Palou beats Lundgaard to Indy GP pole

Alex Palou became the fourth NTT IndyCar Series pole position winner of the season on Friday when he edged out Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Christian Lundgaard to take the honors on the IMS road course.

“It’s been a tough day, so really happy to be there,” said the reigning series champion. “Didn’t expect it. I’ll take it; it’s the best starting position. It’s a tricky place and every time you can start up front in an IndyCar is important. We only used one set of the alternates in qualifying, so looking forward to tomorrow.”

Palou’s 1m09.0004s in the No.10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda bettered Lundgaard — last year’s polesitter — by just 0.0917s.


“It was a little bit of a debate about what tires to go on,” said the Dane. “We ended up going with the first reds we ran in Q1 and they were good enough, but we didn’t quite put it together, which is a bummer. But being on the front row two times in a row here is not bad.”

Will Power looked to be in the frame to extend his all-time pole record until a slide late in his final lap relegated him to third, where he will line up alongside Team Penske stablemate Josef Newgarden. Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward and CGR’s Scott Dixon — the latter making his first Fast 6 appearance of the year — will start from row three.

The list of drivers perplexed at how early their participation in the session came to an end was a long one. Scott McLaughlin, Kyle Kirkwood and Romain Grosjean were all reasonably happy with their cars but were cut after the first round.

“It’s a surprise from first practice to now, and there’s not really a rhyme or reason for it,” said Kirkwood, whose Andretti Global team recently tested at the track. “We thought at the test we made big improvements on the same tire we’re on here. But the margins are so fine, right?”

It was a similar scenario after the Fast 12, where Arrow McLaren’s Alex Rossi was frustrated to miss out on progressing to the fight for pole by 0.01s, but encouraged by the performance of his car, and also by the prospect of an extra set of alternates for a race where the reds are expected to be the way to go.

Not everyone was so quick to find a silver lining. Points leader Colton Herta will start from 24th after going out for a two-lap run at the end of the second round, only to discover that his car had only been fueled for a lap and three-quarters. Herta was in no mood to talk after returning to the pits, so it fell to Andretti Global COO and Herta’s strategist Rob Edwards to explain what happened.

“We were always planning to do two timed laps on reds and obviously just didn’t get enough in it — just human error,” he said. “We think Colton probably had the speed on that second lap…”


UP NEXT: Warmup, Saturday, 11:15am ET.



Story originally appeared on Racer