Alex Palou admits finishing second in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 ‘hurts’, with the Spaniard believing he had the fastest car on track at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The young Spaniard was involved in a great battle with eventual race winner Helio Castroneves, with Palou leading thirty-five laps of the legendary event, the second most of any driver behind Ed Carpenter Racing’s Conor Daly.
Unfortunately for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver, he was passed for the lead on the penultimate lap of the race and was unable to get close enough to the Meyer Shank Racing driver before the chequered flag.
“When it hurts, it’s good because you know there’s something better,” said Palou on IndyCar.com. “When you win, it’s the most satisfying thing. When you lose, for me, c’mon, we finished second in my second Indy 500.
“It just hurts a little bit. Helio wanted it, as well. I think all the 33 drivers wanted the same. I’m happy. I’m living the dream, man. I’m able to drive the fastest car for the best team in the Indianapolis 500 and fight for it. Everything was good today.”
Palou said he did everything he could to catch Castroneves on that final lap on Sunday, but traffic ahead gave the veteran Brazilian a tow that prevented the Spaniard from getting close enough to make a pass for the lead.
“I was doing everything to catch him,” said the Spaniard. “I think my car was really good out of Turn 2, so I knew I had the really good shot for Turns 2 and 3.
“I was trying to prepare a bit. But the thing is, he was getting the tow from the traffic cars. He was not losing speed against me on the straight line.
“That’s all I could do. I think I gave it everything. I even had a moment in Turn 4 where I almost went to the wall because I was trying too hard. Yeah, these things happen. He was better today.”
After retiring from his first Indianapolis 500 in 2020, Palou says his 2021 performance was a lot better than it was a year ago, and he continues to learn how to drive and race on ovals having not experienced them prior to joining the NTT IndyCar Series at the beginning of last season with Dale Coyne Racing.
“For sure, I’m better than last year,” Palou said. “I’m super proud that we are doing well on ovals because I had no experience before. I’m feeling good.
“I don’t think we’re doing any crazy moves or anything like that. We’re just learning lap by lap and having fun. But there’s a long way to go to reach these guys.”
With his second-place finish, Palou returns to the head of the Championship standings heading to the double-header weekend around the streets of Detroit in two weeks time.