Scott Dixon has failed to let the demons of his lost victory in last weekend’s Indy 500 deter his focus as the Iceman rocketed to the third fastest time of the only practice session for this weekend’s double-header at World Wide Technology Raceway.
Dixon ended the day as the quickest Honda with Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet’s Pato O’Ward heading the timesheets, the series sophomore edging out Will Power who had a strong day for the Penske team.
Power turned 80 laps around the 1.2-mile oval, the third highest tally in the field. But the Australian was unable to usurp O’Ward who laid down a 1.81.532mph lap to finish as the only driver in the 181-bracket.
Power’s best of a 180.961 was only a fraction quicker than Dixon who ran a more quiet session, setting only 55 laps with his best lap time – a 180.822mph – coming on his penultimate tour to shoot to the front of the timesheets.
Dixon has finished on the rostrum twice at Gateway but has never won at the venue with one pole to his name back in 2018.
A strong finish by the Kiwi this weekend will almost certainly give Dixon one hand on the championship trophy, and his sizeable points advantage has even led to some rivals conceding defeat to the five-time series winner.
“I’m not looking at the championship by any means. Scott’s definitely going to win the championship,” said Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi.
“We’re going to try and win races. If we could finish in the top three or four or five, I think that’d be a good recovery considering the way things have gone.”
Rossi sits a lowly 14th in the standings with Dixon’s nearest title rival being incumbent series champion Josef Newgarden. The Penske driver is 81-points adrift of a runaway Dixon and could only muster the 12th quickest time in practice today.
Seven races realistically remain for Dixon in 2020, with Mid-Ohio set to land a revised date in September while this year also saw the going away with a double-points season finale.
Alex Palou, who suffered a hefty crash in last weekend’s 500, set a mammoth 101 laps on his way to the seventh quickest time, just ahead of the second Chip Ganassi Honda of Marcus Ericsson.
Behind Dixon was a Conor Daly and now two-time Indy 500 victor Takuma Sato who slotted into fifth for Rahal Letterman racing.
Qualifying will begin from 4 am NZT tomorrow morning with each driver permitted two laps, the first to determine their grid position for race one, and the second for the final race of the weekend.