The Youngest Champion?

Photo: Alex Palou celebrates winning the Rev Group Grand Prix. Photo by Chris Owens, Indycar

Alex Palou holds a 39 point lead in the NTT Indycar Series championship over Pato O’Ward with just six races left in the season. Veterans Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden sit third and forth and have a chance at overtaking him in the final stages. I think Palou will prevail. At Mid Ohio he showed that he can maximize points playing the hand he has been dealt on a particular weekend. Would Palou be the youngest champion in Indycar Series history? He would only rank third. Sam Hornish, Jr. was just 22 years old when he won the IRL championship in 2001. Jacques Villeneuve was slightly younger than Palou will be when the 2021 season ends.

Sam Hornish, Jr.
Jacques Villeneuve

Villeneuve, born April 9 , 1971 was 24 years, 154 days old when the 1995 season ended on September 10. Palou’s birthday is April 1, 1997, and he will be 24 years, 178 days old when the current season ends on September 26. The 1995 season had 17 races, In 2021 the schedule called for 17 races, but the cancellation of the Toronto race has reduced this year to 16 events.

We need to look back to 1960, when A. J. Foyt won his first championship at age 25. The next youngest series winners since then were Sam Hornish, Jr. in 2006, and Al Unser, Jr. in 1990, who were both won at the age of 27. Hornish, Jr. was 27 years, 100 days at the final race of 2006, while Unser, Jr. was 27 years, 185 days old at the conclusion of the 1990 season.

In the year of the kids, crowning the third youngest champion in the last 61 years seems appropriate. I’m anxious for the year too resume anbd to see how everything plays out.