Alex Palou secured the top spot in a busy post-qualifying practice session for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.
With the exception of Conor Daly in third, the entire top five was occupied by Chip Ganassi Racing. Palou’s claim to P1 came courtesy of a 225.649mph, putting him ahead of Marcus Ericsson. Behind Daly were Tony Kanaan and pole-sitter Scott Dixon.
Dixon remained in the garage until just shy of the halfway mark of practice and immediately made his presence felt with a 224.802mph on his opening lap, which was good enough for third at the time. He ran a total of 30 laps before packing his No. 9 Honda up early.
“Pretty good,” Dixon said of his car. “We just wanted to make sure we got the car under the right configuration for a ride heights and then get through some fuel mixtures. We just used one set of tires. I just wanted to check the balance and try and finish early, to be honest. Give the guys a bit of a break. It’s been about a brutal week for a lot of us. I think a lot of us are looking forward to having a beer and maybe some pizza, and going to bed.”
The most significant drama of the session happened roughly 25 minutes in when Simon Pagenaud’s No. 22 Team Penske Chevrolet sprayed a trail of smoke entering Turn 1, directly in front of the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet of Sage Karam. Fortunately, Pagenaud was able to get through the corner and direct the stricken car off the track.
“I did not feel anything before Turn 1,” said Pagenaud, the 2019 Indy 500 champion. “Basically, my spotter told me, ‘Back her down’ and I heard the engine seizing. I knew we were blowing up. Yeah, it was funny, I was racing Colton there, had a good run, but backed out of it, and yet we blew up there. No problem. I mean, we’re pushing the envelope as much as we can. We’ve been looking for speed; it happens. It’s racing. Thanks to Chevy, I’ve won Indy here with them. You push the envelope and try to find speed, sometimes it blows up.”
The incident with Pagenaud paused the on-track action for around nine and a half minutes.
Palou went to the top in the last quarter-hour of the session, logging a total of 52 laps.
Although there was a plethora of action and passing during the afternoon, if one driver sent a late message it was Alexander Rossi. The 2016 Indy 500 winner and driver of the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda made a darting three-wide pass under teammate Colton Herta and Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden entering Turn 1 with less than two minutes remaining.
There was a total of 2,093 laps run in the session.
The next time cars will hit the track will be for final practice for Carb Day on Friday.