Palou "on rails" at Laguna Seca, Ganassi-McLaren IndyCar dispute "moving in right direction"

Alex Palou says his Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar machinery was "on rails" at Laguna Seca after winning by over 30 seconds, and was non-committal where he would race in 2023.

Palou climbed from 11th on the grid, following an engine change grid penalty to defeat the charging off-strategy Josef Newgarden and 2022 IndyCar champion Will Power, beating them both by over half a minute.

“We knew it was going to be a tough race even before coming here this weekend because we tested here, and we kind of had good sessions, bad sessions during the weekend,” said the outgoing champion. “We ended up really good in the warm-up. Super happy with the car.

“With that engine penalty, we just knew it was going to be tougher, at least the first stint, but to be honest, our car was on rails today. We didn't struggle with tyre degradation like we did at Portland and the last couple of races.”

Asked if he thought this was the best car he’d had since he joined Ganassi at the start of 2021, Palou responded, “It was so tough to drive today and all weekend here at Laguna. The grip level from the tarmac is so low so you're fighting all the time, so it never feels like you have a good car even when you're leading by that much!

“But in comparison to others, obviously, yeah, it was the biggest margin that I ever got. It felt really good. I have to say strategy and all pit stops were really good, as well. It felt amazing. Hopefully it's not the last car that is as good as what we had today.”

Inevitably, Palou was quizzed about his future, since he signed a contract to join McLaren for next year, and is being sued by Ganassi, who is rumoured to have set his buyout clause at $10m.

“They're waiting to see what happens, as all of you guys,” he said.

“Fortunately I don't have anything to share. I think everything is moving in the right direction. I don't know if it's going to take one day, one week or one month, but hopefully everything is going to be solved soon.

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images

"I don't have anything to say clear, but everything is moving the right direction.

Asked how things are with Chip Ganassi at the moment, Palou responded, “We talk. We talked in Portland. We talked before that. You guys saw, I think, Nashville was it? We talked this morning, so...”

When asked if those chats were about 2023, he replied “Obviously” but added, “I wish I could tell you guys, ‘Hey, I'm doing this,’ but I don't have an answer yet. Maybe tomorrow.”

When it was pointed out that he finished 35 seconds ahead of the highest Arrow McLaren SP driver, Felix Rosenqvist, and it would surely be difficult to walk away from Ganassi, Palou grinned and replied: “We'll see what happens, but I wish I was 35 seconds ahead every race.

“I mean, last weekend in Portland, we finished 12th and everybody was overtaking me. It's IndyCar; it's not like every weekend you have the best car or the worst car, as we could see. Yeah, we'll see what happens.”

Palou said that he didn’t feel ‘cut loose’ from worrying about the championship since he came into the race out of contention for the title.

“I wish I had that pressure of fighting for the championship and points in my mind. I love that, I love that. I felt sad coming to this weekend. When I said that going to Portland we were going to have a chance, I really thought I had a chance, and that didn't happen.

“I was really sad. I wish that I couldn't sleep last night because I was thinking about points, but it was not like that this year, so yeah, we'll try again next year.”

shares
comments
Tapping into nerves helped Power clinch second IndyCar title
Previous article

Tapping into nerves helped Power clinch second IndyCar title

Next article

Palou stays with Ganassi in IndyCar for 2023, Rosenqvist remains at McLaren

Palou stays with Ganassi in IndyCar for 2023, Rosenqvist remains at McLaren
How Ericsson achieved Indy immortality as Ganassi's main man stumbled Plus

How Ericsson achieved Indy immortality as Ganassi's main man stumbled

Chip Ganassi Racing team was strong again in the Indianapolis 500, with poleman Scott Dixon and reigning champion Alex Palou leading almost three quarters of the race between them. But when dominator Dixon was penalised for pitlane speeding, ex-Formula 1 driver Marcus Ericsson stepped up to score the biggest win of his career and seize the IndyCar points lead

IndyCar
May 30, 2022
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Plus

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 21, 2021
How F1's other IndyCar exile finally unlocked his potential Plus

How F1's other IndyCar exile finally unlocked his potential

Romain Grosjean's swashbuckling rookie year in IndyCar captured the imagination of many in 2021. But another ex-Formula 1 driver whose potential was masked by five years of toil in, at best, middling machinery also enjoyed a breakout year in 2021 - winning twice and finishing sixth in points. Here's how Marcus Ericsson finally delivered on his promise

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
How Ganassi's relentless new champion outfoxed IndyCar's best Plus

How Ganassi's relentless new champion outfoxed IndyCar's best

IndyCar sophomore Alex Palou stunned by overcoming team-mate Scott Dixon and the rest of a white-hot field in 2021. He was consistently fast and crucially showed a level head, rebounding well from setbacks to put himself in a near unassailable position entering the final round

IndyCar
Nov 4, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Plus

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Despite appearing to have an IndyCar job for life with Meyer Shank Racing, Jack Harvey’s departure and move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate. However, Harvey's and RLL's combined strengths could prove to be a winning combination - if they get the balance right

IndyCar
Oct 17, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win Plus

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing IndyCar win

Saturday 16 October marks the 10th anniversary of Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Plus

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong junior career and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star Plus

Why IndyCar title glory is just the start for Ganassi's new star

Newly-crowned IndyCar champion Alex Palou has been lauded as a complete driver and veteran-like in only his second season. The 24-year-old is still in the early days of his career, but the parallels are there for all to see with his six-time champion Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate who has been CGR's team leader since 2014

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021