Alex Palou has been virtually on the brink of the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series title for what seems like forever but he finally got the job done in Portland.
In typical Palou fashion, the Spaniard went long on his first stint to ensure clear air at the front and as soon as he got there, he turned up the wick and nobody could stay close. Scott Dixon needed to outscore his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate significantly to keep the title race alive but he couldn’t beat him despite his best efforts.
An utterly dominant display came at just the right time for Palou who may still have his eyes on a seat in Formula 1 for 2024 as the remaining drives start to dwindle in the World Championship.
“That’s what we wanted,” Palou said to NBC. “It was an amazing weekend and we just raced as we have done all season. I never thought I’d be an IndyCar champion so to be a two-time champion is like a dream.”
Dixon came home third in another very strong showing late in the season but the points gap was always too big for him to close down as the races left became thin. He would have been second had a caution not been held off to allow Felix Rosenqvist to pit late in the race.
The Swede benefitted from not having to do his out lap on cold tyres to finish second in his best race of the year for Arrow McLaren as the only true challenger to the Ganassi duo for much of the race.
Ganassi already have Linus Lundqvist replacing Marcus Ericsson for 2024 but they really cannot afford to lose Palou to F1 now that his McLaren future seems to be in the dumpster.
IndyCar has not seen a driver this dominant over the course of an entire season for well over a decade and it’s no surprise that F1 teams are seriously considering him for 2024. The likes of AlphaTauri and Williams are perhaps his last chances back in Europe but is that move really worth it when he can become a great in North America?
You seriously have to ask whether he would prefer trundling around at the back of the F1 field or winning races and possibly the Indianapolis 500. The move to F1 would only be worth it if an obvious path to a podium-potential car was in the near future for him.
Dixon is going nowhere, Marcus Armstrong looks to be improving with every race and Lundqvist has impressed on the rare occasion he has been given. But they need another top driver to maintain the pressure on Team Penske whether that be from another IndyCar team or elsewhere.
|1||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|2||Felix Rosenqvist||Arrow McLaren|
|3||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|4||Pato O’Ward||Arrow McLaren|
|5||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske|
|6||Rinus VeeKay||Ed Carpenter Racing|
|7||Marcus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|8||David Malukas||Dale Coyne Racing|
|9||Scott McLaughlin||Team Penske|
|10||Kyle Kirkwood||Andretti Autosport|