MIM driver Alex Palou increased his championship tally by another 30 points by taking fifth place finish in the Children’s Alabama Indycar Grand Prix today at Barber Motorsports Park. This result confirms 26-year old Palou as one of the most consistent drivers in the series and allows him to maintain third place in the overall classification, but also leaves a bittersweet taste in Alex’s mouth, because he had started from the first row in the 90-laps event and was battling Grosjean for the lead before a lengthy pit-call pushed him back behind Pato O’Ward. Palou’s CGR team had opted for a two-stop strategy – which implied a fair deal of fuel saving tactics – whereas winning driver Scott McLaughlin, by comparison, could charge through the field by virtue of a faster three-stopper strategy.
“Yeah, obviously not the best call” Palou said right after the race “but it was what we thought to be best with the pace we had. So, I’m quite happy with fifth, but starting from the first row I feel it could have been better. Anyway, today there were better teams and strategies on track”.
When the green flag was waved, Palou – who was on softer compound for the first stint – found himself battling with O’Ward for second place, eventually having the upper hand. His first pit road call on lap 30, though, cost him quite some time and other driver could take advantage of a caution period which followed immediately when Sting Ray Robb’s car was stuck trackside. Palou’s #10 green car rejoined the battle in 9th position, then climbed up to fourth as other cars served their pit call, but at the restart on lap 42 Palou, on cold hard tires and on a conservative strategy, had to let Lundgaard through. The Spaniard’s second stop came on lap 62 and once again he came back out behind O’Ward. In the end, the Monaco Increase managed driver was able to put pressure on his Mexican opponent but the flowing nature of the track made it difficult for him to find a way through.
Before moving to Alabama, Palou had taken part in a collective test (curtailed by bad weather) on the Indianapolis 2.5 oval and the Speedway facility be home to the Indycar drivers in the month of May, first with the GMR Grand Prix on the inner road course in two weeks’ time and finally with the legendary 500 on May, 28th.