Palou “not comfortable” in spite of maintaining healthy championship lead after Iowa

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Photo credit: Penske Entertainment/Chris Owens

Despite championship contender and Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden sweeping both races at Iowa Speedway this past weekend, Alex Palou came out of the weekend with a still-healthy 80-point advantage. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver finished eighth in the Saturday race and third on Sunday—his best finish on the 7/8 mile track.

The Spaniard admitted after the race that he had more pace on Saturday but his team delivered the goods on Sunday.

“Honestly yesterday [Saturday] we had a lot of pace. Not like Penske pace, but like second series pace, and that was great. We just didn’t really have that final lap that you need to finish fourth, fifth, and we finished eighth.[…Sunday] we had no pace. I was struggling to overtake. I was struggling to keep the tyres under the deck, and the team just put me in the position that we are now. So, yeah, it was all up to the team today.”

When a caution came with ten laps to go, that position was fifth—but the final car on the lead lap.

“I knew that we were the last car on the lead lap, so I could risk it a little bit more. If I had an issue with something, I was not going to lose a position. So went on the outside. Had a good restart. Went on the outside of McLaughlin, and I think Rosenqvist was battling with Power and just to the narrow, and I got to the inside of him into three.”

The only one Palou didn’t get a chance at was Newgarden, who took his fifth straight oval win and eighth of his last ten. The reigning Indy 500 winner has been dominant at the final oval at Gateway, winning the last three races at Worldwide Technology Raceway, but fortunately Palou—who has just one top ten finish at Gateway—has a street and road course beforehand to build his lead back up.

“I’m glad we have those points in the bag, but I’m not comfortable, honestly. I will be comfortable if we won the championship already.[…] I need to do the work in Nashville and Indy Road Course before getting there.”