Palou threatens to run away with IndyCar title after Detroit domination

The Spaniard is nearly a full race win clear of his IndyCar rivals after just seven races in 2023


You can really see why Zak Brown tried so hard to sign Alex Palou for his McLaren roster in 2023 after another dominant IndyCar win.

The Spaniard for Chip Ganassi Racing took a commanding pole and then soared away from the rest of the field on the new Detroit Grand Prix downtown circuit when the race began. It’s his first win on a street course in his IndyCar career and it really proves why McLaren tried so hard to sign him this year.

They and Ganassi ended up in a legal battle for his signature before he eventually remained with the Honda-powered team, which is proving to be a wise choice given his enormous lead in the standings.

“The No.10 Ridgeline Lubricants car was on point today,” Palou said. “Super proud of the job we did. It was tricky there at the end, man, with those [worn] tires couldn’t really get to temperature [on restarts].”

Brown does at least have Palou available as one of McLaren’s Formula 1 test drivers but he would dearly love to have him as a permanent racer for the Papaya stable because he is unbeatable on his day, and he’s having his day very often this season.

Will Power kept Palou honest all afternoon but the experienced Australian didn’t have that ultimate pace to challenge while Felix Rosenqvist scored his first podium of the year for McLaren after showing his teammate Alexander Rossi the wall at Turn 3.

Scott Dixon was able to follow the Swede through but Rossi was able to hold onto the top five in an overall positive day for the British manufacturer.

Kirkwood the comeback king

At the very start of the race, Kyle Kirkwood found the Juncos Hollinger car of Callum Ilott mounted on his rear end, breaking his rear wing in a big way. But the 27 team did not give in there, replacing the assembly and getting it back on track, and on the lead lap.

The American sneakily worked his way through the mid-pack and thanks to a later stop than everyone else at the end, he was able to get back into the top 10 and recover what could have been a disastrous day for Andretti Autosport.

Even on days where things don’t go his way, Kirkwood continues to impress and it’s not a bad way to rebound after his nasty crash in the Indy 500.

O’Ward shoots himself in the foot

Brown will have been watching this race extremely closely from across the pond and Pato O’Ward has not done himself any favours if he wanted another go at F1.

The Mexican looked quick but a small error in the pits saw one of his wheels not be secured properly. O’Ward lost a lap as a result and that seemed to light the touch paper and he soon crashed into the wall in a big way to end his race at the halfway stage.

He may be McLaren’s lead driver in IndyCar but it seems as if Brown has a preference for Palou when it comes to the F1 team and this race won’t be changing his mind at all.

O’Ward has all the speed and when his head’s screwed on right he can be a genuine superstar but there have been too many silly moments and mistakes in 2023 for his or Brown’s liking.

IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix 2023 Results

1Alex PalouChip Ganassi Racing100 Laps
2Will PowerTeam Penske+1.184
3Felix RosenqvistArrow McLaren+4.767
4Scott DixonChip Ganassi Racing+7.568
5Alexander RossiArrow McLaren+9.984
6Kyle KirkwoodAndretti Autosport+10.542
7Scott McLaughlinTeam Penske+10.935
8Marcus ArmstrongChip Ganassi Racing+11.679
9Marcus EricssonChip Ganassi Racing+13.081
10Josef NewgardenTeam Penske+14.022
Joe Ellis
Joe Ellis is a motorsport journalist with experience working in BTCC. He is the resident IndyCar correspondent for and a top class F1 writer.
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