Happy days are here again for Palou and Chip Ganassi Racing
The scene on Tuesday in Gasoline Alley was decidedly different than what was on display last year for Alex Palou.
Embroiled in a frosty legal battle with his Chip Ganassi Racing team, the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series champion arrived for August’s Brickyard event — the second Indy GP of the season — in a mess that turned ugly as his efforts to leave CGR for Arrow McLaren both backfired and isolated the Spaniard within the four-car program.
While waiting and hoping for Tuesday’s rain showers to abate, Palou could be found in the No. 10 Honda’s garage, chatting and laughing with his crew, which was reminiscent of the good times — before the fractures emerged in 2022 — when everything happened freely and easily within his side of the team.
“I would say ‘21 was amazing terms of relationships,” last weekend’s Indy GP winner told RACER. “Obviously last year went sideways. Didn’t want (it) to happen that way, but it’s the way everything went and it was obviously tough for everybody, not only for me, but also for the team. The crew had to hear questions about things and they didn’t know all the answers of what was going on.
“But now, I would say since beginning of the year, we’re back to where we were, just focused on racing and trying to be the best that we can be. And we’ve been doing that, I think — you can see how good they work on pit stops and how good we work on the track. Now we’ve just been relaxed, so it feels easier. Everything is back to being good.”
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Palou and the 10 team were firing on all cylinders at the Indy GP. Motorsport Images
From his vantage point, CGR teammate and team leader Scott Dixon sees similar things as the harmonious relationships that made the squad so strong prior to the Arrow McLaren-related controversy have been rediscovered. That being said, the six-time IndyCar champion also knows there’s an expiration date looming for Palou at CGR as his impending departure for the Zak Brown-led McLaren outfit will see a new driver step into the No. 10 entry for 2024.
“It’s as normal as it can be, right?” said Dixon, who recently signed a multi-year deal to stay with CGR. “You still know that, even at the start of the year, he’s not going to be here next year. A lot of times when you’re involved in scenarios like that, it’s much later in the year when people figure out that you’re moving on, so bringing good results help. Obviously, the win on Saturday was fantastic for Alex.
“Team morale has been very good. I think the team has had great cars this year, and I think the work and preparation has gone really well. So I’d say everybody is confident, especially coming into Indy, the 500 as well, for the past few years. And where we are now, I think everybody’s getting along really well.”