Palou elated by win, non-committal over Ganassi-McLaren dispute

Alex Palou delivered one of the most convincing wins of the season in what could be his final race for Chip Ganassi Racing, but wouldn’t give away who he expects to race for in 2023.

Palou climbed from 11th on the grid at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, following an engine change grid penalty to defeat the charging off-strategy Josef Newgarden, and 2022 IndyCar champion Will Power, beating them both by over half a minute.

“We knew it was going to be a tough race even before coming here this weekend because we tested here, and we kind of had good sessions, bad sessions during the weekend,” said the outgoing champion. “We ended up really good in the warm-up. Super happy with the car.

“And then yeah, with that engine penalty, we just knew it was going to be tougher, at least the first stint, but to be honest, our car was on rails today. Didn't struggle with tire deg[radation] like we did at Portland and the last couple of races.”

Asked if he thought this was the best car he’d had since he joined Ganassi at the start of 2021, Palou responded, “It was so tough to drive today and all weekend here at Laguna. The grip level from the tarmac is so low so you're fighting all the time, so it never feels like you have a good car even when you're leading by that much!

“But in comparison to others, obviously, yeah, it was the biggest margin that I ever got. It felt really good. I have to say strategy and all pit stops were really good, as well. Yeah, it felt amazing. Hopefully it's not the last car that is as good as what we had today.”

Inevitably, Palou was quizzed about his future, since he signed a contract to join McLaren for next year, and is being sued by Ganassi, who is rumored to have set his buyout clause at $10m.

“They're waiting to see what happens, as all of you guys,” he said. “Fortunately I don't have anything to share. I think everything is moving in the right direction. I don't know if it's going to take one day, one week or one month, but hopefully everything is going to be solved soon. I don't have anything to say clear, but everything is moving the right direction.

Asked how things are with Chip Ganassi at the moment, Palou responded, “We talk. We talked in Portland. We talked before that. You guys saw, I think, Nashville was it? We talked this morning, so...”

When asked if those chats were about 2023, he replied “Obviously” but added, “I wish I could tell you guys, ‘Hey, I'm doing this,’ but I don't have an answer yet. Maybe tomorrow.”

When it was pointed out that he finished 35sec ahead of the highest Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet driver (Felix Rosenqvist) and it would surely be difficult to walk away from a car as brilliant as his Ganassi-Honda, Palou grinned and replied: “We'll see what happens, but I wish I was 35 seconds ahead every race.

“I mean, last weekend in Portland, we finished 12th and everybody was overtaking me. It's IndyCar; it's not like every weekend you have the best car or the worst car, as we could see. Yeah, we'll see what happens.”

Palou said that he didn’t feel ‘cut loose’ from worrying about the championship since he came into the race out of contention for the title.

“I wish I had that pressure of fighting for the championship and points in my mind. I love that, I love that. I felt sad coming to this weekend. When I said that going to Portland we were going to have a chance, I really thought I had a chance, and that didn't happen.

“I was really sad. I wish that I couldn't sleep last night because I was thinking about points, but it was not like that this year, so yeah, we'll try again next year.”

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