By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
In a feat that hasn’t been done since the 2008 merger, Alex Palou locked up the INDYCAR championship with a round remaining last Sunday at Portland.
With just four seasons under his belt, Palou has two championships in his young career with only an Indianapolis 500 victory alluding him. While he’ll have to wait until next May to see if his fifth 500 attempt is the one he wins big, all eyes are on his incredible title campaign as his win in Portland marked his fifth win of the season.
For Chip Ganassi Racing, Palou’s second title marked the team’s 15th American Open Wheel Racing championship, with four of those coming in the last six seasons.
Palou also joined an elite company of racers who’ve won multiple titles for Ganassi. Those men being Scott Dixon with six, Dario Franchitti with three, and Alex Zanardi winning both of his CART titles for Ganassi.
“It’s been an amazing season,” said Palou. “We just had fast cars everywhere, and we’ve been able to maximize our results even on the bad weekends, and to finish here at Portland with a win feels amazing.
“We have one race left that we won there last year, so feeling pretty confident. And obviously, clinching the championship makes you feel a little bit more relaxed obviously.”
Not bad company for the Spaniard who is leading several categories in 2023: Wins (5), poles (2), podiums (9), top-fives (12), top-10s (16) and laps completed (2161).
The last two being noteworthy as Palou’s worst result all season is eighth on two occasions and has completed all but two laps this entire championship trail.
Certainly, Palou’s second championship will be remembered for a long time as being a dominant campaign.
“The guys screwing the car together know what they’re doing,” said Ganassi. “The guys engineering the car to make it fast know what they’re doing. And the guys calling the strategy know what they’re doing.
“When you pair that with a driver that knows what he is doing, it’s a formidable combination that’s tough to beat. Even our own team, it’s tough to beat even within our own team. We have great guys on the team, and it’s tough for them to do.”
While many people like to gossip about the contract drama Palou has had for half of his INDYCAR career. Whether it’s the drama of leaving Ganassi after 2022 or speculations of Formula One being on his radar, Palou remained laser focus on the race…