Alex Palou celebrated his move to Chip Ganassi Racing with his first career IndyCar victory by beating a pair of series champions to win Sunday’s season-opening race at Barber Motorsports Park.
The Spaniard used a two-stop strategy on the picturesque permanent road course to take control of the race but still had to hold off hard-charging Will Power and Scott Dixon over the closing laps. The 24-year-old beat Power by .4016 seconds to claim his first win in his first race driving for the storied Ganassi organization.
“We knew (a win) was possible because we knew we had the best team and the best cars,” Palou said. “It’s amazing to be part of the winning drivers.”
Dixon, the six-time and reigning IndyCar champion, finished third and was followed by pole-sitter Pato O’Ward, who was on a three-stop strategy.
Palou was the quieter offseason signing of the Ganassi organization, which also added seven-time nascar” target=”_blank”>NASCAR<
Rosenqvist, who briefly went airborne, also crashed in practice and had his qualifying lap disqualified, but was able to get his car back on track. Herta, Newgarden and Hunter-Reay were done without completing a single lap.
“I got loose coming over the hill and then touched the grass. I think once I touched the grass I’m basically sideways,” said Newgarden, the two-time series champion who was runner-up last season. “I feel really bad for anyone who got involved in that. Obviously my mess created a bigger mess, so any of the cars that got involved I’m really sorry because it was us that tipped it off.”
Herta, who crashed during Saturday practice, wasn’t concerned about the hit he’d take in the championship fight.
“This sucks, man, and I’m ready to get out of here,” Herta said. “It’s such a competitive year and guys are going to have bad races and guys aren’t going to do well everywhere. It obviously sucks for us because now we’re on the back foot but we have plenty of races left to get back in it.”
IndyCar races next Sunday on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, which is typically the season opener. It was the season finale last year and won by Newgarden.