Alex Palou became the first Spaniard to win the NTT IndyCar Series title on Sunday with a fourth-place finish in the Grand Prix of Long Beach, with the twenty-four-year-old following in the footsteps of some legendary names to take the crown for Chip Ganassi Racing.
The quintet of Jimmy Vasser, Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon have secured thirteen Drivers’ titles between them, and Palou’s triumph in 2021 makes it fourteen for Chip Ganassi Racing.
Palou made the surprise switch to Ganassi from Dale Coyne Racing for his sophomore season in IndyCar, and he did not disappoint in the #10 car, winning three races and finishing a close second to Helio Castroneves in the Indianapolis 500.
And Palou is already looking to the future and securing another championship for the team in 2022 as well as going one better at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway next May.
“What a race, what a year, what a season,” said Palou on Indycar.com. “This team is amazing. I’m super proud to be a part of Chip Ganassi Racing, all our partners. I’m super proud to be a champion and for the opportunity these guys gave me.
“There were moments where I was just feeling like I was living my dream, and now I’m doing it,” he added on apnews.com. “Oh yeah, 100% dream completed. Let’s get another one now.
“Chip told me when I joined that I had to win a championship, so that’s not too much pressure. He likes winners. If you are not one, you are in trouble.”
“He didn’t turn a wheel wrong all year” – Chip Ganassi
Palou moved to IndyCar after spending a year racing in the Japanese-based Super Formula series, and Chip Ganassi says the Spaniard brought some of the Japanese mentality to the team in 2021.
Ganassi says Palou did not put a wheel wrong all year and could have had an even easier final race of the year had mechanical issues and crashes out of his control did not affect the second half of the season.
“His apprentice program into racing most recently was in Japan, so I think he brings a lot of that Japanese mentality to the team, which a lot of us find refreshing,” said Ganassi on apnews.com. “He brought a certain fortitude that you see in that part of the world. And you know, he didn’t turn a wheel wrong all year.
“Ladies and gentlemen, you’re seeing a young man that’s going to set a lot of records in this business, and he’s already starting,” Ganassi said on Indycar.com. “What a great year we’ve had.
“I’ve got to be honest with you: It has surprised us when he came in the door and the job he’s done. My hat’s off. Congratulations.”