The countdown is no more…IndyCar is back and what a race to start the season with.
Can we just take a moment to appreciate Alex Palou’s absolutely brilliant drive? Following 90 laps at Barber Motorsports Park not enough praise can be given. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again, he is a force to be reckoned with, the future of the sport.
So, lets break down this win…
A chaotic crash on the first lap took out some of IndyCar’s favorites. The likes of Josef Newgarden and Colton Herta were no longer in contention and it seemed like pole sitter Pato O’Ward was going to run away with the win. Pit strategy, push-to-pass and yellow flags all stood in his way. The win slipped from his fingers.
With pitting restructuring the drivers consistently, third and fourth starters Palou and Will Power pulled through. In the final 20 laps Palou emerged as the favorite to win, the newest IndyCar race winner, but with over 100 seconds of push-to-pass remaining for second place Power and it seemed Palou’s hopes were fading.
Palou and Power soon caught up to the back of the pack, running first and second but behind Conor Daly…this is where it got interesting. This benefitted Power greatly as he began to pull closer and closer to Palou who was now caught in traffic.
In the final lap, my heart was in my throat.
As much as I want to say Daly could have yielded to Palou, that is not the nature of the sport. IndyCar is some of the purest racing on the planet and the ending would have not been as thrilling as it was if Palou pulled away and Power’s push-to-pass was pointless.
Palou held on to his lead, securing his first win in the series and in-turn his reputation on his brand new team.
A win to Power is not the same as a win for Palou. After one season in IndyCar Palou is now on arguably the most consistent, fierce and winningest team, Chip Ganassi Racing. He did what Felix Rosenqvist couldn’t, joined the likes of Michael Andretti and Dan Wheldon who won their first race for Chip Ganassi.
With racing back, I can’t wait to see what Palou does with the Ganassi machine for the rest of the season. Could he pull a series championship win over teammate Scott Dixon and seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson?