INDIANAPOLIS — Alex Palou just ran a four-lap average of 233.499 mph in his No. 10 Dallara-Honda. It was at the time the second fastest pole speed in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history. For a place that’s been around for 106 years of NTT INDYCAR Series action, it was something the defending series champion was thrilled about.
However, he knew though that it would only be short lived. While we were 5 of the 6 qualifiers in during Sunday’s thrilling Fast 12 Shootout that had at that point eliminated the first set of 6 drivers and on the final round consisting of 6, Palou knew his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate of Scott Dixon was up next.
Dixon had 4 past poles here for a reason. He knows his way around this track and knows how much to lay it on the line.
“There was not a lot of nerves,” Palou said after his run. “I knew he was going to get it. Everybody knew. He is the man here. It was like, okay. To be honest, Chip Ganassi Racing team had a great job having five cars in the Fast 12, four in the Fast 6.”
Dixon set a new pole record of 234.046 mph in his No. 9 Dallara-Honda. Palou was right. He had nothing for him.
The Spaniard also said that if it was anyone other than Dixon being him, he’d have been more confident but when it’s the man dubbed the “Ice Man” he knew that he was now likely going to be starting on the Middle of Row 1 instead of the inside.
“I guess it would be different if there was another driver behind, but when it’s Scott Dixon, maybe you are a bit more scared,” Palou continued. “So obviously, seeing that number, it was amazing. I thought my four laps run were fast, but we were not fast enough, so, yeah, it’s okay.
“My car was really good. I think my best car was doing Fast 6, so I was super comfortable. I think I did everything I had. I kind of wish that Scott, knowing that he had already four pole laps here, he could have gave me one, but he doesn’t share much. We’ll try and get it next year.”
Now the focus turns to the Indianapolis 500 itself. No more qualifying sims. During this past week of practice, the entire Chip Ganassi Racing fleet focused more on race pace than qualifying sims anyways. What’s scary for the field is, Palou says his race car is actually even better.
“Yeah, we had really strong cars on traffic conditions. I was actually happier with my car on race trim than I was at the beginning on qualifying trim. Maybe because we didn’t get to run a lot on Friday, but it’s a long race, man. It’s a long race.
“I remember last year I was almost nowhere in the first two runs, and then at the end we were up there. You need to nail everything, every single lap. The strategy, every single pass, every pit stop.
“Yeah, it is target is to get through the first pit stop and then the second and then until the end and try and be at the front like first two places I would say for the last ten. We try and do everything we can to get us in that position.”