Race Weekend Central

Alex Palou Wins Pole for 2023 Indy 500, Graham Rahal Fails to Qualify

Alex Palou won the first Indianapolis 500 pole position of his career during Sunday’s (May 21) Fast Six qualifying session, setting the fastest pole speed in Indy 500 history in the process. Palou finished second to Helio Castroneves in the 2021 running of the race.

Joining Palou on the front row for next Sunday’s (May 28) race will be Rinus VeeKay and Felix Rosenqvist. Santino Ferrucci, Pato O’Ward and Scott Dixon will make up the second row.

“[Watching the others qualify] was not ideal, honestly, it was tougher than doing the four laps,” Palou told NBC after qualifying. “We knew that we had to go aggressive – trim the car a lot – to get a good first lap and try to be consistent. The fourth lap was really tough, to keep it flat, but we did it. It was one chance only.”

Ferrucci and Rosenqvist entered the Fast Six session as the presumptive favorites, the former having lit up the time sheets yesterday (May 20) and the latter having topped the Fast 12 session with a four-lap average of 234.046 mph.

Tony Kanaan will start his final Indy 500 from the outside of the third row, in ninth place. Takuma Sato will roll off just to Kanaan’s left in eighth. Rookie Benjamin Pedersen will line up 11th on Sunday.

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On the flip side of the coin is Graham Rahal, who was shockingly eliminated from the Last Chance Qualifier by his teammate Jack Harvey.

Harvey started the LCQ as the slowest car in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan stable, but put together a last minute run which bumped his teammate from the field shortly after the clock struck zero.

“We weren’t good enough,” Rahal relented. “We were the slowest of our cars just on pure pace all week … just next year. I knew from the start we were in trouble.”

Coincidentally, Rahal’s misfortune comes 30 years after his father, Bobby Rahal, was shockingly eliminated from qualifying for the 1993 Indy 500.

Of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan cars, only the one-off entry of Katherine Legge made the show during Saturday’s session. Christian Lundgaard was the first to take to the track during Sunday’s LCQ, and one run proved sufficient to secure the Dane’s place in the Indy 500. Sting Ray Robb‘s Dale Coyne entry slotted in 32nd and likewise only had to make one run to keep himself clear of the Rahal drama.

2023 Indianapolis 500 Qualifying Results

The 2023 Indianapolis 500 will be covered by NBC on Sunday, May 28, starting at 11 a.m. ET.

About the author

Alex is the IndyCar Content Director at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also serves as Managing Director of The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region which he co-founded in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

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