Alex Palou

A review or a preview? Or both?

What Alex Palou showed Saturday – and showed last year – is that action in the Month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway runs through him.

Palou nearly swept last year’s two NTT INDYCAR SERIES events at IMS, winning the road race from the pole and then falling just short of a victory in the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, a race where he also started atop the pylon.

Saturday, Chip Ganassi Racing’s reigning and two-time series champion hung another convincing victory on the board, beating Team Penske’s Will Power in the Sonsio Grand Prix by 6.6106 seconds. Last year, Palou’s margin over his nearest competitor was 16.8006 seconds.

Again, Palou heads to Tuesday’s first “500” practice (9 a.m. ET, Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network) with a head of steam, and it’s not a stretch to think he could be seeking his third consecutive victory in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Yes, Palou has been that good in the past two Memorial Day weekend races, and he will be a favorite to win the 108th Running on Sunday, May 26.

Two years ago, Palou was leading Indy mid-race when a caution came as he committed to coming to pit road. That drew a penalty for entering a closed pit, dropping him to the end of the lead lap. Palou scrambled from 30th to finish ninth. Last year, Palou’s chance to win Indy was derailed by pit lane contact from Rinus VeeKay. Again, he fought back, settling for a fourth-place finish after having led 36 laps.

Now, The Big One awaits. Palou is ready and so is his No. 10 DHL Honda.

“It always helps,” Palou said of the momentum that is generated by a trip to victory lane at IMS.

Palou isn’t the only driver eager for what’s next. We all are. But first, an instant recall.

Is Palou Flawless?

No, but he’s close to it.

Saturday, he made one mistake, overdriving the first corner of the race, a slide wide that allowed fellow front-row starter Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing to edge past on the right. Lundgaard led the first 18 laps, and it wasn’t until Lap 40 that Palou got back atop the leaderboard.

Palou’s second pit stop was one for the money. His Chip Ganassi Racing crew kept him on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course a lap longer than Lundgaard and two laps beyond Power, and he was able to jump them as they got bogged down by traffic. Palou’s gain was six-tenths of a second, and he was never headed. The win was the 10th of his still very young career.

Palou used last year’s IMS road race victory to help construct one of the most impressive stretches in series history: Four wins in five races, with the pole in the “500.” His average finish in those: 1.6.

Could the back-to-back road race victory set up a title repeat? Don’t bet against him.

Power is Powerful

Now Power, the driver of the No. 12 Verizon Business Team Penske Chevrolet, just needs a race win.

Power has been in 31 consecutive races without ending up in first place, easily the longest victory drought of his decorated career. But don’t mistake him for being in a slump.

Last year, the two-time series champion dealt with the illness of his wife, and with Liz’s improved health, he is off to an outstanding start to this season – three second-place finishes in the first four races. And, he has three straight top-three qualifying positions.

Stacking second-place finishes is noteworthy. Power entered the year with 28 such results in his career, and in short order he has overtaken Dario Franchitti (29) and the 30 of Bobby Unser, A.J. Foyt and Al Unser Jr. in that category. Power is now tied with Al Unser for sixth place on the all-time list.

Power certainly would prefer to take the next step in the results, particularly in the “500,” a race he won in 2018. But championships are won with high-level consistency, and here’s how good Power has been: His average finish this season is 3.0, better even than Palou’s 3.25. However, Palou leads Power in the standings by 12 points.

Lundgaard Impresses Again

There’s no confirmation of this, but Lundgaard has to be near the top of the silly season list for series jobs in 2025, and that assumes he hasn’t committed to a team already.

The driver of the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda again had a sensational event, finishing third. In the past four IMS road races, the 22-year-old Danish driver has finished second, fourth and third. He won the pole for last year’s second race at the circuit, which means he has consecutive front-row starts.

This result might have been better if not for the second pit stop. First, there appeared to be a hiccup attaching the new right rear tire, and then the positioning of the pit boxes meant Lundgaard had to navigate Power’s left-rear tire changer to get back into the action. The combination of factors allowed Power to get away just ahead of Lundgaard.

Drives like Saturday’s is why the 2023 winner of the Honda Indy Toronto continues to be one of the series’ rising stars.

Others Who Should Be Happy

Start with Chip Ganassi, who saw three of his cars finish in the top five.

Following Palou to the finish line were six-time series champion Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) in fourth place and second-year series driver Marcus Armstrong (No. 11 IU Simon Cancer Center Honda) in fifth. Armstrong’s result was the best of his 16 races in this series. Dixon is third in the standings as he chases Foyt’s all-time record of seven series titles.

Scott McLaughlin (No. 3 Sonsio Team Penske Chevrolet) also must feel better about his place in the standings. He is sixth – 64 points out of the lead with 13 races remaining – after being last among 29 drivers following the disqualification of his third-place result in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg by RP Funding for improperly using INDYCAR’s overtake system.

McLaughlin took contact on Saturday’s opening lap, an incident that started with a bump of RLL’s Pietro Fittipaldi (No. 30 Mi-Jack Honda) and VeeKay (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet) in Turn 1. Nearly every driver in the second half of the 27-car field had to scramble to avoid a potentially larger problem. Later in the race, McLaughlin caught a break when the caution for the spin of rookie Luca Ghiotto (No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing Honda) as the caution helped him finish sixth.

Colton Herta (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda of Andretti Global w/Curb-Agajanian) started 24th due to running out of fuel in his qualifying run and then in the race got knocked into a sand trap by teammate Marcus Ericsson (No. 28 Delaware Life Honda), who received a five-position penalty. But Herta, who entered the race with the series lead for the first time in his career, put his head down and came charging back. He finished seventh, a result that might prove to be noteworthy at season’s end when awards are handed out. He is fourth in the standings.

Finally, a shoutout to Felix Rosenqvist, who climbed back from being pushed to the grass in the opening-lap scramble to finish 10th. In his first season with Meyer Shank Racing’s No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda, Rosenqvist has four consecutive top-10 finishes and is fifth in the standings heading to Indy.

The Big One is next.