Prior to beginning his racing weekend at the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix in Barber, AL, Monaco Increase Management driver Alex Palou had visited the US Space and Rocket Center in nearby Huntsville. Wearing a spacesuit and posing under the powerful jet engines that once launched space probes in an orbit around the Earth must have helped him find the extra speed to clinching first row start in today’s Grand Prix!
Palou managed P2 on the grid alongside former F1 driver Romain Grosjean, after easily topping the sheets in his qualifying group and scoring a fourth best time in the Top 12 session, thus gaining access to the final Fast Six shootout. The Spaniard’s qualifying time in this last session was 1min 05sec 9130, just 0.0734 seconds shy of Grosjean’s pole time. His average speed in that lap was 125.620 mph (202,122 Kph). This is Palou’s best qualifying performance so far this year and bodes well for the race on the 2.380 (3,830) racing course.
“It was really close, too close”, Palou commented right after Qualifying. “We’re starting on the front row tomorrow, which is great. We have a really strong car this weekend. We’ll tweak some stuff during warmup to try and put that No. 10 Ridgeline Lubricants car on victory lane. Should be a good race.”
The Barber road course brings up very good memories in Palou as it was the scene for his maiden Indycar win two years ago. On that occasion, the MIM driver had qualified third in his #10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda-powered Dallara car. From row two on the grid, Palou moved on eventually crossing the finish line a mere 0sec4016 ahead of Scott Dixon, after having led 56 out of 90 laps. A star was born that day and Palou went on to win the IndyCar crown at the end of the same year, adding up two more race wins to his tally (plus another one in the last round of the 2022 season).
This year, Palou will be one slot up the grid but he realizes he has no easy task ahead. Yet he has already showed that race management is probably his strong point so he’s ready to take on the challenge for the race that starts on Sunday at 9.15 PM CET.