Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing’s 2021 IndyCar Series champion, will lead the field to the green flag for next Sunday’s 107th running of the Indianapolis 500 after beating Rinus VeeKay with a record-breaking pole run in the Firestone Fast Six shootout.
Pato O’Ward set a strong opening lap of 233.756mph and backed it up with a 233.490mph, 232.962mph and 232.430mph to set the benchmark of 233.158mph.
CGR’s Scott Dixon responded with a stronger opener, but lost over 1mph on his second, and his third and fourth laps were slower than O’Ward’s equivalents, and he fell 0.007mph short of the young Mexican ace’s average. That’s the same gap by which Graham Rahal was beaten by Jack Harvey and eliminated from this year’s Indianapolis 500, and it meant Rick Mears’ record six Indy 500 poles survives for another year.
Palou opened with a 235.131mph, almost a full 1mph quicker than Dixon’s, following it with a 234.399mph. A 233.9mph followed by a 233.4mph on laps three and four meant he eclipsed O’Ward by well over 0.9mph and set the new average at 234.217mph.
Immediately the Ganassi driver’s run came under threat, as Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing lapped at 235.019mph, and his second and third laps were marginally better than Palou’s. However, his first and fourth laps were just worse enough to fail to displace the Ganassi driver, by 0.006mph around 10 miles of racetrack.
Santino Ferrucci’s AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet tried to respond but an alarming moment at Turn 1 bled off some of his opening-lap potential, and while he lost only 1mph across the four laps, he still finished up ahead of O’Ward and Dixon.
Felix Rosenqvist was the last to run as a result of his fastest time this morning, and while his 234.6mph opener wasn’t promising, his run was remarkably consistent, losing less than 1mph. The Swede fell just short, but ensured the front row was occupied by three cars with a 234mph average, and comprised three different teams – Chip Ganassi Racing, Ed Carpenter Racing and Arrow McLaren – and both of IndyCar’s engine manufacturers.