How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival?
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How good is Palou and is he Dixon’s strongest title rival?

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Last Sunday, Alex Palou delivered his first IndyCar victory on his Chip Ganassi Racing debut. Is the young Spaniard going to become his legendary teammate Scott Dixon’s biggest title threat? David Malsher-Lopez reports.

Scott Dixon, six-time and reigning NTT IndyCar Series champion, was intrigued by what he observed during offseason testing, as he scanned the data of his new teammate Alex Palou. There was ‘another way’ to drive the current breed of IndyCar, the IR18 complete with universal aerokit and now with the altered weight distribution caused by the addition of the aeroscreen. Dixon realized that Palou, having joined the series at the same time as the new cockpit safety device was introduced, came in without presuppositions, his instincts untainted by memories of the car in its pre-aeroscreen form. He only ever ran one test for Dale Coyne Racing without it.

In testing for Ganassi, Palou was almost immediately on Dixon’s pace and in one test, when comparative fuel loads and tire wear were taken into account, he was faster than the master. Not by much, but then the margins even between the great and the merely good are pinched tighter in IndyCar these days than ever before. Looking at the Q1 groups in qualifying at Barber last weekend, if one ignores the two drivers who had their best qualifying times deleted because they caused red flags, along with outlier journeyman Dalton Kellett, and Jimmie Johnson who is still coming to terms with his truly alien environment, the remaining 20 cars were covered by 1.2sec.

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