Palou wrapped up the 2021 IndyCar title with fourth place at the final round at Long Beach, which noticed him safe the crown 38 factors forward of two-time champion Josef Newgarden.
Having solely stepped as much as IndyCar final season with Dale Coyne Racing, after catching the attention ending in third place within the Tremendous System drivers’ championship in 2019, Palou made an immediate impression on the Chip Ganassi Racing crew over the winter making ready for his beautiful title cost.
“It is as large because it will get,” stated Ganassi, who has seen Palou accrue three wins and 5 different podiums in his first 12 months on the squad. “It has been just a few dry years within the #10 automobile. I’m going again and consider Dario [Franchitti] and Dan Wheldon within the #10, all of the successes they’d. Sadly for one cause or one other, we’ve not discovered that proper mixture for just a few years.
“Championships are gained by loads of laborious work, by lots of people making loads of sacrifices that are not apparent to the bare eye or get misplaced they usually by no means get the press or the protection of the late nights over the winter in Indianapolis, chilly and darkish and blowing snow. Guys are in there toiling away on their computer systems or on their vehicles, making them just a bit higher, preparing for the beginning of the season or preparing for the Indianapolis 500. That is the place the championships are gained.
“There’s a complete slew of individuals again in Indianapolis that I am positive proper now have a giant smile on their face. They’re in our race store, members of the family that are not in a position to be right here with their spouses, boyfriends or girlfriends. It is a pleasure to symbolize these folks. So that is what makes this championship particular.”
Champion Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Picture by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images
Ganassi recalled Palou’s first check with crew at Barber Motorsports Park, on the finish of his rookie season spent at Dale Coyne Racing, through which he scored a single podium.
“All 4 vehicles have been there, and he ended up quickest,” stated Ganassi. “We have been like, ‘Jeez’. However we have been attempting loads of issues. You by no means actually know at a check on a specific day, time of the day, tyres, no matter – you all the time discover some rationalisation for why a man was quick or wasn’t quick. We sort of simply took it with a grain of salt.
“Then after all we present up for the race, he was quickest in observe. We stated, ‘OK, nice, that is good, however we now have qualifying, a race, loads of expertise across the paddock.’ Then he was, after all, quickest [of the Ganassi cars] in qualifying, then gained the race. He had Will Energy and Scott Dixon respiration down his neck the entire day. He confirmed there that he might stand the stress. He might win. He did not put a wheel flawed all day.
“You form of construct on that. You go from there. However, yeah, early on within the season, you simply do not know if a younger man like that has endurance all season or does he get drained in June or July or one thing!
“I’ve all the time stated that driving IndyCars – the precise driving half isn’t laborious, the journey isn’t too laborious, the testing isn’t unhealthy, the sponsorship work round our crew isn’t laborious. However for some cause whenever you put all of it collectively, it is laborious. He was in a position to put all that collectively and nonetheless have extra in his tank.”
Ganassi additionally acknowledged the significance of Palou’s 12 months in Tremendous System, through which he was Rookie of the 12 months however was just one mechanical DNF away from profitable the title.
“Clearly his apprentice programme into racing most just lately was in Japan,” stated Ganassi. “I feel he brings loads of that sort of Japanese mentality to the crew, which loads of us discover refreshing. Being a Honda crew and being with them for a few years, many wins, he introduced a sure fortitude I might say that you simply see in that a part of the world.
“With that I feel he is acquired some good administration round him. We have been approached by a pal of our crew and a pal of his, a man named Roger Yasukawa who stated, ‘You bought to try this child’. We stated, ‘Certain, prepare a gathering or one thing. That is the way it actually acquired began.’”
Champion Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda
Picture by: Geoff Miller / Motorsport Images
Requested if Palou reminded him of any of the crew’s alumni, Ganassi stated: “He is so much like Dixon. Form of not loads of baggage. Simply focuses. Yeah, so much like Dixon.”
Ganassi additionally agreed that one in all Palou’s standout moments was his bounce again from a crash throughout observe at Indy.
“Whenever you hit the wall at 215[mph] or no matter, 220 at Indy, you are not shocked when a man goes up the following day and goes about 210 after operating 220, 225, no matter. That may sluggish you down a bit of bit. I used to be actually shocked that it did not have an effect on him a lot. We have been all fairly bowled over. He was proper again to hurry when he acquired within the automobile. That shocked us so much.”