NTT IndyCar Series: Alex Palou could defend his title and become a 2x champion

Alex Palou

With eight races remaining in the HTT IndyCar Series season, the top of the leaderboard is exceptionally tight, with only 67 points separating first and fifth place in the current standings. This year’s championship is far from decided.

25-year-old Alex Palou drives the No.10 car for Chip Ganassi Racing, and the Spanish-born standout is the current defending champion after winning last season’s Indy title. Despite failing to finish in first place this season, Palou has been excellent on the track and is only a mere 35 points shy of topping the IndyCar standings.

How has the Spaniard accomplished such a positive hold within the standings? He’s finished in the top 5 on four occasions alongside seven top 10 finishes.

Most recently, he came close to breaking his 2022 trend of zero wins in Ohio on July 3, but Scott McLaughlin and the Chevrolet team stole the first-place finish. All was not lost; Palou took second and another 40 points to boost his title-defending season.

2022 Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio

It was an epic day of racing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and on route to scoring his second NTT IndyCar Series win of the season, Scott McLaughlin had the difficult task of battling against the current champ Palou.

Palou was never more than a second behind New Zealand native McLaughlin, as many expected the Spaniard to take the lead following a final caution on Lap 59. However, with one more opportunity to capture his first win of 2022, Palou couldn’t break through the smallest of margins and finished 0.5512 behind the Honda.

Bettors in support of McLaughlin cashed in big, as his pre-race outright winning odds were +1600. Palou was the fourth favorite in the pre-race odds at +650, but anybody holding those tickets would have suffered a loss by half a second.

Ohio sports betting odds expected Josef Newgarden to take it all at +350, but he finished in seventh and couldn’t extend his season lead of more first-place finishes from three to four.

McLaughlin’s third podium finish of 2022 and Palou’s fourth gave both drivers a chance to edge closer to the NTT IndyCar Series championship. Current number one, Marcus Ericsson, held his top position with a sixth-place finish, but he’s just 20 points clear of Will Power, who took third place to keep the title chase interesting. Newgarden, who finished seventh, is third on the leaderboard, 34 points behind Ericsson.

Palou raised his ranking to fourth and is now 35 points short of returning to the position he’s all too familiar with; first, that’s currently held by his teammate.

Palou to McLaren?

Alex Palou1

Alex Palou is hot property, and although he is yet to claim a win this season, he’s caught the attention of some rival IndyCar teams.

He’s recently been linked with a move to Arrow McLaren SP next year, as the F1-affiliated team wants to construct a championship-winning partnership.

When questioned about if the link to other teams is a distraction, Palou commented, “Not at all. When there’s people who want you for their projects, that’s good, right? So, I’m good with that.

I like it. As long as it doesn’t put it into the head of my people that are working on the car, I don’t care. So yeah, it’s good for me.

I never was in that position of people saying that they wanted me for their team, their project. So, first time in my life, I love it.

There are people that think it’s a bad thing. And I’m like, oh, man, that’s amazing.”

Palou supports his team and believes a level of professionalism will remain, despite the gossip and rumors of his potential exit from Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Obviously, when you win a championship, and you’re doing good stuff, I think it’s expected that there are people interested in you.”

“They’ve been in the business for long enough that they know. So as long as we keep doing what we’re doing, we’ll be alright. And they are all experienced people, it’s not like we’re having 18-year-old guys working on the car, and they suddenly listen to everything, so they know what they’re doing.”

“They know I always give my best. And I know they do it as well.”

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