IndyCar roundup: Palou writes history as he wins title
Alex Palou secures IndyCar title at Long Beach finale – Colton Herta victorious also at Long Beach – Romain Grosjean to join Andretti next year
What was already apparent after Laguna Seca, Alex Palou (Chip Ganassi Racing) put into practice in Long Beach. The three-time season winner finished fourth, which was easily enough as his main rival Patricio O’Ward (McLaren SP) retired. Palou thus became the first Spaniard to win the IndyCar crown.
Meanwhile, Colton Herta (Andretti Autosport) won the final race of the season ahead of Josef Newgarden (Team Penske) and Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing). The youngster had previously won at Laguna Seca and the second race of the season at St.Petersburg. Despite his three wins this season, however, Herta – due to having lost too many points – no longer had any influence on the title fight. Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) completed the top five on the Californian street circuit.
Pagenaud will not be returning to his previous employer next year. It has been announced that the 2016 IndyCar champion will leave the team led by “Captain” Roger Penske and drive for Meyer Shank Racing alongside Helio Castroneves. As a result, two former Penske drivers will be sitting in the cars of this year’s Indy 500-winning team next season.
O’Ward doomed to spectator role
For the fans of the IndyCar Series, the title fight came to an unspectacular end in Long Beach. O’Ward was the victim of an unfortunate manoeuvre by Ed Jones (Dale Coyne Racing) already on the starting lap and ultimately had to retire for good on lap 17 as a result of the collision. Palou thus only had to make it to the finish to become champion. O’Ward even lost second place in the championship to Newgarden due to his retirement.
At the same time, Scott McLaughlin (Team Penske) won the “Rookie of the Year” classification ahead of Romain Grosjean (Dale Coyne Racing) and NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson (Chip Ganassi Racing).
Grosjean switches to Andretti Autosport, Callum Ilott continues to race in 2022
European fans have one other European to look forward to in the 2022 grid, in addition to Palou’s triumphant title. Callum Ilott (United Kingdom), who has already contested the last three races of the season for Juncos Hollinger Racing, will be in the cockpit of the #77 car full-time in 2022, as ‘RACER.com’ confirmed. The Ferrari junior driver was runner-up in Formula 2 last year and will henceforth seek his fortune on the other side of the Atlantic.
Grosjean is moving to the top team of Andretti Autosport after a stellar rookie season. The 35-year-old signed a multi-year contract and will take over the #28 cockpit from Ryan Hunter-Reay. The team of Michael Andretti will thus have three red-hot contenders with Grosjean, Herta and Alexander Rossi in next year’s title fight.