The epic tussle for pole position in the 107th running of the Indianapolis 500, ultimately clinched by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou, has resulted in some remarkable statistics.
Palou delivered four laps of 235.131mph, 234.399mph, 233.930mph and 233.415mph — an average of 234.217mph. That run survived two assaults, with Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay also delivering a 235mph lap, and slightly superior second and third laps, but ultimately falling 0.006mph short of Palou’s benchmark.
Arrow McLaren’s Chevy of Felix Rosenqvist – pacesetter on Fast Friday and in this morning’s qualifying simulations – had a more consistent run that bled off less than 1mph across the four laps, but didn’t have the startling first lap opener to overcome Palou. Thus Chip Ganassi Racing scored its eighth pole at the 500 and its third consecutive pole at the Speedway after Scott Dixon claimed P1 in 2021 and ’22.
Statistician Scott Richards worked out that the first ever all-234mph front row in Indy 500 history also resulted in the closest gap between first and third. The four-lap averages of Palou and the man he replaced at Ganassi, Rosenqvist, were just 0.103mph apart, beating the previous record of 0.112mph between James Hinchcliffe, Josef Newgarden and Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2016.
Palou’s and VeeKay’s gap of 0.006mph is the second-smallest gap between first and second in Indy history, the narrowest difference being 0.003s between Ryan Briscoe and Hinchcliffe in 2012.
The result means that the three front-row starters come from three different teams and both of IndyCar’s engine manufacturers, Honda and Chevrolet, are represented. While neither of those stats are unusual, what is remarkable is the fact that the trio’s combined number of Indy 500 starts is only 10. That’s the lowest since 2004, when Buddy Rice, the late Dan Wheldon and Dario Franchitti started 1-2-3 and had only three starts between them.
A not-surprising corollary of that stat is that this is the third-youngest front row in history. The only younger ones are 2013 – Ed Carpenter, Carlos Munoz and Marco Andretti (26 years and 9 months) – and 1930 – Billy Arnold, Louis Meyer and Shorty Cantlon (25 years, 7 months).
It is also the first time Indy 500 history that the front row consists entirely of European-born drivers – Palou is from Spain, VeeKay from the Netherlands and Rosenqvist from Sweden.