Kiwi driver Scott Dixon has been the man to beat at Watkins Glen International since IndyCar began racing again at the historic road course just over a decade ago. He still is.
Fastest in all three practices, Dixon topped the Fast Six yesterday with a track-record-smashing time of 1m 22.5259s at 147 mph (236.5km/h) to win pole for the Grand Prix at The Glen today. It was Dixon's second pole of the season and 25th of his career, tying him with Paul Tracy for 11th all-time, as he eclipsed Ryan Briscoe's track record by more than five seconds in a penalty-filled affair.
"It was hairy, man," Dixon said. "There was definitely a lot of chaos during qualifying, with people getting pulled back out of the group that they had transferred into."
Aussie driver Will Power, second in points to Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud, will start second, followed by Sebastien Bourdais, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, and Max Chilton. Pagenaud failed to make the final six for the first time this season and will start seventh.
He leads Power by 28 points with two races left.
Dixon captured his fourth IndyCar title in stunning fashion a year ago. He won the season finale at Sonoma to snatch the title from Juan Pablo Montoya, overcoming a 47-point deficit. That he's really not in the hunt this time - Dixon is sixth, 132 points behind Pagenaud - isn't so much fun.
"We had to have a lot of things go our way at Sonoma last year. You don't often see it transpire like that," Dixon said. "They [Pagenaud and Power] are a lot closer. Will's starting five spots ahead of Simon, and Will's been a lot quicker all weekend. It's going down to the wire. For us, it's going to feel real strange."