Honda Racing–Heat Race Winner Dixon Leads Honda Field at Iowa

In true short-oval racing fashion, Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon fought his way into the final qualifying heat race Saturday evening at Iowa Speedway, then finished fifth to lead the Honda-powered field in IZOD IndyCar Series qualifying for Sunday’s Iowa Corn Indy 250.

A unique combination of single-car qualifying and heat-race action was used to set the field for Sunday’s final short oval race of 2013.  Dixon posted the eighth-fastest speed in qualifying, which put him on the pole for the first of two semi-final heat races.  Dixon and fellow Honda driver Takuma Sato finished 1-2 in the first heat, qualifying both drivers for the final.

In the second semi, Simon Pagenaud applied pressure on early leader Ed Carpenter, but it was Graham Rahal who stormed up from seventh to take the lead with just two laps remaining.  Rahal and the second-finishing Carpenter advanced to the final, while Pagenaud finished third and just missed the cut. 

In the 50-lap final, Dixon was boxed in by traffic at the start, falling to 10th during the hectic opening lap.  Once the field sorted itself out, Dixon began reel in the competition, reaching fifth at the checkers, with Sato seventh and Rahal ninth for Honda.  Sunday’s 250-lap race starts at 3 p.m. EDT, with live network television coverage on ABC.

Scott Dixon (#9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda Dallara) qualified 5th, his fourth top-10 qualifying of 2013:  “We made a chassis change between Heat 1 and Heat 3, and it definitely made the car better.  I kinda got stuck behind a couple of cars at the start and had to lift, and dropped back.  But the car was working well and I could pass on both the high side and down low, so we were able to move back up.  The car was much more consistent [in the final], so I’m pretty optimistic about our chances tomorrow.”