Palou wins pole position in a record-breaking Indy 500 qualifying shootout


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Alex Palou will start from pole position in the 107th Indianapolis 500, heading up a record-setting front row and the fastest field of 33 cars in the history of the event.

Palou’s four-lap average speed was recorded at 234.217 miles per hour – which equals 376.935 kilometres per hour. The 2021 IndyCar Series champion, who finished second in the 500 that year, was the third driver to go out during the Fast Six qualifying session after he went only fourth-fastest in the preceding Top 12 qualifying runs earlier that afternoon.

But Palou set the tempo early and emphatically, his first lap averaging 235.131 mph. His pace tailed off somewhat over the following three laps but it was enough to put him on provisional pole after Pato O’Ward and Scott Dixon went out for their runs.

His closest competition for the top spot ended up being Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay, who was just 0.006 mph – or four milliseconds – short of surpassing Palou at 234.211 miles per hour.

Santino Ferrucci and Felix Rosenqvist weren’t able to dislodge Palou from the top spot on their runs, and Palou raised his arms skyward in celebration after winning pole position.

It is Palou’s first pole at Indianapolis
That’s the third straight Indy 500 pole for Chip Ganassi Racing after Dixon won the pole in 2021 and 2022 – the latter of which was won ahead of Palou. VeeKay will start on the front row for the third consecutive Indy 500, and a second-place starting position was a great effort to complete a day which began with his #21 car suffering a blown header in the morning’s practice session.

Rosenqvist, who was fastest yesterday, and fastest earlier today in the Top 12 qualifying session, settled for third place with a run of 234.114 mph – but it’s also his first front-row start at the 500.

The trio of Palou, VeeKay, and Rosenqvist all surpassed the previous record for the fastest pole position qualifying run in Indianapolis Motor Speedway history, which was 234.046 set by Dixon last year. Dixon had surpassed the pole record of the late Scott Brayton, who should have started up front in 1996 before he lost his life in a practice accident just six days after winning the pole.

Arie Luyendyk’s all-time record run of 236.986 mph / 381.392 kmh, set on the second day of time trials in ’96 under a different qualifying format, remains intact.

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Palou will try to be the first Indy 500 pole winner to convert their run into a win in IndyCar’s crown jewel event since Simon Pagenaud in 2019.

Ferrucci qualified fourth for the long-beleaguered AJ Foyt Racing, who’s suddenly found real speed out of their two cars. O’Ward ended up fifth, matching his car number, and Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 race winner who’s spent the last 15 years desperately searching for a second win, will start sixth.

Three Indianapolis 500 winners will share the third row of the grid, headed by 2016 centenary champion Alexander Rossi starting seventh in car number seven, two-time winner Takuma Sato starting in eighth, and 2013 winner Tony Kanaan, in his 22nd and final run at the Indy 500, starting ninth.

Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson will start on the inside of the fourth row, with 2018 race winner and defending IndyCar Series champion Will Power on the outside – and in the middle, the fastest rookie in the field, Benjamin Pedersen in 11th driving the second Foyt car.

All of them will line up ahead of the first-day qualifiers on the fourth through tenth rows, and the three drivers on the 11th row who survived the Last Chance qualifying session on Sunday afternoon. They combined to qualify at an average speed of 232.184 miles per hour – resetting the record for the fastest Indy 500 field set officially in 2021.

Next Sunday, the 107th Indianapolis 500 will begin. The green flag for the race is scheduled for 12:45 EDT (local time), 17:45 BST.

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Indianapolis 500 qualifying results

110Alex PalouGanassiHonda
221Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
36Felix RosenqvistMcLarenChevrolet
414Santino FerrucciFoytChevrolet
55Pato O’WardMcLarenChevrolet
69Scott DixonGanassiHonda
77Alexander RossiMcLarenChevrolet
811Takuma SatoGanassiHonda
966Tony KanaanMcLarenChevrolet
108Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
1155Benjamin PedersenFoytChevrolet
1212Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
1333Ed CarpenterCarpenterChevrolet
143Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
1527Kyle KirkwoodAndrettiHonda
1620Conor DalyCarpenterChevrolet
172Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
1823Ryan Hunter-ReayDreyer & ReinboldChevrolet
1928Romain GrosjeanAndrettiHonda
20106Helio CastronevesMeyer ShankHonda
2126Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
2260Simon PagenaudMeyer ShankHonda
2318David MalukasCoyne/HMDHonda
2498Marco AndrettiAndrettiHonda
2524Stefan WilsonDRR/CusickChevrolet
2629Devlin DeFrancescoAndrettiHonda
2778Agustin CanapinoJuncos HollingerChevrolet
2877Callum IlottJuncos HollingerChevrolet
2950RC EnersonAbelChevrolet
3044Katherine LeggeRLLHonda
3145Christian LundgaardRLLHonda
3251Sting Ray RobbCoyne/RWRHonda
3330Jack HarveyRLLHonda

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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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6 comments on “Palou wins pole position in a record-breaking Indy 500 qualifying shootout”

  1. Aero screen looks pretty bad at Indy but who cares when they’re over 240mph on the straights and averaging over 235 WOW

    1. Aeroscreen looks cooler than F1s system, look retro, indycars have had small windsreen before. But both systems you get used to and dont notice after a few races.

  2. CD (@clipperdael)
    22nd May 2023, 10:11

    Fantastic day overall. So much better when there’s more than 33 entrants.

  3. Kanaan is an old master still going well for 9th on the grid, its like seeing David Coulthard pop up for the 2023 Monaco GP and qualifying top 10.

    1. It’s weird mathematics that you applied :) 9th in a field of 34 is like 10th in a field of 22? Makes zero sense.

  4. Wow, super exciting day! Quite the battle for pole, and the battle for the last position to qualify was quite the drama. Congrats to Harvey for making it, at his teammates expense.

Comments are closed.