Fourth-place feels like Christmas after 'scrappy' qualifying - Scott Dixon
Reigning IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon claims qualifying fourth for the Firestone Grand Prix of St.Petersburg feels like Christmas after what he described as a 'scrappy' afternoon for the #9 PNC Bank entry.
As the second round of qualifying got underway for the first group of drivers, the Kiwi initially tried to get into the fast 12 on fresh hard tyres. However, his time wasn't quite good enough and he attempted a lap on the softer compound which led to a very uncharacteristic spin at Turn 7 on his first run.
This led the champion to make the decision to force numerous set-up changes to his Chip Ganassi Racing car.
Once Dixon had recovered from the spin, he attempted another lap which wasn't good enough to make it through to the next phase of qualifying. Dixon's fortunes then turned in his favour when Rahal-Letterman-Lanigan's Takuma Sato had his time deleted from the group after causing a local yellow flag for running off the circuit in Turn 4 in final minutes of the session.
"That was like Christmas, I guess. I don't know. It was scrappy," said Dixon. "I think we changed front springs three times, front rear toes, the front wing. It was a bit of a mess. We struggled to get the balance a little bit.
"Q1 I think we were knocked out until the infraction with Sato and had a spin in Q1, so it was almost like the first day back at school and was just a mess. But all in all, I think the car is pretty strong. It's just not real nice to try and piece together. So I think over the longer run, it seems pretty suitable.
"Guys in Q1 I think got a little bit lucky with some fresher tires later on with the crashes that happened in that one, as well. But we made the most of it. We could have been 14th, but we're starting fourth. Good spot.
Dixon was also quick to praise rookie team-mate Felix Rosenqvist who out-qualified him into third place on the grid on his IndyCar series debut.
"Great to have Felix here," Dixon added. "He did a hell of a job, and hopefully, we can have a podium finish for both the 9 and the 10."