The most desired open seat in the NTT IndyCar series has been filled. In a somewhat surprising move, Chip Ganassi has signed Alex Palou to vill the vacant seat in the No. 10 Honda. The seat became open when Felix Rosenqvist opted to make the move to Arrow McLaren SP, leaving the door open for the 23-year old Spaniard. In his rookie season with Dale Coyne Racing, Palou scored three top-ten finishes, highlighted by his podium finish in the first race at Road America. Another highlight of his season was qualifying 7th for the Indianapolis 500 in August.
Palou only led one lap during the season, in the final race at St Petersburg. Still, the potential is evident, which is a big reason why Ganassi signed him. It has been quite busy at Ganassi in recent weeks. The signing of Jimmie Johnson got things started, followed by the sixth career championship for Scott Dixon this past weekend. Earlier this week the team confirmed that Marcus Ericsson will be back in the No. 8 car next season. The team will be participating in the big open test at Barber on Monday. The full press release from today is below.
[Chip Ganassi Racing Press Release]
Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announced today that 23-year-old Spaniard Alex Palou will join the team’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES program in the No. 10 Honda beginning in 2021. He will team up with Six-Time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion, Indianapolis 500 and 50-time race winner Scott Dixon, Seven-Time NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson, and recently re-signed Marcus Ericsson for an expanded four-car lineup in 2021. Partnership details will be announced in the off-season in preparation for the 2021 INDYCAR season and beyond.
In 2020, Palou spent his rookie NTT INDYCAR SERIES season with Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh where he scored his first-career podium at Road American en route to a 16th place result in the championship standings. Prior to that, he won a Super Formula Championship race in 2019, competed at the All-Japan Formula 3 championship in 2017, recorded his first race in the Formula 3 Series in 2015, and made his debut in open-wheel racing competing in the Euroformula Open Championship in 2014.
Palou debuted at the Indianapolis 500 by qualifying for the Fast 9 Pole Position Shootout in his first visit to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which resulted in an impressive seven-place starting position. The Rookie also made three starts inside the top four by qualifying third at Road America in Race 2, fourth at Mid-Ohio Race 2 and fourth again at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in Race 2. He also ran as high as 11th in championship points after Iowa Speedway.
“To say I’m thrilled or excited to be making this step in my career would be an understatement,” Palou said. “Driving for Chip Ganassi is just a dream come true. I’ve followed the team for as long as I can remember, and it’s the kind of team and owner any driver would want to race for. Scott has had another tremendous season, reaching 50 wins and a sixth title, so you absolutely couldn’t ask for anything more in a teammate. I can’t wait to work with Marcus and Jimmie as well, and to start contributing to the team and getting to spend more time with everyone.”
“I love to watch the growth of young drivers,” said CGR managing director Mike Hull. “This year racing Indy cars has been very difficult for young drivers like Alex who hadn’t had the opportunity to visually see the tracks in advance, nor have days of practice in private team testing, or open testing or three-day weekends. Putting that into perspective, he did a heck of a job.
“We had an opening, and he became available, and Chip has a great eye for talent. Alex has that spark, that intangible thing you combine with talent that is a lot of fun. It’s a great exploration thing, actually. You’re exploring how far you can go, and he has one year of experience with a quality team, quality engineering and a quality teammate. He stood up to that test extremely well.”