Palou reflects on his 2023 IndyCar “magical season,” eager to repeat in 2024

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Alex Palou now has a second chance to defend an IndyCar Championship title, after winning his first title in 2021 also with Chip Ganassi Racing.

Photo Credit: Chip Ganassi Racing

2023 was a magical year for the Spanish driver, as he was one with the team a tougher campaign in 2022 also due to his off track lawsuit following his contract negotiations with Arrow McLaren.

Palou improved his own first Championship run, where he had scored three victories and eight podiums in his first season as a Ganassi driver following his IndyCar debut with Dale Coyne Racing.

Nevertheless, in 2023 he smashed his previous record, securing five victories and ten podiums, getting pretty close to a perfect season. He also scored nearly 120 more points than in 2022, and one more pole, including the very prestigious top spot at the 107th running of the 500.

Last season was one to remember for the 26-year-old driver, who is just as hungry for more heading into 2024.

The target is set for the brand-new DHL driver: to defend his title going for the third one, and what would be the second in a row, as he said while talking to Pit Debrief and other selected medias:

“It’s always tough. It’s always tough in INDYCAR . It’s tough from year to year because the drivers can catch up, they have time. The teams, they have time to find whatever they were missing, like what we did in 2022 to 2023”, explained the reigning champion.

“But being a champion and trying to be a champion again, I think I’m really lucky that in INDYCAR we don’t really have a lot of champions that repeat.

“So there’s no pressure at all of like having one champion that suddenly wins six in a row. We don’t have that. I think it’s more of a shock if we see a champion repeating than if we don’t see him repeating.”

Photo Credit: Chip Ganassi Racing

The driver of car no. 10 will not face the same expectations that were on Max Verstappen in Formula 1 after Abu Dhabi 2021, but will do his best to replicate his winning streak in North America:

“I think that the opportunity I have in front of me, it’s great. The team is the same. The key people in my car is the same. The colors are different. But that gives us also another opportunity to try and give them some wins and some excitement on track

“So yeah, I don’t really feel the pressure of trying to defend a title because every time we step on the track, we need to win. Even if you are a champ or you’re not, you need to win,” sealed the Spaniard.

With only Top 10 results all season in 2023, not only finishing every single race, but finishing in the Top 8 in all 17 races, in spite of the number of close shaves he had, is an even more amazing accomplishment.

When asked about it, he replied with a laugh: “Yeah, top 8s. Big difference there. No, only joking.

“I don’t know, honestly. I remember with my first year in INDYCAR finishing in the top 10 was a win, and then even in 2021, finishing in the top 8 was like, hey, man, it was a good day because you know that you’re going to have a bad day, and a top 8 is not a bad day,” he continued.

“Having our worst day and being a top 8, there was a couple or three top 8s that felt amazing. Looking back, it’s crazy. It’s not like we didn’t have difficult races. We had Indy 500 that at some point we were completely last, from first to last. We finished fourth. Long Beach, we were in an accident with Pato and Scott. We got trapped and we were in the back.”

Aware that having such a perfect season in 2024 will be almost impossible to achieve, Palou is grateful for the experience:

“Yeah, it was a magical season that I know it’s going to be tough to repeat because even on the bad moments we were able to get amazing results, even podiums. So yeah, I know that there’s seasons that everything that can go wrong goes wrong, and it was not the case for 2023, so hopefully we can repeat that in 2024.”