Palou Wins Pole; Harvey Squeezes In

It was a game of thoudandths at both ends of the field this afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Jack Harvey earned the final spot on the grid on the final lap of his third attempt. Alex Palou edged Rinus VeeKay by six thousandths of a mile per hour to win the pole for the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Jack Harvey

In the last chance shootout, Christian Lundgaard and Sting Ray Robb easily secured spots 31 and 32. Jack Harvey qualified next. Graham Rahal quickly bumped Harvey out of the field. Harvey took a second try, but failed to beat out his teammate.As time ran out, Harvey returned to the track. After three laps, he was still behind, but close. His fourth lap was good enough to earn the final starting position by sevn thoiusandths of a mile per hour.

The Fast Six run for the pole saw Palou post a 235 mile per hour lap on his first circuit. he ended with a 234.217 mile per hour average. It was just enough to edge Rinus VeeKay by six thousandnths of a second. Fekix Rosenqvist was third after an anticlimactic run.


Today continued the drama of yesterday. The only issue I had is with the last cg=hance qualifying. It needs at least 5 cars to work. Havign justfour cars left too much diwn time as Harvey tried to run out the clock before his final runs. Six cars would be ideal in the last chance.

The pole was definitely earned. Having to make three qualifying runs over two days is a grind for the drivers qand the teams. The money awrd for the pole needs to be bigger. The points award should go up as well.

This week was devastating to the Rahal team., One the biggest stars of the series is on the sidelines for the biggest race in the world. it is not the first time this has happened. I believe this isw the first time that a father and son have both had the misfortune to be bumped from the race. Bobby waqs bumped in 1993.

Today’s attendance was the largest I’ve seen on a qualification day in at least 10 years, maybe longer.

I’ll Have some more thoughtson the weekend tomorrow. Thanks for following along this weekend.

Quick Thoughts- GMR Grand Prix

Photo by Kyle McIness

Alex Palou set the tone early with a first lap pass on pole sitter Christian Lundgaard, then took the lead for good on lap 65. He cruised to victory by 16 seconds, a huge margin nby Indycar standards.

Pato O’Ward’s third runnerup finish of the year led a gret team finish for Arrow McLaren. Alexander Rossi finished third, and Felix Rosenqvist was fifth. All three drivers led laps.

It should have been a better day for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, but it was still their best result of the the season. Lundgaard ended fourth after going with scuffed reds. Graham Rahal was 10th. Jack Harvey spun early and endedthe day 20th.

Just when you think Harvey has put it together, something happens to thwaqrt him.

In many wqys it was atypical GMR Grand Prix- early chaos and few yellows. In other ways, I found it a more interesting race than usual. The varying tire startegies were fascinating to watch.

Five races into the season there have been five different wiunners from three different teams.

Will Power made a nice recovery to finbish 12th after being spun by Kyle Kirkwood early. Kirkwood got back to 14th.

Weird Fact- Today is the sixth time a driver whose last name begins with the letter P. Will Power has won the May race three times, and Simon Pagenaud has won twice.

The biggest surprises of the weekend were how uncompetitive Team Penske and Andretti autosport were. The two teams have dominated the earlier races with victories and mpoles. I hope we see stronger results beginning Tuesday from them.

I will have a wrap up tomorrow. Thanks for following along these two days. I cannot wait for Tuesday.

Palou Leads Session 2, Helio Loses Engine

Alex Palou Turned the fastest lap as session 2 came to a close as teams and drivers made final preparations for qualifiying for the GMR Grand Prix. The practice was green the entire time.

Helio Castroneves lost an engine about halfwaythrought the session but was able to get his car to a spot off track to avoid a red flag. The engine was a new one the team had plannee to use for qualifying for themIndianapolis 500.

Pato O’Ward, who led the morning practice, was third this afternoon. All four Ganassi cars again ended in the top 10,with rookie Marcus Armstrong fourth.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing continued their strong morning with Christian Lundgaard in second and Jack Harvey fifth. harvey also ended the morning round in fifth. The IMS road course is site of Harvey’s best career finish, a third place in2017.

Castroneves’ engine is the second problem today for an Andretti autosport related car. Kyle Kirkwood has led the team in both sessions. He was 12th this mornng and 13th this afternoon.

A New Look in the Plaza

In 2022 the Speedway and Caesar’s made a splashy announcement of a Caesar’s betting parlor on the south side of the plaza. My undertanding is that there was a multi year deal in place. As I walked through the Pagoda Plaza this afternoon, I noticed the caesar’s space is now a Grab nGo Market. Ilearned that Caesar’s decided not to come back. It appeared to be a popular spot last May.

Next uo is qualifying at 4 pm Eastern. Qualifying groups should be out soon.


Palou Tops Practice 2

Alex Palou got a clean lap with about 12 minutes to go in the morning practice and it was good enough to lead the session by two tenths if a second over Josef Newgarden and Scott

The Penske duo of Newgarden and McLaughlin led most of the session.

Practice ran clean until Helio Castroneves spun and stalled on track with 45 seconds left. Only a couple of cars went out to complete the time.

Palou, Rosenqvist Stay Put

In the end, it was much ado about nothing. Alex Palou and Felix Rosenqvist will stay with the teams they raced for in 2022 next year. In nearly simultaneous announcements, both drivers and teams declared that 2023 will be status quo.

Palou in Victory Circle Sunday

Palou had indicated mid- season that he had signed with McLaren on the heels of a Ganassi announcement that his contract with the team has been extended. Palou ended the season with a win in the final race of the year at Laguna Seca last Sunday. He was fifth in the final standings. From Palou’s Twitter account:

“I’m also grateful that @CGRTeams will allow me to pursue F1 testing with @McLarenF1 outside of my INDYCAR commitment.

·Thank you Chip, Mike and the entire team for your willingness to work together and help support both the team and my personal goals throughout this process. “

Rosenqvist’s ride with Arrow McLaren SP was on the line this past season. He finished eighth in the standings, one spot behind teammate Pato O’Ward. Rosenqvist had one pole this season, at Texas. He had signed an extension with the team, but it was not specific as to which series Rosenqvist would be assigned to.

In the team’s news release, Rosenqvist said,

“There’s no better way to enter the off-season than with this news! I love this team, and I’m so happy to continue working with all the incredible people I’ve gotten to know over the past two seasons. With everything the team has in the pipeline, the continuing relationship with Pato and the addition of Alex Rossi, we are going to bring our A-game for 2023. It will be the most exciting season for me so far. Let it be March already!”

Laguna Seca Wrap Up

Post season depression is beginning to settle in, so I will attempt to combat it with a few final thoughts on the season finale.

Weather Tech Raceway is a nice track. i love the way it flows and its elevation changes. One the track sorely lacks are video boards. The only video screens are high atop the scoring pylon, too high and far away for most fans to see. I hope the management will consider installing some fan friendly screens.

I enjoyed watching Sunday’s morning warmup from turn 4. It is a sweeping righthander where you hear the change in engine pitch and hear the tire over the rumble strips as the cars head for the climb up to the corkscrew.

Will Power on his way to his second Indycar title

I watched the race from the front stretch just past the starting line. There was some fun drag racing going on at that spot throughout the field. I could see if a pass was successful when the cars got turn 4. My vantage point allowed me to see turn 4 and 5 to the right, and turns 9 and 10 to the left.

Yellow Nonsense

It was not the first time this season race control did this, but I hope it’s the last. Waiting to throw a yellow so that everyone can pit while a car is stopped in a dangerous position is foolish and detracts from the spirit of the game. They say they don’t want to ruin anyone’s race, but whether a race gets ruined is really the team’s choice when they choose when to pit or what tires to use. Let the teams ruin their own races. If a yellow is required, throw it, regardless of the lap or pit window. Indycar might as well go to competition cautions if they continue this policy.

The Sad Saga of the Final Race Winner

Whoever wins the final race of the season, if he’s not the series champion, gets a laurel and hearty handshake and then moves along. I know everyone is eager to crown the champion, and there is a television window to consider, but Alex Palou’s win was significant in many ways.

The win came amid the controversy surrounding his uncertain situation with Ganassi/McLaren for 2023, and ongoing legal battles. I admire the way Palou has kept his focus while all this is happening.

The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey was also the final chance Palou had to win a race as defending series champion. 2004 was the last year in which the previous year’s champ did not win a race.

It’s a difficult situation. I hope Indycar can find a way to give the final race winner more recognition.

A Final Note to Start the Offseason

I am already sick of the Kyle Busch in the Indianapolis 500 next year talk. If he does come, at least there will be no suspense about Rookie of the Year.

Quick Thoughts- Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

Congratulations to Will Power on his second Indycar championship. Power had a consistent season. His lowest finish was 19th at Road America, and he only finished outside of the top ten four times.

Race winner Alex Palou avoided the distinction of being the first defending championsince 2004 to not win a race the following year. Scott Dixon was the last champion to not have a win the nfoloowing year. It was a brilliant drive in what may be Palou’s final ride for Ganassi.

Congratulations to Christian Lungaard on winning the Rookie of the Year.

Palou overcame a six place grid penalty after an engine change. He backed up his fastest time in Saturday’s practice by leading this morning’s warmup.

What a great drive by Josef Newgarden coming from 25th to second.

I admire Palou’s ability to focus on the job at hand and push all the off track drama to the side. To win a race in the atmosphere he endured the second half of the season is amazing.

What a tough way for Callum Ilott to end the season after a great qualifying yesterday. With Juncos Hollinger Racing expanding to two cars form 2023, Ilott should have a more consistent year.

Newgarden won five races this season yet came up short in the championship. Two finbishes of 24th and 25th probably cost him the title.


Thanks for following along this weekend. Tomorrow is a long btravel day. I willm have a season wrap up on Tuesday.

Palou Leads Morning Warmup

Alex Palou ran the quickest lap in the warmup for this afternoon’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Palou qualified fifth but will start 11th follow2ing an engine change last night.

Scott mcLaughlin had the second best lap, Alexander vRossi was third, and David Malukas was fourth. Polesitter Will Power finished the session 18th.

I spent part of the practice watching from turn 4. It is a great place to watch. The cars slow down and flow smoothly through the turn, and you can hear them run over the rumble strip. There could be a perpetual dust cloud here during the race.


Grid Penalty for Palou

From Indycar

INDYCAR Announces WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Grid Penalty 
 INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022) – INDYCAR officials have announced a six-position starting grid penalty for the No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing entry for an unapproved engine change following Saturday’s qualifications at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.The team was in violation of:Rule A fifth (5th) Engine is eligible to earn Engine Manufacturer points if a Full Season Entrant has completed the Full Season Entrant Engine Mileage with its first four (4) Engines. Otherwise, a fifth (5th) or more Engine does not earn Engine Manufacturer points and will be considered an Unapproved Engine change-out.According to Rule, the penalty is a six-position starting grid penalty on road and street course events and nine positions at oval events and will be served at the series’ next event, which is the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, today, at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.