Alex Palou had a near-perfect weekend on IndyCar’s new downtown Detroit street course, winning from pole in the No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. But a tiny error on an upshift nearly brought his race undone.
Palou was preparing for a restart midway during the race when his car went into emergency mode, and while it cost him the lead when Team Penske’s Will Power dived past on the inside, the 2021 series champion said he felt fortunate it didn’t impact his race further.
“I haven’t spoken to the team yet, but I was trying to warm up the rear tires,” Palou said. “I upshifted into second when we were wheel-spinning. It got stuck in first. I got stuck. I couldn’t really shift.
“Before they told me, because I was already heading to Turn 2, I switched to emergency mode because that’s the only way to take all the issues out. It went well, but you lose a lot of performance upshifting. That’s why Will got us – exit of Turn 3 I got it back to normal, then it was all right. It was not something from Honda or the team. It was a driver issue.”
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Despite needing to navigate several late restarts while leading, Palou said that glitch spiked his heartrate more than any other point in the race.
“That was really a panic mode, because I didn’t really know what to do,” he said. “I didn’t know if it was going to work or not, because if you get stuck in one gear, you’re done. That was a pretty busy moment.”
Palou leaves Detroit with a 51-point lead over teammate Marcus Ericsson, with Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden — who came into the weekend off the back of his Indianapolis 500 win last week — a further 19 points behind in third.