Conceding that the events of the past week have created “a really hot topic,” reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Alex Palou vowed on Friday to do his best to help Chip Ganassi Racing win another NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship. season, and the contractual situation in which he is involved. – two teams claiming their rights for 2023 – could be an advantage in this weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto at Exhibition Place.
“We are all professionals,” Palou told reporters on Friday, three days after CGR and McLaren Racing each announced he would drive for them in 2023. “We want the same thing (at CGR), which is- ie win. That’s all, period (and) I hope it’s going to be like that.
“Personally, myself, I don’t think (the contractual situation) is going to affect me at all. I have more questions to answer (and) it will be more difficult than usual, but at the end of the day I am a driver; it’s the only thing I know how to do. It’s not going to affect me negatively in terms of performance at all, maybe even the opposite because all eyes are on me, and I know that as soon as I’m on track, everyone will be looking for that number 10 (car).”
Driving the #10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Palou posted the 10th fastest lap in Friday’s 75-minute practice at 1 minute 1.0522 seconds. Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport (#27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/SiriusXM Honda) led all drivers with a lap of 1:00.6090. The top nine drivers completed laps in under 1:01.
Palou, a 25-year-old Spaniard, is fourth in the season standings, 35 points off the series lead. Palou declined to comment on several questions related to where he will be driving next season.
“I understand it’s something you’re very interested in – I would do the same if I were you,” he said. “But I have nothing more to add to what I said (Tuesday on Twitter). I’m not going to say more (than) what I’ve already said.
“We’re here, we’re in Toronto, and we’re fighting for a championship together, and we’re going to try to do our best to try and win it.”
Palou said he spoke with crew members on his No. 10 car, and he said they understood they all had a job to do for Chip Ganassi Racing.
“We both understand each other,” he said.
Palou, who also said he spoke to Ganassi since the drama began, says he doesn’t know how, or when, this situation will be resolved.
“Honestly, I have no idea,” he said. “I mean, (I’ve) never been in that position, so I have no idea. … I’m not going to tell you, ‘Hey, yeah, let’s have a beer and solve it.’ I have no idea. But I hope it will be like that. »
Palou won three races and the series championship in 2021, his first season with CGR. He hasn’t won a race this season, although he has finished second three times, including the July 3 race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will race the temporary 11-turn, 1.786-mile street circuit in Toronto for the first time in 2019. This will be Palou’s first race of any kind at Exhibition Place.
“Because it’s (a) super short (track), every detail matters, and it’s super bumpy with patches and stuff,” Palou said. “So it’s a tough course. I think it’s a challenge.
Pagenaud gets another good start
Expect a strong performance from Simon Pagenaud (#60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda) of Meyer Shank Racing in qualifying. He started in the top four of his last six NTT INDYCAR SERIES races at Exhibition Place, with a pair of poles (2017 and 2019) and an average starting position of 2.3 from 2014 to 2019.
Pagenaud set the second fastest lap in Friday practice in 1:00.6991, and he was delighted.
“It was a very good first training,” said the Frenchman. “We still have work to do. I would like to take the car to another level…we just have to figure out how to improve the rear, mainly. But overall, a very good start to the weekend.
“I love that track, man. The section in front of the pits is, for a driver, (great). You want precision and you have to be on that. It’s so intense. (Miss a bit) and you will hit the wall and crash, so it’s a lot of fun.
Malukas tells Harried Indy 500
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard (#30 HUB International Honda) leads Dale Coyne Racing with HMD’s David Malukas (#18 HMD HMD Honda) by 14 points in the Rookie of the Year Race series heading into the final eight races of the season.
Malukas told the INDYCAR Radio Network about the stress he felt during his first Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge in May. He had four-time race winner Helio Castroneves (#06 Meyer Shank Racing AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda) behind him for part of the race.
“He was behind me for a whole tire stint,” Malukas said. “You have no idea how nervous I was. I could tell he was trying to break me down saying, ‘Come on kid, make a mistake!’ “
Malukas was the highest-ranked “500” rookie in 16th. Castroneves finished seventh.
Lundgaard and Malukas set the fastest laps among rookies in Friday practice, finishing 11th and 14th respectively on the speed chart.
Fellow rookie Callum Ilott (#77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet) made the first contact with the wall of the weekend, hitting the front left and side against the outside wall of Turn 1 about an hour into the lap. 75 minute session. The contact ended their participation in the practice.
The action heats up on Saturday
Saturday’s schedule begins with the weekend’s second NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice session at 10:00 a.m. (ET) followed by NTT P1 Award qualifying at 2:00 p.m.
On Sunday, a pre-race warm-up will be held at 10:55 a.m. with the Honda Indy Toronto broadcast live beginning at 3 p.m. The green flag is set for 3:30 p.m.
Sunday’s 85-lap race will be broadcast live exclusively in the United States on Peacock Premium, the first streaming-only race in NTT INDYCAR SERIES history. Peacock Premium is also hosting all series practice, qualifying session races – live and on-demand – this season. Sign up for the streaming service at https://www.peacocktv.com/sports.
In Canada, the race will be broadcast live on Sportsnet 360.
All sessions can be heard on the INDYCAR radio network, which includes the INDYCAR mobile app, network affiliates, SiriusXM 160 and racecontrol.indycar.com.
- Jimmie Johnson (#48 Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) had a relatively harmless spin in Turn 8, with a light hit to the right corner of the front fender.
- Helio Castroneves (Meyer Shank Racing’s #06 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda) pushed into the Turn 8 tire barrier after Scott Dixon (#9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) missed the corner and crashed through the second lap.
- Expect the pit lane to be crowded, which is usually the case for NTT INDYCAR SERIES races at the Exhibition Place circuit. There are 25 cars, the most for this pit lane configuration. Each team was allocated 35 feet.
- Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires is not hosting a race in Toronto this weekend. His next event is July 23 at Iowa Speedway.
- Exclusive Autosport’s Louis Foster continued his strong season, taking pole for Saturday’s Indy Pro 2000 race, the first part of the double weekend. He clocked 1:09.4139 to narrowly edge his Juncos Hollinger Racing teammates Enaam Ahmed and Reece Gold. The first race of the weekend for the series is at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday.
- USF2000 points leader Myles Rowe led a 1-2 qualifying effort for Pabst Racing, with teammate Jace Denmark 0.252 seconds off Rowe’s lap in 1:12.8169. Rowe leads the series with four race wins this season. The first race of the weekend is Saturday at noon (ET).