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Palou “not very pleased” by mysterious pace slump in Barber IndyCar qualifying

Alex Palou was the fastest man on track in IndyCar qualifying at Barber Motorsports Park but will start only 10th after his speed vanished in the second round of qualifying.

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Chip Ganassi Racing’s reigning champion Palou set the pace overall in the first round of qualifying, lapping in the day’s quickest time of 1m05.5862s on fresh alternate tyres.

But then his speed vanished in the second round, when the top 12 cars from the two groups run together.

Palou lapped in 1m06.8819s on primary tyres on his first Top 12 Qualifying run, but only improved to 1m06.3013s on his next set of alternates.

“We felt really good after Q1 honestly,” he told NBC Peacock. “It was a bit of a shame that we lost something like eight tenths in the Top 12. Not very pleased with that.

“Starting P10, we can do a lot with a fast car, but I have a bit of work to do tonight.”

When asked about the strategy options available to him, he replied: “We saw the last three or four seasons here there’s been people on the podium with either two or three stops, we don’t know if the alternates are going to last or not, but it’s going to be an exciting race for sure.”

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Three-time Barber winner Josef Newgarden will start a row ahead of him for Team Penske, after admitting to errors on his Q2 lap.

“I didn’t do a very good job,” he admitted. “We’re going to roll off eighth.

“We’ve got a good car this weekend, wish I coulda gotten a bit more out of it there. But I’m ready to rock.”

Long Beach winner and points leader Scott Dixon (CGR) qualified 13th for his worst starting spot of the season.

“I thought we were going to be OK,” he said of progressing from Q1. “Came up a little short by about a tenth.

“Maybe under-drove it a little bit, so it’s frustrating to just miss [transferring to Q2] but as a group we’ve been a little off this weekend.

Marcus Ericsson, Andretti Global Honda

Marcus Ericsson, Andretti Global Honda

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Two of Andretti Global’s stars fared even worse, however, with Colton Herta starting 15th, three spots ahead of Marcus Ericsson.

“It felt OK, pretty good to drive, but we’re lacking a lot of speed,” said Ericsson. “It feels like we’re just lacking grip.

“The balance is in the ballpark but we don’t have grip because it’s not like we’re missing a tenth or so, we’re missing a lot to the fastest guys. We have to dig into the data to understand what’s going on.”

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