Alex Palou and his team used an aggressive strategy to start off the GMR Grand Prix, starting on faster but faster-wearing alternative tires, which helped him move from third to first. Palou overtook pole-sitter Christian Lundgaard on the opening lap at Turn 12 of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Palou subsequently led the final 21 laps to take his first win of the season and fifth win of his IndyCar career (all on road courses). Palou’s #10 Dallara Honda was the only car on the starting grid selected for the start of an 85-lap race with the faster alternative red tires.
Palou told NBC Sports’ Marty Snyder that he was surprised that more drivers chose to start on the primary black tires, which have a longer life but slower pace. Palou said that his team had initially considered starting with used red goods before switching to newer alternatives. The 2021 IndyCar Series champion has a six-point lead over Pato O’Ward going into his 107th Indianapolis 500 appearance, giving him one year of lead.
Palou’s teammates Alexander Rossi and Felix Rosenqvist finished third and fifth, respectively, giving Arrow McLaren three Dallara Chevrolets in the top five. Lundgaard, who led 13 laps and took his first pole position to a season-best fourth place finish, was just one step away from aiming for the second maiden win of the season.
The focus now shifts to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s 4.5-mile oval, with the course opening on Tuesday for four days of practice followed by two qualifying days for the Indy 500. The 107th run of the biggest spectacle in racing history is scheduled for May 28, and the confidence is on the podium for Sunday’s race. Rossi won the 500-mile race at Brickyard in 2016, and O’Ward finished second last year when McLaren had the strongest Chevrolet.
Palou said his team has been working hard and trying different ways to find Indy’s lap times over the past few years. He added that the team’s consistent position over the years gives him confidence that they can take another step in what he wants to do. Rossi said Arrow McLaren’s performance was important for the mental side. Performance here doesn’t reflect on the oval, but you can see the ability to deliver results in all three cars, he said.