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IndyCar Nashville

Palou sure he has fair title shot, despite Ganassi conflict

Defending IndyCar champion Alex Palou is sure he will have a chance to retain his crown, despite being only third highest Ganassi driver and on the brink of an acrimonious departure.

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Palou finished third in a wild and unpredictable Music City Grand Prix in Nashville, and has closed the gap to championship leader Will Power to 33 points. However, his Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda teammates Scott Dixon – who won in Nashville – and Marcus Ericsson are only six and 12 points respectively in arrears of the Team Penske-Chevrolet driver.

Given that he is currently being sued by team owner Chip Ganassi for breaking the terms of his contract and signing a deal with McLaren Racing, Palou was asked if he thought he would still get a fair shot at defending his crown.

The 25-year-old ace smiled and said, “Yes, 100 percent. I think there’s a lot going on but at the end of the day, Chip will be super-happy if we win the championship.

“He wants one of his cars to win the championship. We cannot all three win but he wants one car to win, so I don’t think I’m getting less stuff or not so much attention than others. Otherwise, I would say it, to be honest.

“So yeah, I think we have a fair shot for sure.”

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Gavin Baker / Motorsport Images

Ganassi, jubilant at Dixon’s triumph against the odds, also came to congratulate Palou in the aftermath of the race, and the Spaniard said it was the first time the pair had had a private moment since the now infamous July 12 fallout.

“We didn’t really have a chat one-to-one since then, but yeah, I mean, it’s good right? We just finished on the podium, it was a good day, it was a good day for the team overall with Scott finishing P1, so it was nice. Like, I have no issues at all.”

Palou later clarified that they hadn’t previously had a direct interchange with each other since mid-July, but still had exchanged words.

“A conversation? Yeah. We spoke like when we see each other in the trailers and stuff, and it’s not like we avoid each other.”

Asked if he was surprised to speak with his team owner in the Nashville aftermath, Palou said no.

“It’s not like last year he would be happy if I finished top five… Top three, even if Scott hadn’t won the race, I think he would come and congratulate. He’s happy he has a car on the podium.”

Regarding his championship prospects, Palou said: “I think we just need to win, to be honest. It’s OK to finish third and fourth and fifth and stuff, but we need to win. Probably not the next race [Gateway’s World Wide Technology Raceway] because it’s not my best, but I need to win the last two races [Portland and Laguna Seca] to get a chance.

“So we’ll do the best, prepare the best we can, but yeah, I think the last two races are probably our best opportunity for the #10 car.”

Palou is the highest-ranked driver in the championship hunt without a win this year, so to be only 33 points behind the leader and ahead of two drivers who have won two races – Scott McLaughlin and Pato O’Ward – is testament to his consistency.

“I think we started the year great,” he said. “We did a lot of mistakes, and had a bit of an unlucky time at some races which cost us a lot of points. But everybody has some unlucky races, so I’m not surprised that we’re there because we’ve been doing some great results.

“But I know I need to win a race. And I know it’s coming, I have faith that the work we’re doing is good, and some races that are coming are good for us. We won Portland last year, so yeah, I have faith that we’re going to win one race this year.”

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