DETROIT – Alex Palou spent plenty of time in the runoff areas Friday afternoon and Saturday morning while finding the limits of grip and speed on the new Streets of Detroit circuit.
That education in practice paid off Saturday, as 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Palou will start the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear on Sunday from the best position – pole.
SEE: Qualifying Results
2021 series champion Palou earned his third career pole and second in a row – he also won the NTT P1 Award for the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge last month – in the No. 10 Ridgeline Lubricants Honda fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing. His best lap of 1 minute, 1.8592 seconds with 70 seconds left in the Firestone Fast Six withstood a handful of attempts to topple it.
“We started on used greens (Firestone alternate tires) that we used in the Fast 12, and it didn’t feel really good,” Palou said. “I was concerned if we were going to be able to make two laps or not, but super happy. My first pole on street course. We had a great car since the beginning.
“It’s going to be a tough day tomorrow, for sure. I got off (course) a lot in practice. We were wanting to see where the limit was. We found it. But man, it’s a crazy track.”
Live coverage of the 100-lap race on the bumpy, tight, nine-turn, 1.7-mile temporary street circuit in downtown Detroit starts at 3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.
Scott McLaughlin will join championship leader Palou on the front row after his best lap of 1:02.1592 in the No. 3 Gallagher Insurance Team Penske Chevrolet.
Romain Grosjean qualified third at 1:02.2896 in the No. 28 DHL Honda. Six-time series champion Scott Dixon, who led practice Saturday morning, will join Grosjean in Row 2 after qualifying fourth at 1:02.4272 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
Newly crowned Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Josef Newgarden overcame the fatigue of a hectic week of celebration and media and sponsor activities after his dramatic Indy victory to qualify fifth at 1:02.5223 in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. Marcus Ericsson rounded out the Firestone Fast Six at 1:02.6184 in the No. 8 Huski Ice Spritz Honda.
McLaughlin was one of the last drivers on a flying lap during the Firestone Fast Six but couldn’t eclipse Palou’s best lap.
“Credit to him – great lap,” McLaughlin said. “Man, this is a tough old joint here. You’re wheeling it pretty hard. We just didn’t quite have it, but this is a great result for us in the Gallagher Chevy. This is a real tough challenge.”
Marcus Armstrong was the top qualifier among the four rookies in the field, 11th in the No. 11 The American Legion Honda at 1:02.2958.