Alex Palou rebounds for first career IndyCar pole in Portland Grand Prix qualifying

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Alex Palou rebounded from a two-race stumble in the NTT IndyCar Series, capturing the pole position for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Portland.

It’s the first career pole for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who outqualified Alexander Rossi (second) and teammate Scott Dixon (third).

“It feels amazing; I’m super happy my first pole in IndyCar,” Palou told NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast. “It’s the best start of the weekend we can have and the No. 10 car was really good so really happy about that. We know we have a really fast car and can not wait for tomorrow’s race.”

STARTING LINEUP: Where everyone will begin Sunday at Portland

GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND: All the details for watching Sunday’s race

Felix Rosenqvist (fourth), Graham Rahal (fifth) and Colton Herta (sixth) also reached the Fast Six third round of qualifying.

After being crashed in the prior race, Palou fell out of a points lead that once stretched to 42 points. The misfortune continued with a wreck of his No. 10 Dallara-Honda in a Saturday morning practice, but he rebounded to beat Rossi on his final run of qualifying.

“It obviously motivates us, but we were already fully motivated,” Palou said of consecutive DNFs at World Wide Technology Raceway and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course (where his engine failed). “We all know the last two race weekends we had were out of our team’s control. We’re fully laser-focused for these three races that we have to get that championship home.”

Palou and Dixon both are chasing new points leader Pato O’Ward, who qualified seventh Saturday.

“It’s not too bad; our pace on reds was horrendous,” O’Ward told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “We made a significant step forward this Q2. Unlucky that it wasn’t enough to go into the Fast Six, but we can do a lot from here. We’re starting inside of Row 4, and we just need to stay out of trouble from Turn 1 and do our race. It is what it is.

“The guys I’m fighting are in front of me, so I need to pass them.”

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Click here for Portland qualifying results | Round 1, Group 1 | Round 1, Group 2 Round 2 l Round 3

PRACTICE: Session I l Session II

Another title contender stunningly will start 11 spots behind O’Ward.

After turning the fifth-fastest lap in the Saturday morning practice, Newgarden was eliminated after the first round with the ninth-fastest time in Group 2. The Team Penske driver, who is 20 points behind O’Ward in pursuit of his third championship, will start 18th of 27 drivers.

“I don’t know; we just didn’t have any pace,” Newgarden told Lee. “Wasn’t a bad lap, just wasn’t fast. I don’t know. I’m not sure. We’ve got a lot of fight so we’ll fight back.

“I was really happy this morning. I’m not quite sure why we didn’t have the speed there, we just didn’t. We’ll battle tomorrow for sure. Definitely odd.”

Teammate Will Power also failed to advance from the first round as all four Penske drivers qualified outside the top 12.

O’Ward barely squeaked through the first round of qualifying, advancing by posting the sixth-fastest time of Group 1. Romain Grosjean was the first driver eliminated in seventh.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, who is in his final three races with Andretti Autosport, missed the qualifying session because of an electrical problems that allowed him to complete only 11 laps in practice. The team also changed an engine, which will drop Hunter-Reay to the 27th and last starting position.

Because of grid penalties for engine changes, Rinus VeeKay (25th) and Takuma Sato (26th) also will start from the rear.

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws
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The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)