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IndyCar Power Rankings: Alex Palou first in many categories as series reaches Indy 500

Chip Ganassi Racing star Alex Palou puts the pedal to the metal, earning pole position at the 107th Indianapolis 500 in record-setting fashion and kicking off a big celebration with his team.

The biggest race of the IndyCar season is here, and the top-ranked driver in NBC Sports’ power rankings has big momentum on his side.

After opening a two-week residency at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a May 14 victory on the road course in the GMR Grand Prix, Alex Palou kept chugging along on the 2.5-mile oval last weekend. The Chip Ganassi Racing star broke the Indy 500 pole qualifying record with a four-lap average at 234.217 mph to capture the top starting spot.

It’s the first career oval pole position for the IndyCar points leader, who now can become the second driver to sweep the triple crown of major May awards at IMS (joining Simon Pagenaud in 2019).

Heading into the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, here’s NBC Sports’ IndyCar top 10 power rankings through five of 17 races this year (with previous ranking in parenthesis):

1. Alex Palou (1): Again, we ask: Are we sure he will leave Chip Ganassi Racing? He outdueled all four cars of the team he allegedly will join next season, and Chip has said he’s more than welcome to stay.

2. Pato O’Ward (5): There’s been a quiet confidence – and a touch of atypical seriousness – this month for O’Ward, who seems very determined to improve from second to first in this year’s Indy 500.

3. Alexander Rossi (9): His charge through the pack in the GMR Grand Prix was fun to watch, and his Fast Six appearance reminded that few IndyCar drivers are more comfortable being on edge at the Brickyard.

4. Marcus Ericsson (4): The Swede is holding steady during his Indy 500 title defense, but the uncertainty of where he will race next season likely will start taking a toll if unsettled by the summer.

5. Scott Dixon (8): Since a podium in the St. Pete season opener, the six-time series champion has had an average year by his standards but solid by anyone else’s. He’s always good at IMS, though.

6. Scott McLaughlin (3): Starting and finishing 16th at the GMR GP easily was his worst race this season. The budding Team Penske star says he’s ready to “just wheel it” in Indy.

7. Josef Newgarden (6): Finished six spots better than where he started on the road course, and his recent Brickyard struggles continued in Indy 500 qualifying. He seemed undaunted, though.

8. Will Power (7): An uncharacteristically mediocre result in the GMR Grand Prix, but he was the only Team Penske driver to qualify for the Fast 12 and seemed happy with his ride in Monday practice.

9. Felix Rosenqvist (NR): He nearly missed the Indy 500 grid photo, but that’s been the only time that Fro has lacked speed this season. Still needs some big results to shore up his Arrow McLaren future.

10. Romain Grosjean (2): The only Andretti Autosport driver to make the list during a disappointing Indy for the team, which might have to wait on the road and street course stretch ahead for its next big move.

Falling out: Christian Lundgaard (10)


PRESEASON: Josef Newgarden is a favorite to win third championship

RACE 1: Pato O’Ward to first; Newgarden drops out after St. Pete

RACE 2: O’Ward stays firmly on top of standings after Texas

RACE 3: Marcus Ericsson leads powerhouses at the top

RACE 4: Grosjean, Palou flex in bids for first victory