Palou working championship formula once more

He’s doing it again. Leaving last year’s Indianapolis 500 on the way to the Detroit Grand Prix, Alex Palou led the championship, held a 20-point margin over a Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, and had an average finishing position of 4.3. Departing Indy for downtown Detroit this year, Palou’s leading the championship, has a 20-point margin over a Ganassi teammate — Scott Dixon — and has improved his average finishing position to a gaudy 3.6. If you include the non-points event at The Thermal Club he won, it’s actually 3.16.

Palou used his mercurial speed and consistency in 2023 to capture his second IndyCar crown, and with every finish so far this season being a fifth place or better, the Spaniard is working his title-winning formula to perfection once more in the early portion of the 2024 championship.

And now Palou arrives in Detroit, where he kicked off a three-in-a-row victory streak last year and controlled the points all summer on the way to sealing the title with one race left to run.


“It’s been an amazing start of the year, even without counting Thermal,” Palou told RACER. “Getting our first pole, doing the pole and win on the Indy road course; I feel like every race weekend, we’ve been up front, fighting for the win. We’ve not been on the podium every race, but we’ve always had fast cars. So I’m really happy.

“I’m looking forward to the next couple of weeks where we will do like half of a championship in two months. But it’s exciting. Even though we didn’t win the Indy 500, I’m pretty happy. We started the month of May lacking some speed overall and some confidence on race trim, and we ended up fighting quite a lot. We didn’t ultimately have the best package to win the race, but P5 was a really good result for us.”

Palou’s No. 10 didn’t quite have the outright speed to contend for the win at the Indy 500, but as usual he maximized its potential and added to his growing confidence on ovals. Jake Galstadt/Motorsport Images

Plenty could go wrong for the 27-year-old before the championship is completed, but if anything like his current form is maintained through the closer on the Nashville Speedway in September, Palou could become a three-time champion in a span of five years.

His prowess on road and street courses is well known, and he’s also become one of the best performers at the Indianapolis 500, but if Palou’s going to make his life easy while chasing his latest championship, breaking through with an oval victory or two would be a big help.

Of the 12 races left to run, six are on ovals where his teammate Dixon and arch title rivals Josef Newgarden, Will Power and Scott McLaughlin all excel.

“Everybody knows I’m a bit stronger on roads, and getting better at street courses, but I cannot wait to win an oval race,” Palou said. “I’m liking it. I’m enjoying it. It’s not like I go there and I’m like, ‘Here we go…again…I don’t like this.’ No, I enjoy it. It’s that I need more experience and I need to know how to win it. We’ve finished second at Indy, finished third at Texas, finished third at Iowa. We’ve been there but just not good enough.

“I need to win an oval race. We’ve been lucky enough to win two championships without winning in an oval, but we need we need to win there. When I saw the calendar change with all these ovals later in the season, I was not a fan, but I think last year, I made a big step on ovals. This year, my offseason was focused on improving my oval skills. And I think I can be up there to fight. I’m excited for Iowa, honestly, like I want to go there. We will test there before the race — hopefully I can work on myself more than the car. I’m excited to try and win and I think this year, it is coming. I don’t know where or when. But I think it’s coming.”

This story has been updated with the correct point margin of 20 points between Palou and Dixon.

Story originally appeared on Racer