INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Chip Ganassi Racing has run out of power in Indianapolis.First, the four-car team couldn’t find enough speed to make Sunday’s pole shootout.
Then, after working overtime to fix Max Chilton’s damaged car Saturday night, crew members were back in scramble mode Sunday afternoon when defending series champion Scott Dixon’s engine developed a problem in practice.
Somehow, Ganassi’s team changed engines in 64 minutes, almost two hours quicker than it normally takes, and in time for Dixon to get back on the track for his only qualifying attempt of the day. But Dixon, Ganassi’s top qualifier, couldn’t improve on the 13th seed he had coming into the final day of qualifications.
He will start on the inside of Row 4 for next weekend’s Indianapolis 500.
James Hinchcliffe, left, of Canada, celebrates with is father, Jeremy Hinchcliffe, after winning the pole for the Indianapolis 500 auto race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday. May 22, 2016. Picture/AP.
“To do that (switch) in a little over an hour, I can’t believe it. It’s something that seemed unachievable,” Dixon said, hopeful it might mark the start of a much needed turnaround.
“We’ve had a pretty tough week, here.”
Make that a pretty tough month.It started at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis when 2013 Indy winner Tony Kanaan was knocked out of the race in a first turn crash. The reason: Dixon was forced up the track, squeezing Kanaan into a collision with Sebastien Bourdais.Charlie Kimball wound up fifth, the best of Ganassi’s bunch.
When practice on the 2.5-mile oval opened Monday, the Ganassi drivers focused more on race-day setup than speeds.But when it came time to qualify, it, like the other Chevrolet, wound up chasing the Hondas.
Ganassi’s team never quite figured it out, and it showed during qualifying weekend.
Scott Dixon walks down pit road during a practice session on the opening day of qualifications for the Indianapolis 500 auto race on Saturday. Picture/AP.
Chilton crashed in Saturday morning’s practice session and didn’t make it back to the track until Sunday afternoon when he was among the slowest drivers in practice. He qualified 22nnd.Kanaan will start 18th and Charlie Kimball qualified 16th after a restless night.
“I have to admit that I probably wasn’t the happiest driver I’ve ever been last night,” Kimball said.
Dixon had the best four-lap average on the team, 229.497 mph, in 13th position.
“That is the great thing about Chip Ganassi Racing, you have a lot of data to learn from especially guys that are as good as Kanaan and Dixon.”
The bigger question heading into race week is whether the team has found a solution to any of its problems.While Kimball and Dixon both sounded relieved after their runs and Chilton was satisfied with making the 33-car grid, Kanaan believes he still has a chance to make this an interesting race and noted that when the won three years ago at Indy, he started 12th.
“We’ll just need to put this behind us and refocus on our race car,” Kanaan said. “So we’ll just need to put this behind us and refocus on our race car.”