09/13/2021 at 4:36 AM CEST
The Spanish pilot Alex Palou won this Sunday at the Portland Grand Prix, and recovered the NTT IndyCar Series leaderboard after having achieved his third victory of the season.
The win allowed Palou, who runs with the Chip Ganassi Racing team, beat Mexican Pato O’Ward to the top of the championship standings with two races remaining, those of Laguna Seca and Long Beach, to conclude the IndyCar season 2021.
Palou, who had won his first pole position of the season, in the Fastest Six classification, on Saturday, and who gave him another extra point, overtook American Alexander Rossi in the final stretch, which finished 1.2895 seconds behind the Spanish driver.
Veteran New Zealand rider Scott Dixon, English Jack Harvey and American Josef Newgarden occupied third, fourth and fifth places, respectively, which cost them also losing ground to Palou in the fight for the lead.
But the one who suffered the loss the most was O’Ward of the Arrow McLaren SP team, who finished 14th and now he is 25 points in second place with 452, by Palou’s 477, while Newgarden is third at 34 points (443).
As is tradition for Palou, second year in IndyCar competition, first with Chip Ganassi Racing, every time he achieves a victory his celebration is fried chicken dinner.
“We kept our heads down and we knew the race was very long,” Palou said. “I can’t believe it. We did it (with fuel). The guys did it. They just gave me the numbers and we followed them. The strategy was amazing“.
After starting from pole, Palou had to restart sixteenth after missing the first corner with the green flag and was one of several drivers (including his teammate Dixon) who were sent to the back after an incident at the first corner. Ganassi’s drivers disagreed with the penalty.
“I don’t know what IndyCar was thinking, you avoid an accident and they put you in the back,” Palou said at the end of the race. “But anyway, we got it.”
A victory that for the Spanish rider went much further since he gave the team all the confidence with the work they did and left behind the problems and bad luck of the previous two.
“I don’t really care about points right now,” Palou said.. “I think the race we did today was amazing. Not me, but the guys with the strategy, the pit stops with everything. We still won, so I’m proud of that.”
For his part, Dixon, Palou’s teammate, said: “The call to race control to get us all back was definitely interesting, but lo and behold, it worked for us. Huge congratulations to Alex, the team. Just a weird start to the day and grateful that it ended up working for us. “
The big loser was O’Ward went from a 10-point lead over Palou at the start of the weekend to a 25-point deficit after a tough race at Portland.
The Arrow McLaren SP driver led after a typical hand-to-hand combat on the first corner of the racetrack.
But O’Ward’s strategy was hampered by a yellow on lap 52, and his No. 5 Dallara-Chevrolet struggled to keep up afterwards, as the driver complained of a loss of power on the straights, something Palou would use to perfection after securing enough fuel reserve to make him the great winner of the weekend in Portland.