Time runs out on Indy 500 pole opportunity for Palou
(Photo by Hilary Ott)

Time runs out on Indy 500 pole opportunity for Palou

NTT INDYCAR points series leader Alex Palou was forced to play the waiting game when trying to advance to Day 2 of the Indianapolis 500 qualifications. And then time ran out.

After having qualified in seventh on Saturday – which would have safely put him in Sunday’s Fast 12 and have a shot of repeating as the race’s polesitter – Palou was dropped down to 13th and then later 14th. His car was lined up for more than 90 minutes for a second qualifying run, including in the No. 2 spot for at least the final 20 minutes of the day’s session.

But car after car chose to go through the Lane 1 priority qualifying line, which nullifies the driver’s previous qualifying time but gives he or she priority access to the track. Rinus Veekay, who was one spot ahead of Palou in Lane 2, was able to get off his qualifying run. But Graham Rahal was able to go out ahead of Palou via the priority lane just before 5:50 p.m. rolled around, ending the session.

Driving Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 8 DHL Honda with American Legion branding, Palou will start the 500 in the 14th spot after a qualifying average of 232.306. Rookie teammate Linus Lundqvist, driving the No. 8 American Legion Honda promoting the Be the One suicide prevention initiative, delivered a four-lap average of 231.506 to qualify 27th and start in the ninth row.

Palou hit the track in the 25th qualifying spot and opened at 232.615, followed by laps of 232.281, 232.228 and 232.100. The effort moved him into the seventh spot on the grid, but as others qualified and requalified throughout the day, he moved down to just inside the top 12, sitting at 11th heading into the final hour of the day.

“It was not a good day,” Palou said. “It started to look a bit better than yesterday after all of the issues we had. But it was just a shame we didn’t get another run. But it’s OK, starting P14 I think we can still make it happen next Sunday.”

Lundqvist drew the 16th spot in the qualifying order and delivered an opening lap of 231.898 mph. He followed with 231.614, 231.471 and 231.043. He also ended the day in Lane 2 hoping for another qualifying run.

“First things first, we qualified for the Indianapolis 500, which I’m happy to have done,” Lundqvist said. “Obviously the No. 8 American Legion Honda team hoped for more, we hoped to get another run at it, but it is what it is. I think we have a really good race car, so we are just going to get back at it next weekend, hopefully pass some cars and have some fun.”

 Will Power finished first in Day 1 qualifying with a four-lap average of 233.758. On Sunday, Scott McLaughlin won the pole with an average of 234.220.

Practice for the 500 resumes on Monday, May 20. The 108th running of the Indianapolis 500 begins at 12:45 p.m. ET on May 26.