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IndyCar Detroit

Palou: “Crazy” Detroit track is too tight, too short for IndyCars

Detroit Grand Prix polewinner Alex Palou thinks the new street course in Motor City’s downtown area is “crazy” and too tight and short for IndyCars.

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Palou earned his second straight pole for Chip Ganassi Racing, following on from the Indianapolis 500, on the new street track that’s been constructed by Penske Entertainment Corp around the GM headquarters at the city’s Renaissance Center.

Although it’s his first IndyCar pole on a street course, he immediately spoke out about how its nine-turn layout is too short and twisty for America’s premier open-wheel class.

“I went off a lot in practice, I wanted to find where the limit was and we found it,” he said. “It’s a crazy track.

“I agree with most of the other drivers, it’s too tight for IndyCars, it’s too short for IndyCars. There’s too much traffic, it’s too bumpy. And I’m the happiest driver, starting on pole, so I cannot complain too much.

“I just race wherever they tell me, I’m happy with that, and they’re not going to ask me but obviously I can complain a little. If it was up to me, it would be a longer lap with wider turns, I mean Turn 1 is really tight.

“We also struggle with how tight the run-off areas are and spinning the cars, but it’s the same for everybody. So I guess the trick is to not go down there.”

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda takes to the escape road

Colton Herta, Andretti Autosport w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda takes to the escape road

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

The track is the shortest street course on the IndyCar schedule, ahead of St Petersburg’s 1.8-mile layout in Florida.

“If we’re doing 62-second laps with 27 cars, it’s like a 2.4-second gap for each car, and everyone wants a 5-second gap,” he explained. “So you end up having lots of traffic as we saw in practice two. I don’t know what the perfect [track] distance is but I would say adding 20s or 30s to the track would help a lot.

“We have a lot of cars, which is amazing, and it’s really good for the series and the racing, but when it comes to practice, we have 10 red flags and 25 yellows, and traffic all the time. If we could have normal laps, without traffic, then we could practice properly.”

Palou admits it could be a chaotic race on Sunday, and pointed out how the Indy NXT support series poleman was taken out on the run to the first corner in today’s opening race.

“The guy starting on pole ended up on the fence on the braking zone,” he said. “It’s going to be tough, we’re starting up front but we don’t know what the tyre deg is going to be.

“Starting on pole gives you some margin on that, but nobody knows – there could be a lot of yellows or there could be none.”

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