Kiwi driver Scott Dixon shows good signs in Indianapolis 500 qualifying

Kiwi driver Scott Dixon shows good signs in Indianapolis 500 qualifying

Scott Dixon showed some decent speed ahead of next week’s Indy 500.

Michael Conroy/AP

Scott Dixon showed some decent speed ahead of next week’s Indy 500.

New Zealand driver Scott Dixon looks to be in good touch for next Monday’s (NZ time) Indianapolis 500.

The IndyCars series leader finished qualifying on Sunday in fifth position, ahead of Monday’s top-nine shootout.

But the 40-year-old Chip Ganassi Racing driver actually recorded the fastest lap of the day, at 232.356 mph, in an aborted qualifying run at the buzzer which he said wasn’t an attack on those placed ahead of him.

“We were just checking a few things for tomorrow, we wanted to get the right balance,” Dixon said.

Scott Dixon set the fastest lap speed in an aborted qualifying attempt.

Darron Cummings/AP

Scott Dixon set the fastest lap speed in an aborted qualifying attempt.

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Marco Andretti led a Honda rout on the first day of qualifying – a session dominated by Andretti Autosport and Honda as Team Penske was shut out of pole contention.

Andretti posted a four-lap average of 231.351 mph to top the speed chart ahead of team-mates Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe. The fastest nine advance to the shootout that determines the first three rows for the Indy 500.

The Andretti organisation grabbed four of the slots and Honda drivers took eight of nine overall.

“Honda brought it this year,” Andretti said. “I was able to just go out and do my job and, man, when it all comes together, it is just beautiful.”

Marco Andretti finished on top of the qualifying standings.

Darron Cummings/AP

Marco Andretti finished on top of the qualifying standings.

Andretti Autosport tried to get all six of its cars into the top nine but Colton Herta was 10th and Zach Veach 17th after multiple attempts.

The shootout for the pole will consist of the four Andretti drivers, Dixon, VeeKay, rookie Alex Palou of Dale Coyne Racing and Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato from Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

Andretti likes his chances even as he initially worried his early speed wouldn’t hold. He’s winless in 14 previous attempts to win “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” and the famed Andretti family has just one win in the event, a 1969 Mario Andretti victory.

“The biggest hurdle when you come to Indy is speed,” Andretti said. “We had it. But then you start to wonder – is Chevy sandbagging? Is it too good to be true? Man, Honda brought it. We’ve got the speed down. We’ve just got to execute.”

Andretti received praise from his father, Michael, the team owner.

The car of Scott Dixon gets pushed to pit lane during qualifying.

Darron Cummings/AP

The car of Scott Dixon gets pushed to pit lane during qualifying.

“He blew me away,” Michael Andretti said. “That first lap was amazing. We were all shocked by it. Last two laps he was pedalling the heck out of it. He did a great job.”

Michael Andretti was equally proud of his entire organisation for preparing six strong cars.

“One of the challenges is trying to make all our cars equal,” he said. “They’re as close together as they’ve ever been. Until yesterday, I didn’t know where we were going to be. Then I thought we have a legit shot of putting six cars in the top nine.”

Fernando Alonso failed to find much speed, in what was a miserable day for Chevrolet. The two-time Formula One champion is attempting to close out motorsport’s version of the Triple Crown, but his Arrow McLaren SP entry has been behind since Alonso crashed late in Friday’s (NZT) practice.

Alonso’s qualifying time of 228.768 mph was 12th out of 13 drivers when he made his attempt. Alonso, who was bumped from the field last year, will start 26th.

“We just wanted to put together a solid run with no drama and put the car in the show,” the Spaniard said. “We were not as quick as we wanted and we had to accept that.”

– Additional reporting Stuff

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