BALTIMORE – And the storyline continues for Scott Dixon and Will Power.
The two drivers who were involved in last week’s controversy in the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma swept the front row for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Baltimore. Dixon won his 20th career pole on Saturday as the fastest driver in the “Firestone Fast Six” with a lap at 1:18.0838 for a speed of 94.053 miles per hour around the 12-turn, 2.04-mile street circuit at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor.
Dixon’s Dallara/Honda was faster than Power’s Dallara/Chevrolet after the Team Penske driver fell short at 1:18.1171 (94.013 mph).
Dixon and Power were embroiled in controversy last Sunday when Dixon was the leader and Power second as the duo made their final pit stop late in the race. Power was pitted in front of Dixon and when Dixon was first out of the pits, Power’s rear-tire changer, Travis Law, was carrying his tire around the car and it clipped Dixon’s Dallara as it left the pits.
Dixon was given a Drive Through penalty and went from the lead to 19th place before finishing 15th. Power inherited the lead and went on to win the race.
Dixon was furious, believing Law had impeded his exit from the pit area. Power was pretty much an innocent bystander in the incident but it was his crewmember that was involved on the pit stop contact.
During Saturday morning’s practice session Dixon let off the throttle to avoid a slower car and Power ran into the back of Dixon, sending him spinning around in turn 12. Dixon admitted it was his fault for hitting the brakes without realizing Power was so close.
Then came qualifications and Dixon was able to win the pole after he got “bumped in” when Graham Rahal’s fast lap was disallowed for bringing out the red flag after he stuffed his Dallara/Honda into the tire barrier and about 30 second later Tristan Vautier plowed into the back of him. Rahal’s time had been fourth best in the session but per IndyCar rule “if a car causes a red condition in any segment or otherwise interferes with qualifications as determined by the Race Director, the car’s best two timed laps of the segment shall be disallowed.”
So Dixon, who would have been out if Rahal’s time had stood, was the last driver to get into the Fast Six in the second segment of qualifications.
The Target/Chip Ganassi Racing driver made the most of his second chance by winning the pole.
“It feels really good,” Dixon said. “To come through what we did in qualifications. In Q2 we had a sensor failure on the engine but we got bumped in when Graham lost his laps there and Helio Castroneves didn’t make it. Once we got the sensor changed out we were able to roll off and get a pole when we need it most. It’s big. It’s a fun track. It’s full on and every year the Chicane changes but anywhere you start close to the front it really helps.
“I made a few mistakes but it was a great bounce back after Sonoma. We are all trying to do the best we can here. Rivalries are strong for this sport and it’s so good to see the fans get engaged in it with everything going on.”
Dixon entered the weekend 39 points out of the lead but his pole is worthwhile for more than the extra point that he receives because points leader Helio Castroneves of Team Penske missed the Fast Six and starts seventh in a Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet with a lap at 1:19.0288 (92.928 mph).