Palou on being the first Spaniard to take pole at the Indy 500: “It makes it a bit more special”

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Alex Palou can definitely say it has definitely been “a good month of May so far”. The Indy GP winner went quickest in the Fast Six segment to take pole for the Indy 500, with a record breaking four-lap average speed of 234.217 and will be for sure one to watch out for next Sunday.

The first Spanish driver to take the the Indy 500 pole, the Chip Ganassi driver was even more pleased with his final result after missing out on the first spot on the grid to his teammate Scott Dixon last year, as he said in the post-qualifying press conference:

“Amazing. Last year we were really close. It was really close last year. We lost it against Dixon, where he did an amazing four-lap run. This year we knew it was going to be even closer against these two guys. They were really fast all month.

“We went aggressive. It worked this time. Super proud. Been a good month of May so far.”

Pole sitter by the second smallest margin in the history of it, Palou highlighted the importance that last year’s great but not good enough for pole run had in achieving the top result this time round.

“Yeah, it’s been amazing for the 10 car, honestly. This start of the season, especially the month of May, couldn’t be better with the GMR Grand Prix and obviously the pole today. We knew we had a fast car since the beginning.

“We had to take advantage of that. Yeah, enjoying my time here. Last year, as I said, we were really close, learned how we could go be more aggressive if we were in that position again, and lucky if we were in that position again today, we took it.”

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment | Chris Jones

Asked on the very intense way him and his team celebrated the pole position, the 2021 championship winner mentioned the effort it takes to prepare such for such a huge event and the importance even pole position has at this very historical track:

“I knew that it meant — it doesn’t mean more than a win or a win doesn’t mean more than this. I think they’re very separate. This place is so special. We’ve been here for more than two weeks, working on this race car for more than a year. As soon as we finished Indy 500 last year, they started working on Indy 500 2023,” he added, remarking the significance everyone gives to the race.

“There’s so much effort that goes into this, not only from myself, the engineering team, the mechanics, everybody back at the shop, that it means a lot. It’s different, as I said. It doesn’t feel better or worse than a win, it just feels different, and as I said, I think we couldn’t do a better job until today, so that’s why we celebrated that way.”

A key factor in securing the top time today was the “aggressiveness” of his car setup, as he explained that in accordion with his team, they decided to opt for the fastest configuration possible for the car number 10:

“It means just the way to go faster here apart from having a fast car that I knew I had, a fast engine, which I knew I had, it’s to try to start trimming the car out, taking downforce out, sliding into corners a bit more but going faster on the straights.

“We did that. We went aggressive. We were the car that was more trimmed yesterday I would say and also today,” the Chip Ganassi driver remarked.

Palou also brought up the fact that he hopes the historical result he obtained for Spain will inspire other young Spanish drivers to cross the ocean just like he did:

“It makes it a bit more special. I’ll be the first Spaniard to be on pole for the Indy 500, but yeah, hopefully I’m not the last one. Hopefully there’s more young kids that now they see that they can do well here, as well, in the future, not now. But yeah, honestly, I think it’s great. Hopefully as I said, just motivates young people to come here,” he concluded.