Palou on pole for IndyCar at Texas after qualifying canceled
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Alex Palou will start on the pole for the IndyCar Series’ first oval race of the season at Texas after qualifying was canceled Saturday because of overnight rain and morning mist.
The only scheduled practice session before the two races over consecutive days at the 1 1/2-mile, high-banked oval was pushed back nearly two hours while officials worked to dry the track under mostly overcast skies.
When practice started, IndyCar said qualifying was canceled and the field for Saturday night’s race would be set by championship entrant points.
The scheduled start of the race was also moved up about a half hour to 6:10 p.m. local (Central) time because the chances of rain were forecast to increase later Saturday evening.
Two-time Texas winner Will Power of Team Penske is also on the front row. Scott Dixon, Palou’s teammate with Chip Ganassi Racing, will start third. Dixon has won four times at Texas, including last June in the pandemic-delayed 2020 season opener without fans at the track.
Colton Herta, who won last week at St. Petersburg, Florida, starts fourth, ahead of Simon Pagenaud and Jack Harvey.
IndyCar is opening May with a planned 690 miles of racing in Texas on the third consecutive weekend of racing for the series.
The Saturday night race was set for 212 laps, or 318 miles. There is another 248-lap race (372 miles) scheduled late Sunday afternoon, when rain was forecast to be out of the area.
Tony Kanaan, who will have to start at the back of the 24-car field in his 2021 season debut, had the fastest lap in practice at 220.173 mph. Kanaan is driving the oval races in the No. 48 for Ganassi, the car that seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson is racing on road and street circuits.
Pato O’Ward had the second-fastest practice lap at 219.934 mph, just ahead of reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato’s lap of 219.868 mph.
Polesitter Palou was 11th in practice at 218.105 mph, and Power 16th at 216.560 mph.
Pietro Fittipaldi, the grandson of two-time F1 champion and two-time Indy 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi, was 24th on the speed chart during practice at 213.401 mph. This is the first IndyCar race since 2018 for the younger Fittipaldi, who is set to drive the four ovals for Dale Coyne Racing in the No. 51 car.
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