MIM leads 47 laps out of 200, then charges to P9 with 29 on-track passes after team error drops him to the back
Monaco Increase Management driver Alex Palou was in his best winning shape today on his third Indianapolis 500. His #10 white and pale blue car had been tuned to perfection, like all other CGR cars. Starting from the first row, the 25-years-old Spaniard quickly had passed poleman Scott Dixon to take the lead of the 200-lap event. Perfectly executing a team strategy, Palou and Dixon swapped positions several times in the first third of the race, keeping all other competitors at bay through the first round of pit-stops and one caution period to recover Rinus Veekay’s crashed car. Nothing, apparently could stop Palou and his team-mate’s run for the victory: it was just the perfect day. Then, on lap 69, Callum Ilott hit the wall causing another full-course yellow. It was just at that very moment that the team called Alex in for his second pit-call: driving to the inside lane and into the pit-road, Palou found that the red light had just been turned on. Pit-stops are not allowed under those conditions and the MIM-supported driver had to drive though the pit lane, rejoin the track and drive for another full lap before entering again for a splash of fuel. The rules allowed him to put ethanol in so that he didn’t run dry, but no tire change was permitted under red light, so Palou had to come out and back in again to complete the procedure-at the end of which, of course, he found himself at the back of the pack in P28. Undeterred, Palou started to slowly come back. When another caution was called following Grosjean’s accident, Palou emerged from the pit road as twentieth and then passed Will Power and Devlin Defrancesco, even briefly re-taking the lead of the race thanks to a delayed stop strategy.
With about 50 laps to go, Palou really unleashed the full potential of his car, taking advantage of yet another yellow to climb as high as P11. His last stop – again from the lead – came on Lap 183. He overtook Ferrucci for P12 and, as other drivers yet had to do their last pitcall, he rose to P8 when the red flag came out following Jimmie Johnson’s infield accident. All cars lined up in the pit road for the final assault, and the race was re-started with just two laps to go. Palou was in traffic, fighting with both Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud, and the very last caution caught him in P9 after a sensational comeback. Overall, Palou made 29 on-track passes, more than any other driver, and led for 47 of the 200 total laps, which is second best today. No doubt he could have been a contender for the win given his speed today, but at least Palou could collect precious championship points ahead of the next two rounds in as many weekends.