By David Morgan, Associate Editor
INDIANAPOLIS – Alex Palou comes into the weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as the NTT IndyCar Series points leader and served notice during Friday’s lone practice for the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix that he intends on staying there.
Posting a lap of 1 minute, 10.883 seconds, Palou climbed to the top of the leaderboard late in the 50-minute session and was able to hold off a late flurry of activity to lead the way when the checkered flag flew.
Winner of May’s GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course, Rinus VeeKay, timed in second, followed by Pato O’Ward, Jack Harvey, Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Christian Lundgaard, Graham Rahal, Marcus Ericsson, and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
“I think we have a great car,” VeeKay said of trying to repeat his win from May. “I think we need a win. Everyone is super focused on it and think we can really do it again…We’ve had a few hard races. We know this track is good for our car. Our car is good here. If we get some good results here, we go to Gateway, which was a great race last year. Then we get to the West Coast, which is absolutely amazing. I think we can definitely have good results and be done with the mediocre results the last few races.”
Making his IndyCar debut this weekend with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Christian Lundgard, a two-time Formula 2 winner, noted that he is just hoping to soak everything in during practice, qualifying, and the race.
“I’m just trying to take it all in,” Lundgard said prior to practice. “I don’t think I’m really in the position to put any expectations on myself. I haven’t driven or been at a race weekend in IndyCar. I don’t know what it’s like. For me, even just to get to Q2, it’s not really about the position. Yes, there are more positions to play for, but it’s just getting the track time and learning the track and so on. It’s about track time and taking everything in that I can and learning as much as possible.
Next up for the 28-car field will be qualifying to set the field for Saturday’s 85 lap race, with qualifying rolling off at 7:00 pm Eastern on Peacock.