INDIANAPOLIS — A day after winning the Indianapolis 500 pole position, Scott Dixon had another reason to smile Sunday at soggy Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
He and the 10 drivers who qualified Saturday can spend a week preparing while more than two dozen drivers worry about making the season's biggest race.
The New Zealand-born Dixon, who won the 2003 IndyCar Series championship, has a victory this season and is second to points leader Helio Castroneves. Dixon's next goal is to follow up winning the pole with a victory during the race's 92nd running May 25.
"From a driver standpoint it means a lot to us because you know how hard you work for it," said Dixon, whose four-lap average of 226.366 mph helped Chip Ganassi Racing grab the first two spots (with teammate and 2005 winner Dan Wheldon).
"You get bragging rights for a couple of weeks, and that's about it. But I think starting on the first couple of rows is key to this race. Dan started maybe 16th a couple of years back and still won it from there. … We see the big picture for us is still trying to win the 500."
Pole qualifying followed form with IRL heavyweights saturating the 11 positions filled on one of the few dry days at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but the grid took an oddly neat pattern.
After Chip Ganassi Racing was Team Penske's tandem of newcomer Ryan Briscoe and two-time Indy winner Castroneves, whose dream of winning consecutive poles was dashed by Dixon's second qualifying run.
Andretti Green Racing won the next three spots with Danica Patrick, Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti, while rookie Hideki Mutoh was ninth. Panther Racing's Vitor Meira (eighth) earned his fourth top-eight berth in six starts.
Vision Racing's Ed Carpenter and Luczo Dragon Racing's Tomas Scheckter rounded out the field and bumped heralded Newman/Haas/Lanigan driver Graham Rahal.
"To be honest, it feels like I've got the pole just to survive that top 11," said Scheckter, who clocked 223.496 mph.
Sunday's rained-out second round of qualifying leaves Rahal — the 19-year-old son of 1986 Indy winner Bobby Rahal — among the many drivers trying to fill the remaining 22 spots Saturday.
Just as the pole appeared to belong to Wheldon, whose split of 226.110 mph bumped Briscoe to the outside front, Dixon blasted his fast lap minutes later. That second attempt could be considered a break from Ganassi's usual conservative strategy, not to mention that speeds were slowing throughout the day.
"I think amongst the drivers it means a lot" to win the pole, Dixon said. "It's definitely right at the top of accomplishments that I've done."