Race Weekend Central

Alex Palou Fails to Advance in Qualifying, Will Start 15th at Toronto

Through the first eight races of the NTT IndyCar Series season, one of Alex Palou’s superpowers has been his ability to qualify at or near the front of the field.

Good starts have led to good finishes, and the 26-year-old Spaniard has used that to his advantage. After starting the first two races of the season in the seventh position, Palou has followed that up with six straight starts within the first two rows on the grid, including capturing the pole position for the Indianapolis 500 and on the streets of Detroit.

That qualifying pace has been a big factor in Palou’s winning four of the last five races, and one reason why Palou headed north of the border to this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto with a massive, 110-point lead in the championship standings.

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Christian Lundgaard Takes Second Pole of 2023 in Toronto

Palou has shown few weaknesses and has given his competitors few openings to cut into that lead, until Saturday (July 15), that is. A poor qualifying effort led to Palou failing to advance out of the first round of qualifying, and he will line up 15th when the green flag falls Sunday afternoon.

Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden, the two closest pursuers in the championship, will start seventh and 11th, respectively.

As the clock was ticking down on Palou’s qualifying group, it appeared that he was tracking on a lap where he could possibly advance. But as the session was ending, heavy rain began to fall on the circuit, and lap times quickly slowed.

Still, Palou didn’t blame the conditions.

“I just think we didn’t really put together everything we had,” Palou said. “We had a little more pace than that, but we just couldn’t improve on the alternates.”

What might buoy Palou’s spirits heading into the race is that he was in a similar situation in Toronto a year ago. Palou started in the 22nd position in 2022, but raced his way through the field and finished a strong sixth.

See also
2023 IndyCar Honda Indy Toronto Preview

“We are starting from the back but we know we have a fast car,” Palou said. “As long as you start further back than 10th, it’s going to be a busy race. [Sunday] is the first time of the year for us, and hopefully the last, and we’ll have to work for it.”

Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing will take the field to the green from the pole, and Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin will start beside him in the front row for the 85-lap, 151-mile race.

The race will be streamed live on the Peacock network with coverage scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 16.

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