May 28, 2023

It was racing against all odds for MIM-managed driver Alex Palou in the 107th Running of the Indy 500, but in the end he took home a fourth place finish after a sensational comeback from the bottom of the grid, following a freakish accident in which his #10 American Legion car was hit and damaged in the pit lane by Rinus Veekay’s car, the Dutchman losing control while accelerating from a pit-stop. Palou still leads the series standings, having increased his point tally to 219, twenty more than team-mate Marcus Ericsson and 34 clear of third placed Pato O’Ward.

Alex Palou had spent the week in between qualifying and the race being busy with the preparation and all promotional activities an Indy pole-sitter normally has to go through. After his record qualifying, the CGR driver managed by Monaco Increase looked set for yet another good result (so far he has recorded 1 win, 1 pole position, 5 top-five and 6 top-10 finishes). And indeed, it looked like an Indy 500 victory was up for grabs as Palou was able to control the field at the start, trading the lead with Rinus Veekay in order to save fuel and tires in the first part of the 200-lap event.

Very little changed for 90 laps or so, Palou serving his first two pit-stops on Lap 31 and 62 respectively and staying consistently in the leading pack. Then drama struck on Lap 92, in the form of Sting ray Robb hitting the barrier and causing a full-track caution. Cars dived into the pit road as soon as it was open, and it was then than Veekay, accelerating from his post, suffered sudden oversteer and drove straight into Palou’s car which had just left CGR’s servicing area. Palou had to serve an additional pit call for a new nose and front wing (while Veekay was penalized for his move) and only managed to come back to track in P20.

It looked like Palou’s hopes were dashed to the ground once again, but Alex and his strategy engineer Barry Wanser were able to work their way through the field, so that by Lap 140 the Spaniard had rejoined the top-10 group and passed Sato for P9. Until halfway through, the 107th edition of the ‘fastest race in the world’ had looked fast indeed, but the final stages were marred by a series of incidents that brought out as many as three red flags in a row, Formula One-style! The most horrific accident came with sixteen laps to go as Felix Rosenqvist lost control of his car in Turn 1, brushing the outer wall and coming back on track sideways. Kirkwood could not avoid clipping Rosenqvist’s wheel and his car became airborne and flipped over, while a wheel was torn off from the car and landed in a parking lot over the safety fence!

Palou kept a cool head through the chaos, actually gaining positions as O’Ward also crashed with eight laps to go. The third and last interruption came on lap 196 following a multiple car accident. At the time, Palou had climbed as high as P5 as the race resumed as a single flying lap shootout. When the pace car pulled over, Palou passed Alexander Rossi for P4 and kept position through the chequered flag. This is Alex’s second-best result in four editions disputed. The race eventually went to Josef Newgarden as the Indycar circus gets ready for its next event at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix next weekend.