IndyCar, International

IndyCar newsflash: Alex Palou takes his first victory

Chris Owens

Alex Palou wins season opener in Alabama ahead of veterans Will Power and Scott Dixon – Youngsters make an impact again – Josef Newgarden takes out four rivals at start of the race

Spaniard Alex Palou (Chip Ganassi Racing) won the NTT IndyCar Series season opener at Barber Motorsports Park last Sunday ahead of veteran Will Power (Team Penske) and Chip Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon. In the process, he stayed out of the starting collision and used strategy to snatch victory from the competition. 

Patricio O’Ward (Arrow McLaren SP) finished fourth, while Rinus VeeKay (Ed Carpenter Racing) saw the chequered flag in sixth. Romain Grosjean (Dale Coyne Racing) rounded out the top ten as the best of the three “rookies”, while Scott Mclaughlin (Team Penske) saw the finish line in 14th. NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson (Chip Ganassi Racing) finished 19th in his IndyCar debut after an early spin.

Youngsters set the tone for the weekend

The young IndyCar drivers already made their mark in qualifying. O’Ward beat Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport) and the eventual race winner Palou. However, in a strategic season opener, Palou’s two-stop strategy made the difference against the three-stopper O’Ward.

Power and Dixon also lost out to Palou in the end. For the 24-year-old, it is not only the first win for his new employer Chip Ganassi Racing, but also the first career success in the IndyCar Series.

Newgarden causes chaos at the start of the race

Credit: Chris Owens

While still on the first lap of the freshly-launched season, Penske driver Josef Newgarden caused the first scary moment. After losing his car in Turn 4, the 2017 and 2019 champion had Ryan Hunter-Reay, Felix Rosenqvist, Max Chilton and Colton Herta crash into him. Fortunately for all involved, no one was injured.

Nevertheless, the crash and the resulting retirement meant a bitter blow for Newgarden and Herta in particular. Both drivers were considered to be strong contenders for the title and were only classified 22nd (Herta) and 23rd (Newgarden) in the end. 

However, the chance to make amends is not long in coming. The second race of the season on the streets of St. Petersburg (Florida) will already take place on 25th April.