INDIANAPOLIS — Marco Andretti has been saying all week that the fourth and final lap of the qualifying run would be the difference in sitting on the pole for the 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (1 p.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network) or not.
“I’ve been saying it since we started: lap three and four, that’s going to make the difference,” Andretti said. “Yeah, I think we can lay the wing down and go fast the first couple laps. But I think it’s about all four obviously, the average.”
That’s exactly what happened on Pole Day for the Fast Nine Shootout on Sunday. It was Andretti vs. Scott Dixon.
But, I have to wonder, if Dixon had a teammate like Andretti did in the Shootout, would he have had just enough to beat Andretti?
Andretti was at 231.826 mph on Lap 1 compared to 231.768 mph for Dixon’s. But, on Lap 2, Dixon (231.163 mph) narrowly beat Andretti’s 231.146 mph. On Lap 3, Dixon was quicker again at 230.941 mph versus 230.771 mph for Andretti. They were virtually equal there.
On Lap 4?
Andretti 230.532 mph against 230.337 mph for Dixon. That equates out to 231.068 mph for lap run for Andretti and 231.051 mph for Dixon. That’s a difference of .17 mph over four laps.
Andretti Autosport entered the Fast Nine with four bullets in their chamber for the pole. Dixon, was the lone representative of Chip Ganassi Racing. What would have happened if Felix Rosenqvist and/or Marcus Ericsson went out before Dixon?
“The thing with Andretti is they have four of them kind of with Hinch and Hunter-Reay, Rossi, all those guys,” Dixon said. “I’m sure they were relaying or at least seeing the car run.
“The problem is you never really know how similar the cars are. Definitely the 10 and the 9 are pretty similar, but then the 8 and the 10 are quite different in some ways. It’s hard to go off what you hear sometimes.
“You kind of just got to stick to your own guns. Sometimes it can be useful whether it’s track conditions and just general track grip. If you think it’s up, you can try to trim a little bit more. Maybe that’s what Marco and those guys did at the end.
“Looked like Rossi was probably the most aggressive on their side. His run honestly didn’t look very good, especially with the (indiscernible) throughout. Maybe they didn’t trim out any more.
“I think all information helps. We would have loved to have two Ganassi cars in the Fast Nine. Just wasn’t the case. They’ll be strong in the race, for sure.”
Dixon, didn’t have to requalify like he did on Saturday, but was that for practice for Sunday? His first qualifying run was solid enough to get into the Fast Nine. Still, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver went out three more times.
“I think we kind of learnt that we were just not aggressive enough on the first run,” Dixon said on if he learned anything from those three extra attempts. “That’s kind of all it was. We kind of rebalanced for run two. Run three we kind of trimmed out a little bit more.
“It was one of those situations where each run, we decided because the track conditions were going to be a little bit different on Friday, that we only did I think two runs, maybe three. We typically gear up for six on a day like that. We felt like maybe yesterday afternoon was better for the Fast Nine situation.
“I think it always helps whenever you can run. I think conditions were especially different today from what we’ve seen during the week.”
Andretti, did say that he didn’t really take any advice for his run from his teamamtes as he wanted to stick with what they had. But, what happens if Dixon had someone to give him advice? Would they have taken it?