Rookie Alex Palou is hoping to use the first race of the Harvest GP double-header to better understand why he wasn’t able to get more performance out of the softer, red-walled tires in qualifying yesterday.
The starting grid for this afternoon’s IndyCar race will be bookended by rookies, with Rinus VeeKay on pole and Dalton Kellett starting at the rear after he struggled to put in a solid lap in qualifying.
Firmly in the middle of the grid on the ninth row is where Palou, the only other rookie entrant with Oliver Askew sidelined while he recovers from concussion symptoms, will line up.
“We didn’t have a major problem,” said Palou when asked about his qualifying performance. “I think we just didn’t get 100% from the red tire.
“On the blacks we were good and we had a competitive car, we just lack some performance on the reds.
“Sometimes you don’t really understand why you don’t get 100%, but it’s not that we were a second off [the pace]. We were just three-tenths off, but it’s so close here that you are 17th instead of in the top 10.
“Hopefully we can use today’s race to understand the reds. We think it’s going to be a red-tire race. Then hopefully we can get a better result for qualifying tomorrow.”
Though he is more than halfway down the order, Palou’s qualifying effort improves upon his starting position when the series raced here back in July. In that race, the young Spaniard was only able to improve a couple positions over the course of the 80 laps.
Palou will look to pilot his Dale Coyne Racing Honda to the front of the field by following some of the other drivers who had less-than-ideal qualifying runs, such as Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud.
Race one of the double-header weekend from the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course this afternoon at 3:30 PM EDT.