INDIANAPOLIS — Alex Palou knew he didn’t have much for Scott Dixon to win last year’s pole for the 106th Running of the Indianapolis 500. However, he also knew that he’d learn a lot in that moment to use if he ever got back. That was the defining moment to which allowed Palou to give Chip Ganassi Racing their eighth career Indy 500 pole award.
“Last year, we were really close, learned how we could go be more aggressive if we were in that position again, and lucky if we were in that position again today, we took it,” Palou said.
Palou last year, 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.
However, he knew though that it would only be short lived. While we were 5 of the 6 qualifiers in during last year’s thrilling Fast 12 Shootout, Palou also knew that his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate of Dixon was up next.
“There was not a lot of nerves,” Palou said after his run a year ago. “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.”
Boy did he ever. Palou went 235.131 mph on the opening lap of his Fast Six Shootout run and ended up at 234.217 mph which topped Dixon as the fastest pole speed ever now.
“Amazing. Last year we were really close,” he said after earning the pole for next Sunday’s 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500 (11 a.m. ET, NBC, INDYCAR Radio Network). “It was really close last year. We lost it against Dixon, which he did an amazing four-lap run. This year we knew it was going to be even closer against these two guys. They were really fast all month.
“We went aggressive. It worked this time. Super proud.
“Been a good month of May so far.”
Palou won the GMR Grand Prix last weekend. He won the pole for the Indy 500 this weekend. Can he do what Simon Pagenaud did in 2019 and get a clean sweep of the Month of May in Indianapolis?
“We know that this time doesn’t come very often,” Palou said on why he was so emotional in his celebration. “We celebrated last week because it was a big win, and today we were the best on track, so we had to celebrate.
“We couldn’t celebrate last year, and we don’t know if we’re going to be able to celebrate next week.
“Yeah, when there’s chances like that, especially nowadays in INDYCAR, you have to celebrate. You could see on everybody, it was not just me, that I lost my voice, which maybe it was too much, but I’m Spanish, so…
“You could see on every mechanic, every engineer, even Julian, my engineer, that — he’s really quiet — when we win, he’s normally like yeah, that was a good race, good job. But he was super excited today. It means a lot. It’s a big deal. It’s the pole for the Indy 500.
“It’s not the win for the race, but it’s as best we could do today.”