Not even an accident on Saturday pre-qualifying session, which required a hasty repair work from the team, could stop Monaco Increase driver Alex Palou on his way to another victory in the Indycar series and to a dominant lead in the points standings. Palou’s victory at Road America is particularly significant for our management as it came off the back of Lirim Zendeli’s win in the USF Pro 2000 race only a few hours before. This means that MIM has two winning drivers on the same track on the same day-and that had already happened only two weeks ago with Pascal Wehrlein winning in the Indonesian e-prix weekend and Alex himself taking first in Detroit!
This is Palou’s seventh Indycar win and the third this year following those on the Indianapolis road course and in Detroit two weeks ago. The 26-years old from Sant Antoni Vilamajor thus extended his margin in the overall classification to 74 points (324 vs. 250) over runner-up and teammate Marcus Ericsson. Hardly any season of the North American racing league has seen such a dominance in recent years and Palou’s trademark consistency and race management are now coupled with exceptional speed, as the ultimate overtaking move on Colton Herta clearly showed today.
It’s quite uncommon to find all these characteristics embodied in a single driver and there’s no doubt that Palou could be competitive in any racing series given the level of maturity he has reached that allows him to learn from any mistake. Yet, the CGR driver keeps his feet firmly on the ground and looking ahead to the upcoming challenges says that “we need to keep pushing as this is a very competitive championship”.
As said before, Palou had a moment during Saturday’s free practice when his No.10 American Legion car slid off track and hit the barrier hard. “I was trying to find the limit”, Palou explained “and I lost control of the car, but the team did an amazing job to repair it with only one hour and a half before Qualifying”. And the car proved to be well repaired as Alex made it to the Top Six final session, scoring third best with a lap time of 1min40sec4930. This allowed him to charge already at the start of the 55-lap race, while second placed driver Pato O’Ward had a contact with another car. Palou was running a solid second behind Herta as he came to the pits on Lap 13 to fit another set of hard rubber, just before a caution period was called. Yet shortly after Palou went wide allowing Newgarden to sneak in. Once again, CGR did a superb job on the second round of pit-calls (Lap 27) sendind Alex back on track ahead of his main contenders. With the two leading drivers on a different fuel strategy, Palou came under attack from Herta again on Lap 30 and the Andretti driver came through for the lead. But Palou never lost contact and after the third and final pit-stop on Lap 41, he started to attack with ten laps to go and three laps later he chased Herta all the way down the main straight and passed him under braking at Turn 1. From then, while Herta seemed to be losing pace, Palou was able to extend his lead till the chequered flag.
“It was an amazing weekend”, Palou commented. “We started with a very good speed but unfortunately there was that accident on Saturday and there was only an hour and a half to rebuild the car but the guys were able to do a fantastic job with the No.10 American Legion car. Colton was really quick and I thought it would be hard to catch him but I saw that he seemed to have difficulties with temperature so I kept pressure on him. We made it and today we’re first. But as I said, I feel zero per cent that I have the championship already in my hands. We’ll have to fight race after race and keep it rolling!”.