On a day of high speeds and divided by inclement weather, Álex Palou has more than met the goal of qualifying for the third time in three years for the fight for pole position at the Indianapolis 500 this Sunday. The Spanish driver, who until now had not allowed himself to fall for the positions of honour, showed his cards with an excellent qualifying attempt that placed him in fourth position, despite starting from an unfavorable position in the order established by draw the day before. .
Being the 19th pilot to go out to classify, Palou started with an excellent lap of 233.588 miles per hour, the second best in that section, and managed to maintain a good pace until a fourth lap in which he lost some ground. However, his final average of 232,774 miles per hour It left him only one thousandth of third place, and ensured his presence in the Fast 12 without the need to take more risks like the previous year. The average of him, moreover, crushed the best record of a Spaniardwhich was still in possession of Fernando Alonso since 2017 with the 231,300 that placed him fifth on the grid.
Palou was one of 10 drivers who managed to qualify above 232 miles per hour, a figure that in the last 25 years had only been reached by Scott Dixon in 2017 (232,164). The expected times arrived at the start of a session an hour early due to the expectation of rain, in which the first riders found almost perfect conditions. In this way, Rinus VeeKay He was the second to go out on the track and finished in front with a historic qualifying attempt in which he averaged 233.655 mph, the third fastest in historyvery close to Scott Brayton’s 1996 pole record (233.718).
In his first round, VeeKay became the second driver ever to hit 234 mph in qualifying with a sky-high record of 234.702 mph (38.346 seconds), figures that only his compatriot Arie Luyendyk surpassed on the second day of qualifying in 1996 with laps of 236 and 237 mph. The pilot who preceded him, Duck O’Wardmanaged to exceed 233 mph on average, confirming the good feelings of McLaren SP, and his teammate Felix Rosenqvistwho came out very shortly after, finished off the job with third place.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s strength was on display by placing all five of its cars in the top 10. For the first time this week, Palou led the pack, just ahead of Tony Kanaan and a good Jimmie Johnson who has a good chance of starting his first Indy 500 very high up. Marcus Ericsson, handicapped by a late starting position, finished eighth, with the only relative disappointment coming in 10th place from a Scott Dixon who regretted putting on more of a charge than necessary. In between, a Ed Carpenter Tanned in a thousand qualifying wars for the Indy 500, he finished seventh despite starting in hotter conditions.
Both Andretti and Penske, who had different incidents, only managed to sneak one car into the top 12: Romain Grosjeanwho took advantage of his early position with the ninth fastest time, and Will Powerwho took advantage of a moment of cloudy conditions to scratch an eleventh position ahead of the big disappointment of the day, Takuma Sato. Coyne’s cars, apparently conservative with downforce, did not display the sky-high pace of the previous three days, and his situation was hurt when his time of 232.196 was scrapped for hindering Marco Andretti’s warm-up lap as he returned to the pits
Not content with this, Sato went all out on his second attempt, hitting the wall at Turn 3 and keeping his foot flat to snatch the last place in the Fast 12 from his partner David Malukas, who had just improved on a second try as well. There weren’t many of these, since the rain forced everything to stop twice: first at 20:15, only 45 minutes after the end of the first attempts (validating the decision to advance the start), and after a brief restart of only 12 minutes, with more wind and humidity, the interruption of 22: 02 was the final one, ending the day 50 minutes later when there was still an hour to go.
Going out on the fast lane erasing their previous time so as not to wait in line for the slow lane, two drivers lost several positions in pursuit of the Fast 12. alexander rossi, noticeably annoyed at the load on his car, dropped four places, but the last straw went to McLaughlin. Unlike Sage Karam, the other driver who qualified in the 12 minute period, the New Zealander lost a lot of time, and went from 15th position to 26th. His teammate Josef Newgarden, who had also committed to losing her time, was saved by the bell when the session was neutralized during her warm-up lap, and was able to retain her 14th position.
further back, Colton Herta could only finish 25th after suffering a broken engine at the start of your first try and not show much speed on your second. Similarly, it was surprising that the current winner Hélio Castroneves could only be 27th, and the Foyt and Rahal teams confirmed their speed problems. At the bottom of the table, Juan Pablo Montoya had to start much later for failing the pre-classification inspection, and Stefan Wilson failed to complete an attempt on time after having to change the engine due to an incorrect installation of the gears that had caused it to overheat.
RESULTS OF THE FIRST DAY OF QUALIFYING IN INDIANAPOLIS
– (R): Debutants in the Indy 500
– Boldqualified for the Fast 12
In this way, the five Ganassi cars, plus two from McLaren SP and Carpenter, and a unit from Penske, Andretti and Coyne, will fight for the copper tomorrow in two rounds, first in Fast 12 (22:00) and then in Fast 6 (23:10). The rest will have on the grid the position they have obtained this Saturday and will not have to requalify.
Photos: IndyCar Media