Spanish driver clinches podium finish on his 3rd Indycar race
LAKE, Wisconsin – With just 75 minutes worth of practice, Alex Palou mastered a
track some drivers can’t figure out in their entire career.
a 23-year-old NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie from Spain, started 14th and finished
third in Race 1 of the REV Group Grand Prix presented by AMR Doubleheader at
Palou joined Dale Coyne Racing Team Goh over the offseason, he arrived with an
impressive resume from Europe. He was known to be fast on the racetrack.
Road America, he also proved to be a fast learner with his first career podium
as an INDYCAR driver in just his third career start.
was an awesome race for us,” Palou said after the very long day that began with
a morning practice session at 11 a.m. Eastern time, followed by qualifications
at 2:15 p.m. and wrapping up with a 5:10 p.m. green flag to start the 55-lap
race. “It was a tough day today, my first time here at Road America. Having
free practice, qualifying and the race in one day was tough.
was hard starting 14th, but we were lucky today. We had a really strong car. I
could overtake some of the guys on the first two laps, and then I had the pace
to overtake when I had clean air. We lost some spots on the first two pit
stops, but the last pit stop, the guys were amazing, and I was P4 after that
was stunningly good on the restarts in the race, especially late in the contest
when he was running fourth when the green flag waved on Lap 45. Palou’s Honda
got a nice charge down the long frontstraight and passed Ryan Hunter-Reay’s
Honda for third place. But when Dalton Kellett went into the gravel trap in
Turn 14, it brought out another quick yellow flag.
race was restarted with eight laps to go, and Palou used the same daring move
to pass Hunter-Reay for third. He set his sights on Will Power’s No. 12 Verizon
Chevrolet in second place.
came close a few times in the battle for second, before finishing third for the
best finish of his young career.
overtook Ryan two times, so that was a really nice race for us,” Palou said.
“It’s the potential that I have. We knew at the beginning; the team was on it.
The problem was throwing me into a race having just 75 minutes of practice when
I have never been to the tracks, so it’s really tough to learn these tracks in
such a short period of practice time.
been really tough. We did P5 in free practice, but in qualifications I had a
mistake on pit lane and had to come again for a penalty. That is why we started
so far in the back.
P3 is going to be good for me and my confidence. I know the crew has a lot of
confidence for me and the team. The car was really strong.”
an old saying that goes, “He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.” That may be
the case with Palou, because he doesn’t know that rookies generally don’t
finish on the podium in their first race at the demanding 4.014-mile, 14-turn
Road America road course.
gets to do it again Sunday morning with qualifications beginning at 9 a.m. (ET,
NBC Sports Gold) followed by the race at noon (ET, NBC).
days later, Palou will hit the short oval for the first time in his career at
Iowa Speedway for another doubleheader beginning next Friday night and Saturday
going to be an interesting day Sunday, tough at Iowa, as well, but as soon as
we get to Mid-Ohio, we should be back to where we need to be,” Palou said.
is living up to his impressive resume, but with such limited practice and
testing because of COVID-19 and the ensuing shutdown, his “seat time” has been
limited. But after the first test session at Circuit of the America’s (COTA) in
February, he was confident the team had a fast car.
only thing he was missing was practice.
be honest, I thought if we had enough practices, we would be good leading into
Indy,” Palou said. “But the problem is we have no practices. This is my fifth
or sixth day in the car, and we can’t ask for miracles when I have 75 minutes
of practice. I have to learn the track and get the balance of the car the way I
don’t think we are there yet. Even with the really good result today, things
went really good for us. We are getting there. We are getting more comfortable;
we are getting quicker and hopefully we will be there soon.”
Courtesy of Bruce Martin/Indycar