Alex Palou dedicates himself to his second Indycar championship | Sports

Alex Ballou has done it again. The 26-year-old from Barcelona was crowned Indycar champion for the second time after a fantastic season on the track and an ambiguous season in the offices, during which he was sued by two teams in just over a year. He did it at Portland International Circuit (Oregon), in the penultimate race of the championship, with a remarkable performance in which he crossed the finish line first for the fifth time this season.

The distance with his teammate, Scott Dixon, the only one who could overshadow him, is already insurmountable with only one race remaining. The 43-year-old Australian-born New Zealander is already an IndyCar legend, with a record six championships, won over the past 20 years (2003, 2008, 2013, 2015, 2018 and 2020). A fearsome competitor against whom Baloo maintained his composure.

After crossing the finish line, Palo was happy to achieve the championship by winning the race. “That’s what we wanted obviously. It was an amazing weekend overall, and we had very fast cars. “We knew we had to push forward and we did what we’ve been doing all season, so yeah, very proud to be here in Victory Lane, very proud of the championship Second and fifteenth for the team,” he told NBC cameras. “I never thought I would become an IndyCar champion, and to get the title twice is unbelievable, like a dream,” he added, thanking the team for the car, the pit strategy and all the work.

The race was perfect from start to finish. Skillful maneuvering at the start allowed the Catalan to gain two places and a third, overtaking on the inside of the first corner and on the outside of the second. Meanwhile, his rival Scott Dixon lost his place. The Spanish driver then passed Scott McLaughlin and when he was putting pressure on Graham Rahal, he entered the pits to refuel and change tires on lap 22 of the 110th lap of the race. Palo was in front and received the bonus point for leading the race by one lap. Dixon came in second place.

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Rahal ran into traffic and Ballu delayed his stop as he gained a margin and drove brilliantly. When he left the pits he was already ahead of Rahal. Although he was in third place, the two drivers in front of him had not stopped yet. On lap 35 he regained the lead and maintained it throughout that round, with teammate and sole title contender Dixon in second place. But the second set of tires gave him worse results and with Dixon hot on his heels he entered the pits on lap 49. He exited just before traffic and He obstructed Brazilian Helio Castroneves, who was trying to pass him, taking advantage of the fact that the Catalan driver’s tires were still cold. He risked a penalty, but the stewards reviewed the maneuver and deemed it legal.

Dixon stopped on lap 61 and Palo returned to the lead by 9 seconds. His last stop came after lap 79. He returned to the track in sixth place, but was the default leader. He regained first place with 26 laps remaining and there Argentinian Agustin Canapino’s exit from the track triggered the safety car. Yes, Palo was the leader, but he lost his advantage and a new 22-lap race began. Baloo did not allow himself to be surprised and stayed in first place until he saw the checkered flag. Swede Felix Rosenqvist and his direct competitor Dixon completed the podium.

Palo has been the most consistent driver of the year. His worst position this season was eighth. But there were two amazing months (between May 13 and July 2) in which he won four of the five races that allowed him to escape the classification. And he probably would have won all five if not for the fact that in the most famous race of all time, the Indianapolis 500, Dutch driver Rinus Wiekai He lost control of his car when he left the pits and collided with the Spaniard’s car. Who was able to recover and finish fourth. And he had achieved it first place He wanted revenge for the previous year’s race, when Brazilian Helio Castroneves overtook him with two laps remaining.

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The San Antonio Vilamajor (Barcelona)-born driver began competing in karts at a time when Fernando Alonso’s victories unleashed his passion for the world of four wheels in Spain. He is from the generation of Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc, but the lack of sufficient support prevented him from entering Formula 1. He went to compete in Japan and from there he jumped to the United States, where his talent stood out from the crowd. beginning. In his first season he raced for Dale Coyne Racing, and in his second season he signed with his current team, Chip Ganassi Racing, where he debuted by winning the first race and the championship at the end of the season. He was the first Spaniard and the fifth European to achieve this. With his second title, he actually became fourth in the IndyCar classification, a system inherited from other competitions, but which has been celebrated as such since 1996.

Contractual tampering

The Spaniard’s victory comes in a year in which he initially intended to compete in the McLaren IndyCar team as a possible forerunner to Formula 1. Chip Ganassi exercised his option to retain him and after filing a lawsuit against his driver, there was a three-way agreement for which he stayed with the team, but made Compatible with training with the McLaren Formula 1 team. In recent weeks, the contractual storm has erupted once again. Now it is the driver who wants to stay with Chip Ganassi, and it is McLaren that has filed a lawsuit against him, demanding $20 to $30 million for an alleged breach of contract, claiming that it has entered into an agreement with the driver for next season.

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Indycar swaps traditional American ovals with urban circuits and road courses of different layouts. There is much greater equality than in Formula 1, as everyone is equipped with a Dallara chassis and two engines: Chevrolet and Honda. The manufacturers’ standings (top two drivers per engine result) are very balanced with one race remaining, although there are more wins for Honda.

In the scoring system, the race winner gets 50 points, but can also add an extra point for first place, another point for leading a lap in the race and two points for being the person who leads the race with the most laps. Because of this, Ballou needed to leave Portland with a 54-point lead to be champion. He achieved more than that.

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