Alex Palou has established himself as Monaco Increase Management’s polished diamond. The 26-years old from Sant Antoni Vilamajor stormed to his third win in a row in the 2023 Indycar championship by dominating Sunday’s race at Mid-Ohio Sportscars course in the ninth round of the season. This is Palou’s fourth win this year and his eight overall in the Indycar series. With eight races to go in the calendar, the CGR and MIM driver has extended his lead in the series to a stunning 110 points over runner-up and team mate Scott Dixon (377 vs 207) while Josef Newgarden runs third and 116 points down to Palou. Once again, consistency proved to be pivotal to the current success of Palou, who bar for the first race in St.Pete has always finished the other races in the top 5. Palou’s winning streak was also bolstered by the fact that his main title contenders had a particularly bad day, with Pato O’Ward having to start from the back following an accident in qualifying and Marcus Ericsson being put out of the race almost immediately by a collision with Felix Rosenqvist.
Much of the credit also goes to Ganassi’s race strategist Barry Wanser as the MIM driver built up his dominance already on Saturday. Having qualified fourth on the grid of the 80-lap race, Palou felt confident that he could have a very good result by starting on harder compound (primary) tires and extending his first pit-stop so that he could take on less fuel and save time in the pit road. The downside of this tactics implied running more than 20 laps on the second stint with the softer rubber, but Palou knew he could make it stick thanks to accurate tire management.
The strategy worked perfectly: after Palou had cleared Kyle Kirkwood for third with a daring move on the outside on lap 4 (Kirkwood’s car span in the process but camera views show no real contact), he went on to serve his first pit call at the beginning of lap 30, one lap after Rahal and two laps later than Colton Herta. The No.10 American Legion car thus came out of the pits as the virtual leader of the race and Palou did not let go of his dominance for the remainder of the race on the 3.534, 13-turn course, despite having to run a lengthy period behind backmarker Benjamin Petersen (blue flags not being the order of the day in the American series).
Palou finally got rid of Petersen on Lap 48 without having to deplete his available push-to-pass seconds supply. He then stopped again six laps later for a fresh set of tires. At that moment, he was running unchallenged with a more than comfortable margin over second-place Dixon. As the No.10 car rolled past the chequered flag and into the victory lane, a huge crowd cheered the success of a driver who is making history in the North American single-seater racing series.
“We knew that we needed to try something different to the guys in front of us, so we started on the uard tire and the strategy worked perfectly. We had a very fast car today and that’s the key”.
Insiders are starting to openly talk about Palou’s ‘dominance’ but the MIM driver still favors a low-key approach: “Maybe we’re starting a little bit but as you can see, it’s always very tight. It’s about getting everything together and we managed it quite a few times this year. Hopefully we can keep it going but as you see, we’re not being the fastest in all practice and qualifying sessions, only in the race”.
Asked whether he had already had enjoyed a similar positive run anytime in his career, Palou joked that “Yeah, maybe it happened sometimes driving on a simulator… No, seriously” he concluded “this is the best moment in my career so far”. And at Monaco Increase Management, everyone’s happy to be able to share this moment with Alex Palou.