INDIANAPOLIS – A win in the GMR Grand Prix certainly provides some energy, but it was already a rewarding few days for Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou well before celebrating that victory.
That something will only grow stronger as the days go by and the Indianapolis 500 creeps closer.
“(Indianapolis Motor Speedway is) a special place,” he says. “You can feel that in the garages with the fans we had already since practice one. There’s something about this place, obviously.”
“It’s a different beast; it’s just different,” explains Arrow McLaren driver Pato O’Ward, who finished second in the Grand Prix as well as in last year’s 500. “We’re not really gonna know what we’ve got up until we put all the fast bits on the car and see where we stack up.”
Only a select few have stacked up well enough to drink the milk at the end of the month of May. Alexander Rossi is one of them, champion in 2016, and he is now buoyed by his podium finish in the Grand Prix as well as the overall success of his Arrow McLaren team in the race, placing all three drivers in the top five.
“In terms of the confidence of Arrow McLaren, Team Chevy, and everyone involved in the success of today,” Rossi says, “it’s a really nice way to get things started and get rolling into practice on Tuesday.”
Tuesday will be the first of six days reserved for 500 practice, plus two more for qualifying. It may seem like a lot of time, but veterans know it ticks away rather quickly.
“Honestly, we just try to do small work each day,” details Palou. “(We) try to get our targets, then race day suddenly is there.”
And on race day, finally a month of buildup culminates in The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
“I’m just so excited to see what we can do,” says O’Ward. “We’ve continuously put ourselves into good positions there the past few years, and I think, you know, I can do it for all of us on the 5 stand.”
“You need a perfect, perfect day,” adds Palou. “Having a good day is not enough here.”
An ever-present quest for perfection begins, as all IndyCar eyes are focused on that goal.