Alex Palou Just Did a 235-MPH Lap at Indianapolis
Alex Palou is already an IndyCar champion, but his Indianapolis 500 history has been one of disappointing results in excellent cars. In both qualifying and the race itself, Palou has come up crushingly short in big moments two years in a row. Today, that finally changes with an electric 234.217 MPH average speed over four laps to take pole for the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500.
What a qualifying run for @AlexPalou!
The fastest pole speed in #Indy500 qualifying history: 234.217 mph! pic.twitter.com/nJkx0Gr6id
— INDYCAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) May 21, 2023
Palou's Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon broke the 234 MPH barrier for pole qualifiers last year, but Dixon came up well short in today's Fast Six session. That seemed to suggest that Ganassi, Honda's lead team throughout this past week of practicing and qualifying at the Speedway, was short on speed to three separate Chevrolet programs before Palou went out for his one shot at pole. Those fears were quickly erased when Palou dropped a first lap over 235 MPH, a number not seen in a qualifying run at this track in decades.
Palou kept his run up with laps of 234.4, 233.9, and 233.4 MPH to set a final time of 234.217. That was put in immediate danger when Ed Carpenter Racing's Rinus VeeKay put up a 235 MPH lap of his own on the next run, but VeeKay was slightly slower on his peak first lap and his speed faded in a similar way over his next three laps. VeeKay finished with a speed of 234.211 MPH, 6/1000ths of a mile per hour off the pole and the speed record for a pole-sitter. Arrow McLaren's Felix Rosenqvist finished off the qualifying session with a consistent run to 234.114 despite a slower peak speed of 234.6 on his first lap, enough to ensure that the entire three-car front row for Sunday's race will have qualified with average speeds over 234 MPH.
The 107th Indianapolis 500 is scheduled for its traditional date, next Sunday on the day before Memorial Day.
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