Monaco Increase Management driver Alex Palou crossed the finish line in third after a breathtaking finale to the PPG 375 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. This was Palou’s second point-zone finish in as many races this year and his first podium of the season, but the fresh 26-year old MIM driver from Catalunya could have hoped for a win until the very last stages of the 250-lap event. A final caution period caused by Romain Grosjean froze track positions when Palou was trailing both Josef Newgarden and Pato O’Ward in an epic battle in which drivers kept swapping positions to take advantage of slipstreams and save fuel.
Yet, Palou was all smiles as he climbed onto the rostrum. “This” he said “was the best oval race in my career so far, the first one in which I really felt that I could do what I wanted with the car. I knew that in would be difficult in the last laps because the other guys were on fresher tires, but we had a very good car and now I’m looking forward to the next race in Long Beach!”.
Indeed, Palou’s race was a masterpiece of fine driving and strategies, perfectly crafted by CGR’s race strategist for car #10, Barry Wanser. After taking P7 in Saturday’s qualifying session, Palou felt at ease ahead of the race and already in the first lap he made up one position after the rolling start and subsequently caught Rossi, Rosenqvist and Dixon on the momentum. Takuma Sato hit the wall on lap 48 and Alex pitted for tue and tires with a total pit-stop time of 6sec2, rejoining in the top group. He then battled with O’Ward and Newgarden, briefly taking the lead of the race before pacing himself.
On lap 150, he made a brave mode on Dixon by taking a high line for P4 and closed in on Grosjean, putting two wheels on the inside field grass in the process! With 70 laps to go, Rosenqvist hit the wall and Palou pitted for a quick refill of fuel. When the race restarted, the MIM driver was running third, but a daring move on the inside gave him back the lead at the expenses of O’Ward and Newgarden before Sint Ray Robb’s crash caused another caution period with 41 laps to go. Palou and his team decided to stay out this time, taking the pain of some fuel concerns in the last laps.
The final stage was a fantastic battle for the win with Palou constantly challenging Pato and Josef. Grosjean’s penultimate lap incident put an end to this epic battle, but with the final third place, Palou has reaffirmed himself as one of the most complete drivers in the Indycar series.