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Palou strategy “screwed” after believing he’d win Barber IndyCar race “by seconds”

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou was left to rue the timing of a yellow flag that ruined his fuel-saving strategy in the IndyCar Series race at Barber Motorsports Park.

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

The reigning champion started down in 10th place, after a mystifying slump in pace in the second round of qualifying on Saturday, but looked well set with a shot for victory after making his first pitstop under caution.

But he was then coerced into make the second of his two-stop strategy under another yellow, after Sting Ray Robb’s AJ Foyt Racing car lost its steering and crashed at Turn 1.

That came several laps earlier than he’d have preferred, which meant Palou had to go into extreme fuel-saving mode until the finish.

“It was a rollercoaster today,” Palou told NBC. “At points we thought we were gonna win it by seconds, then we were just screwed.

“It is what it is. It’s IndyCar, some days it falls your way, some days it doesn’t.”

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda pit stop

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda pit stop

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

His second stop meant the three-stopping Team Penske cars of Scott McLaughlin and Will Power were about to outpace him, and they were able to rejoin ahead of him after making their last stops.

His team-mate Linus Lundqvist and Meyer Shank Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist also demoted him to fifth by the chequered flag,

“It was frustrating, because I wanted to defend and I couldn’t because we had to save so much fuel that we couldn’t,” he added. “From 10th to fifth was a good day.

“Can’t wait for the month of May now.”

Palou’s consistent finishes over the first three races means he is third in points, just behind Andretti Global’s Colton Herta and Power.

On the opposite end of the strategy scale, rookie team-mate Lundqvist made the best of how the yellows fell to charge from 19th on the grid to finish third.

“I don't really like the expression, this is like a win for us, but I'm extremely happy with the podium," said Lundqvist. “You know, it's my first in IndyCar.

“It's been a little bit rough for me, the first couple of races and even struggled a little bit this weekend. But man, what can I say? The team did an amazing job.”

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