Palou wants to continue his trajectory at the Indy 500

Palou wants to continue his trajectory at the Indy 500

At just 26 years old, Alex Palou has already nearly succeeded in IndyCar, 2021 champion, and author of first place in the 500-mile race. On Sunday, he will aim for nothing more than a first podium finish on Indianapolis’ legendary oval.

The Spaniard, driven by Chip Ganassi, will try to become the 73rd winner of the event, the 107th edition of which will take place under the eyes of about 300,000 fans.

The favorite would make sense, having clocked the fastest time in history during qualifying last weekend. Over the last four laps, during the “Fast 6” aimed at allocating the top six positions on the grid, the Catalan reached an unprecedented average speed of 234.217 mph or 376.936 km/h.

The record that allows American team Chip Ganassi to take pole position for the third year in a row, since Scott Dixon achieved it in 2021 and 2022. Start sixth, outside the second row.

Baloo, who will start with Dutchman Rinus Vichai (Ed Carpenter Racing) and Swede Felix Rosenqvist (Arrow McLaren) on the front row, knows that he is expected. “I just hope they don’t go crazy with whoever drives,” he said with a smile of his opponents.

The Spaniard, who established himself as one of his best elements when he arrived at IndyCar and whose talent was to become a reserve driver for the F1 McLaren team, together with Mick Schumacher in particular, could achieve the “May triple” (winner of the Indianapolis Grand Prix, pole position and then Coronation at 500 miles). Only one other, Frenchman Simon Pagenaud, has succeeded in 2019.

Nine former winners and four starters

According to him, starting at the pole is an advantage for navigating through traffic. “I think it is very difficult to be fourth or fifth or even late. And it is much easier when you are first or second.”

But this advantage also has the disadvantage of offering a large amount of suction to the next car: “It is now very easy to go from second to first, which was not the case in the last two years.”

Along with the Catalan, several already reliable contenders are revving their engines, including former winners who dream of lifting the BorgWarner Cup once again.

Five of them will start in the top ten. In addition to Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi), an IndyCar legend with his six championship titles, there is American Alexander Rossi (Arrow McLaren), rookie winner in 2016, Japanese Takuma Sato (Chip Ganassi), who won in 2017 and 2020, and Brazilian Tony Kanaan ( Arrow McLaren) the 2013 winner and Swedish Marcus Ericsson (Chip Ganassi) the defending champion.

In total, nine previous winners have qualified. This is the case of Helio Castroneves, quadruple winner (2001, 2002, 2009, 2021). He is the only active driver to achieve the fifth success, which would set up an unparalleled track record in Indianapolis’ 500-mile history.

The Brazilian from Meyer Shank Racing, who hasn’t missed any of the last 22 editions, will start 20th, behind Romain Grosjean (Andretti). Another Frenchman, Simon Pagenaud, would start 22nd.

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