Scott Dixon will start Sunday's IndyCar race in Detroit from pole position after winning a close battle with Will Power in qualifying at Belle Isle.
The top spot oscillated between Dixon and Power with every lap over the final few minutes, with Ganassi's Dixon waiting until his final lap to post a 1m10.3162s. Power had one lap left to topple the New Zealander but the Penske driver fell short by just 0.0044 second.
"I think it's one of the toughest tracks we come to as far as passing opportunities, outside of strategy and maybe the pits," Dixon said of the challenges facing the drivers in trying to pass in Detroit.
"We come to every weekend trying to get the pole," he added. "But this weekend, we started pretty rough and worked on the car. The car was decent. I wouldn't say it's great. It's definitely a handful to get around here. I think we had some overboost issues in Q3 which we couldn't really get going for the first three or four laps. We seemed to fix it with a map change which helped us later on."
From Power's perspective: "Yeah, it was maximum attack. The car was kind of loose in the last segment of the Fast Six. But, man, yeah, I don't think there was anywhere you could push so hard. You keep going faster the harder you pushed. They kept saying P2, P2. That bloody Dixon, I tell you!"
Alex Tagliani secured the third place on the grid with a great performance in the Bryan Herta Autosport entry, with Schmidt Hamilton's Simon Pagenaud fourth. KV Racing's EJ Viso and Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top six.
Ryan Briscoe believed that he cost himself a spot in the Fast Six when he glanced the wall late in the second qualifying phase and damaged his left-rear suspension. The Indianapolis 500 polesitter ended up eighth for Penske, behind Ganassi's Graham Rahal, who along with Simona de Silvestro (HVM) has a 10-place grid penalty for unapproved engine changes.
Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti (Ganassi) was a shock casualty of the first qualifying segment; the Scot being eliminated after struggling badly with slower traffic. Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti was another early exit as a consequence of going the wrong way with his set-up, leaving him with a car that he described as "way too loose."
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Scott Dixon Ganassi DW12-Honda 1m10.3162s
2. Will Power Penske DW12-Chevy 1m10.3206s + 0.0044s
3. Alex Tagliani Herta DW12-Honda 1m10.6684s + 0.3522s
4. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt DW12-Honda 1m10.8426s + 0.5264s
5. EJ Viso KV DW12-Chevy 1m11.0852s + 0.7690s
6. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti DW12-Chevy 1m11.4557s + 1.1395s
7. Graham Rahal Ganassi DW12-Honda 1m10.9434s Round 2
8. Ryan Briscoe Penske DW12-Chevy 1m10.9964s Round 2
9. Helio Castroneves Penske DW12-Chevy 1m11.0076s Round 2
10. Sebastien Bourdais Dragon DW12-Chevy 1m11.1624s Round 2
11. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne DW12-Honda 1m11.3376s Round 2
12. Takuma Sato Rahal DW12-Honda 1m11.8122s Round 2
13. Josef Newgarden Fisher DW12-Honda 1m12.1068s Group 1
14. James Hinchcliffe Andretti DW12-Chevy 1m11.6519s Group 2
15. Dario Franchitti Ganassi DW12-Honda 1m12.3276s Group 1
16. Mike Conway Foyt DW12-Honda 1m11.6521s Group 2
17. Oriol Servia Panther/DRR DW12-Chevy 1m12.5754s Group 1
18. Tony Kanaan KV DW12-Chevy 1m11.8080s Group 2
19. JR Hildebrand Panther DW12-Chevy 1m12.5835s Group 1
20. Rubens Barrichello KV DW12-Chevy 1m12.4052s Group 2
21. Charlie Kimball Ganassi DW12-Honda 1m12.5844s Group 1
22. Simona de Silvestro HVM DW12-Lotus 1m12.6014s Group 2
23. Ed Carpenter Carpenter DW12-Chevy 1m14.8816s Group 1
24. Marco Andretti Andretti DW12-Chevy 1m12.6531s Group 2
25. James Jakes Dale Coyne DW12-Honda 1m12.8469s Group 2