Palou Indy
Alex Palou was fastest in the first of two Friday practice sessions. (Photo: Al Steinberg)

Palou Tops First Indy Road Course Practice

 INDIANAPOLIS – Just when it looked like rookie Callum Ilott would finish Friday’s opening practice session at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the top of the chart, it was defending NTT IndyCar champion Alex Palou who took the top spot in the closing seconds.

Palou’s No. 10 American Legion Honda ran a lap at 1:10.4555 around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn IMS road course.

Prior to that, Ilott continued to impress on the street and road courses in the IndyCar Series. The rookie driver from Juncos-Hollinger Racing lapped the IMS road course in 1:10.4593.

“So far, so good,” team owner Richard Juncos said. “We learned something two weeks ago at Barber and we were able to continue that here.”

The session was paused with 45 seconds to go because the red flag waved after Helio Castroneves’ spun the No. 06 Honda in Turn 13.

Because the field was guaranteed 45-minutes of practice, they were allowed 1-minute, 35-seconds to find another fast lap at the end of the session.

Most of the cars took advantage of the extra time, but none were able to supplant Ilott from the top of the timing chart.

Three-time GMR Grand Prix winner Will Power of Team Penske was third at 1:10.5277 in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet. Graham Rahal was fourth at 1:10.6125 in the No. 15 Honda. Felix Rosenqvist’s Chevrolet rounded out the top five at 1:10.7108.

On the first installation lap, Scott Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank Honda started to smoke and returned to the pits. According to Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull, the team had installed a new exhaust system and it was the rosin burning off from the installation.

After that issue was resolved, the 27 cars that will participate in Saturday’s 3 p.m. ET race turned laps around the IMS road course.

Power claimed the top spot at 1:10.6897 with 18 minutes to go in the session. That knocked Rosenqvist off the top of the timing list at 1:10.7108, who was just ahead of three-time GMR Grand Prix winner Simon Pagenaud’s No. 60 Honda at 1:10.7459 for Meyer Shank Racing.

That would shuffle slightly by the end of the session.

A second practice session is set for 12:45 p.m. ET followed by qualifications at 4 p.m. ET.

Click here for practice results.