Alex Palou celebrates his first career pole. Indycar photo by Joe Skibinskii
Anyone worried about Alex Palou fading out of the championship hunt can breathe easier now. Palou backed up his top speed in practice with his first career pole, nipping Alexander Rossi by 0.087 of a second.
The day did not start well for Palou with a spin and a light tap of a barrier about halfway through the practice session. He rebounded to finish with the fastest time in the practice and in Round 2 of qualifying.
The biggest surprise of the day was that title contenders Josef Newgarden and Pato O’Ward did not advance. Newgarden will start 18th and O’Ward will start 7th. Scott Dixon starts 3rd. The irony for O’Ward is that teammate Felix Rosenqvist knocked him out of the Fast Six as round 2 ended.
Takuma Sato took a six place grid penalty for an engine change and will start 24th. Ryan Hunter-Reay did not participate in qualifying as his team could not repair the car in time. Hunter-Reay had an unspecified electronics issue.
Graham Rahal had a great day making the Fast Six. i would not be surprised to see him on the podium tomorrow.
Max Chilton qualified a career best 11th.
Meyer Shank cars driven by Helio Castroneves and Jack Harvey were second and third in the morning practice, but had no pace in qualifying. Castroneves starts 17th and Harvey 20th.
Simon Pagenaud continues to not qualify well. He starts 26th.
Tomorrow is Alexander Rossi’s best chance for a win in 2021. The series still has a chance to set a record for the most different winners in a season, but it will take a different new winner in each of the last three races to accomplish it.
I believe this is the first all Alex front row in Indycar history.
Thanks for following along today. I’ll be back tomorrow with a race preview and a post race recap.