Alex Palou Fastest in GMR Grand Prix First Practice, Ilott Dazzles Once Again

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(Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski / Penske Entertainment / Courtesy of IndyCar)

The month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is now officially underway with the completion of the first practice session for the GMR Grand Prix, and championship leader Alex Palou sits atop the timing sheets much like he does the points standings.

After a red flag was displayed with under two minutes left for Helio Castroneves who spun in front of the pit entry in turn 13, some drivers elected to put on a fresh set of firestone tyres and squeeze in one more flying lap. Palou was one of them, and took the top spot right at the end.

It came at the expense of Callum Ilott and Juncos Hollinger Racing, however, who are already turning heads once again like they did at Barber Motorsports Park. Ilott bested some of the most dominant drivers at the IMS road course like Will Power and Simon Pagenaud, finishing second in the session.

“I think we learned a lot last weekend at Barber,” said car owner Ricardo Juncos. “We’re improving every time, every lap we’re improving ourselves, himself [Callum], the whole team, so obviously we’re very happy to be here and what we’re doing as well, it’s very challenging. [Callum] has some experience at the track from last year, we did a pre-season test before the last few races so, so far so good.”

Behind him sat Power, who was consistently one of the fastest this session, in third, and Graham Rahal in fourth who, like Palou, benefitted from fresh tyres at the end of the session.

Felix Rosenqvist continued the recent run of good form for Arrow McLaren SP by rounding out the top five. His teammate Pato O’Ward ran in the top ten for a portion of the session, but was bumped late and finished eleventh.

Marcus Ericsson finished sixth fastest, with Pagenaud seventh. The Frenchman is tied with Power for the most wins at the track, and this was some of the most promising pace we’ve seen from him during his time with Meyer Shank Racing. We know given Jack Harvey‘s success with MSR at the track that the team has pace, and Pagenaud is already showing that. Castroneves backed that up as well, finishing ninth fastest despite the spin.

Splitting the two MSR cars was, poetically enough, their former driver Harvey. Returning to the track he’s always performed best at, the British driver put together the eighth fastest lap of the session.

Rounding out the top ten was Colton Herta, the fastest of the Andretti Autosport cars.

This practice session could indicate a large departure from recent trends on the IMS road course. Chevrolet-powered cars have won six of the seven races here, while only three cars representing the bowtie finished in the top ten. Another trend is that of Team Penske‘s dominance, owning five wins at the track. While Power finished third fastest, both Josef Newgarden and Scott McLaughlin finished 16th and 17th respectively.

There is plenty of time for this to change, however, with the second practice session starting at 0930 PT / 1245 ET / 1645 GMT.

GMR Grand Prix First Practice Results

110Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi Racing01:10.4555
277Callum Ilott (R)GBRJuncos Hollinger Racing01:10.4593
312Will PowerAUSTeam Penske01:10.5277
415Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:10.6125
57Felix RosenqvistSWEArrow McLaren SP01:10.7108
68Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing01:10.7123
760Simon PagenaudFRAMeyer Shank Racing01:10.7459
845Jack HarveyGBRRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:10.7817
906Helio CastronevesBRAMeyer Shank Racing01:10.7911
1026Colton HertaUSAAndretti Autosport01:10.8352
115Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP01:10.8584
1228Romain GrosjeanFRAAndretti Autosport01:10.8597
139Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing01:10.8632
1430Christian Lundgaard (R)DENRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing01:10.8853
1527Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport01:10.8906
162Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske01:10.9343
173Scott McLaughlinNZLTeam Penske01:10.9543
1818David Malukas (R)USADale Coyne Racing w/ HMD Motorsports01:10.9703
1920Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing01:11.0008
2029Devlin DeFrancesco (R)CANAndretti Steinbrenner Autosport01:11.0064
2121Rinus VeeKayNEDEd Carpenter Racing01:11.0720
2251Takuma SatoJPNDale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing01:11.1887
2314Kyle Kirkwood (R)USAA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:11.5867
2448Jimmie JohnsonUSAChip Ganassi Racing01:11.6603
256Juan Pablo MontoyaCOLArrow McLaren SP01:12.0074
264Dalton KellettCANA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:12.2094
2711Tatiana Calderon (R)COLA.J. Foyt Enterprises01:12.4361
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