Photo: Brandon K. Carter/ASP, Inc.

Practice Makes Perfect: Palou Sets Early Pace at Detroit


DETROIT – Alex Palou, one of the smoothest drivers in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, sure has taken a liking to the rough-and-tumble Streets of Detroit circuit since its debut in 2023.

Palou opened his defense of his Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear victory last year by leading the first practice for this year’s event Friday with a top lap of 1 minute, 1.7210 seconds in the No. 10 DHL Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

SEE: Practice Results

Two-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Palou will aim for his second consecutive pole on the nine-turn, 1.645-mile circuit on bumpy city streets and lined with concrete barriers during NTT P1 Award qualifying at 12:15 p.m. ET Saturday (Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network). Palou leads the championship by 20 points over Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon after five of 17 points-paying races this season.

“It was busy,” Palou said. “I visited the run-off areas a couple of times here and there, just trying to find the limit and the grip of the track. The track is grippier, a lot grippier, than last year. Pretty happy. The car feels good so far.”

Pato O’Ward, runner-up last Sunday in a thrilling finish of the 108th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, was second in the 75-minute session today under sunny skies in the Motor City with a top lap of 1:01.7315 in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet. Colton Herta was third at 1:01.7968 in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda of Andretti Global w/Curb-Agajanian.

Kyle Kirkwood, winner of street-circuit races last season at Long Beach and Nashville, was fourth at 1:01.8103 in the No. 27 AutoNation Honda as Andretti Global was the only team with two drivers in the top five.

Scott McLaughlin rounded out the top five at 1:02.0959 in the No. 3 Gallagher Team Penske Chevrolet.

Josef Newgarden, who earned his second straight Indy 500 win last Sunday, was sixth at 1:02.2377 in the No. 3 Hitachi Astemo Team Penske Chevrolet despite contact with Kirkwood when traffic backed up on the course.

Wall contact by Jack Harvey forced a red flag with less than 15 minutes left in the session. Harvey clipped the left-side barrier in Turn 7, careening across the track and hitting the right-side barrier before his No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda stopped between Turns 7 and 8. Harvey was unhurt.

Up next is a one-hour practice at 9:10 a.m. ET Saturday (Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network), followed by qualifying in the early afternoon. Live coverage of the 100-lap race starts at noon ET Sunday on the USA Network, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

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