Palou, Rosenqvist Stay Put

In the end, it was much ado about nothing. Alex Palou and Felix Rosenqvist will stay with the teams they raced for in 2022 next year. In nearly simultaneous announcements, both drivers and teams declared that 2023 will be status quo.

Palou in Victory Circle Sunday

Palou had indicated mid- season that he had signed with McLaren on the heels of a Ganassi announcement that his contract with the team has been extended. Palou ended the season with a win in the final race of the year at Laguna Seca last Sunday. He was fifth in the final standings. From Palou’s Twitter account:

“I’m also grateful that @CGRTeams will allow me to pursue F1 testing with @McLarenF1 outside of my INDYCAR commitment.

·Thank you Chip, Mike and the entire team for your willingness to work together and help support both the team and my personal goals throughout this process. “

Rosenqvist’s ride with Arrow McLaren SP was on the line this past season. He finished eighth in the standings, one spot behind teammate Pato O’Ward. Rosenqvist had one pole this season, at Texas. He had signed an extension with the team, but it was not specific as to which series Rosenqvist would be assigned to.

In the team’s news release, Rosenqvist said,

“There’s no better way to enter the off-season than with this news! I love this team, and I’m so happy to continue working with all the incredible people I’ve gotten to know over the past two seasons. With everything the team has in the pipeline, the continuing relationship with Pato and the addition of Alex Rossi, we are going to bring our A-game for 2023. It will be the most exciting season for me so far. Let it be March already!”

Laguna Seca Wrap Up

Post season depression is beginning to settle in, so I will attempt to combat it with a few final thoughts on the season finale.

Weather Tech Raceway is a nice track. i love the way it flows and its elevation changes. One the track sorely lacks are video boards. The only video screens are high atop the scoring pylon, too high and far away for most fans to see. I hope the management will consider installing some fan friendly screens.

I enjoyed watching Sunday’s morning warmup from turn 4. It is a sweeping righthander where you hear the change in engine pitch and hear the tire over the rumble strips as the cars head for the climb up to the corkscrew.

Will Power on his way to his second Indycar title

I watched the race from the front stretch just past the starting line. There was some fun drag racing going on at that spot throughout the field. I could see if a pass was successful when the cars got turn 4. My vantage point allowed me to see turn 4 and 5 to the right, and turns 9 and 10 to the left.

Yellow Nonsense

It was not the first time this season race control did this, but I hope it’s the last. Waiting to throw a yellow so that everyone can pit while a car is stopped in a dangerous position is foolish and detracts from the spirit of the game. They say they don’t want to ruin anyone’s race, but whether a race gets ruined is really the team’s choice when they choose when to pit or what tires to use. Let the teams ruin their own races. If a yellow is required, throw it, regardless of the lap or pit window. Indycar might as well go to competition cautions if they continue this policy.

The Sad Saga of the Final Race Winner

Whoever wins the final race of the season, if he’s not the series champion, gets a laurel and hearty handshake and then moves along. I know everyone is eager to crown the champion, and there is a television window to consider, but Alex Palou’s win was significant in many ways.

The win came amid the controversy surrounding his uncertain situation with Ganassi/McLaren for 2023, and ongoing legal battles. I admire the way Palou has kept his focus while all this is happening.

The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey was also the final chance Palou had to win a race as defending series champion. 2004 was the last year in which the previous year’s champ did not win a race.

It’s a difficult situation. I hope Indycar can find a way to give the final race winner more recognition.

A Final Note to Start the Offseason

I am already sick of the Kyle Busch in the Indianapolis 500 next year talk. If he does come, at least there will be no suspense about Rookie of the Year.

Quick Thoughts- Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

Congratulations to Will Power on his second Indycar championship. Power had a consistent season. His lowest finish was 19th at Road America, and he only finished outside of the top ten four times.

Race winner Alex Palou avoided the distinction of being the first defending championsince 2004 to not win a race the following year. Scott Dixon was the last champion to not have a win the nfoloowing year. It was a brilliant drive in what may be Palou’s final ride for Ganassi.

Congratulations to Christian Lungaard on winning the Rookie of the Year.

Palou overcame a six place grid penalty after an engine change. He backed up his fastest time in Saturday’s practice by leading this morning’s warmup.

What a great drive by Josef Newgarden coming from 25th to second.

I admire Palou’s ability to focus on the job at hand and push all the off track drama to the side. To win a race in the atmosphere he endured the second half of the season is amazing.

What a tough way for Callum Ilott to end the season after a great qualifying yesterday. With Juncos Hollinger Racing expanding to two cars form 2023, Ilott should have a more consistent year.

Newgarden won five races this season yet came up short in the championship. Two finbishes of 24th and 25th probably cost him the title.

Results

Thanks for following along this weekend. Tomorrow is a long btravel day. I willm have a season wrap up on Tuesday.

Palou Leads Morning Warmup

Alex Palou ran the quickest lap in the warmup for this afternoon’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey. Palou qualified fifth but will start 11th follow2ing an engine change last night.

Scott mcLaughlin had the second best lap, Alexander vRossi was third, and David Malukas was fourth. Polesitter Will Power finished the session 18th.

I spent part of the practice watching from turn 4. It is a great place to watch. The cars slow down and flow smoothly through the turn, and you can hear them run over the rumble strip. There could be a perpetual dust cloud here during the race.

Results

Grid Penalty for Palou

From Indycar

INDYCAR Announces WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca Grid Penalty 
 INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022) – INDYCAR officials have announced a six-position starting grid penalty for the No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing entry for an unapproved engine change following Saturday’s qualifications at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.The team was in violation of:Rule 16.2.3.2 A fifth (5th) Engine is eligible to earn Engine Manufacturer points if a Full Season Entrant has completed the Full Season Entrant Engine Mileage with its first four (4) Engines. Otherwise, a fifth (5th) or more Engine does not earn Engine Manufacturer points and will be considered an Unapproved Engine change-out.According to Rule 16.6.1.2, the penalty is a six-position starting grid penalty on road and street course events and nine positions at oval events and will be served at the series’ next event, which is the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, today, at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. 

Palou Sets Pace in Practice 2

Alex Palou led the pre qualifying practice session for the Firestoine Grand Prix of Monterey this morning with a fast time of 1:11.3847. Alxander Rossi was second fastest at 1;11.6920.

Points leader Will Power was third, 0.33 seconds behind. Josef Newgarden, second in points was fourth, and Scott Dixon, third in points, was sixth.

There was one red flag for Pato O’Ward about halfway throught the session.

Early in the session, thre rrokies were up front. Callum Ilott led, followed by David Malukas and Christian Lundgaard. It was a fun glimpse at the future of Indycar.

Callum Ilott

Lundgaard finished the session in seventh, Ilott was ninth, and Malukas tenth.

Results

Ganassi Sues Palou

Photo by Chris Jones, Indycar

Chip Ganassi racing has filed a lawsuit in Marion County, Indiana, against Alex Palou, a driver for the team and current NTT Indycar Series champion. The complaint was sealed, but the suit likely involves Palou allegedly signing with McLaren for next season even though Ganassi exercised their 2023 option on Palou.

A team spokesperson said that Palou will drive the 10 car in this weekend’s Gallagher Grand Prix at IMS and is expected to drive the remaining 2022 races.

The filing

Ganassi has requested expedited discovery, within two weeks. as he wants to resolve this case as soon as possible.

I think this case will drag on awhile. McLaren said today they will not buy out Palou’s Ganassi contract, so a settlement doesn’t appear likely.

The implications for Palou’s Indycar career are troubling. Should he not work out at McLaren, I don’t think another Indycar team will touch him. McLaren has not even said that Palou will drive one of their cars in the series next season. AMSP driver Felix Rosenqvist said last weekend that he doesn’t think Palou will be driving at all next year.

It would be a shame if Indycar loses one of its brightest future stars, who already has a championship, because a team is trying to hoard all the top talent in the series.

I thought having a legendary brand like McLaren in the series was going to be great for the series. I really don’t like what they are doing. Their signing tactics are not good for the series as a whole.

I wrote about this subject just a few days ago:

Draining the Talent Pool

Poaching Season- McLaren Palou Announcement Follows Ganassi Option News

Marvin Gaye sums up the day’s news best. I posted a news release from Chip Ganassi Racing announcing the team is picking up its 2023 option on Alex Palou. I went out for a couple hours, come home and find out Palou has signed with McLaren.

McLaren is building up a strong lineup of drivers. So far, only Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi have definite spots in the Indycar program. My understanding is Palou’s spot is not named. I will do some digging tonight nd tomorrow and hope to get some clarity tomorrow.

At any rate, another level of drama has been added to the second half of the Indycar season. Make sure your popcorn makers are working.

Ganassi Picks Up 2023 Option on Palou

Chip Ganassi Racing exercised its 2023 option to retain defending NTT Indycar Series champion Alex Palou today. The news release from the team:

Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announced today that the team has exercised its option to extend Alex Palou through the 2023 season.

Palou won CGR’s 14th INDYCAR SERIES championship in 2021, also becoming the first Spaniard to ever win the season title.

“Alex’s track record speaks for itself,” said Team Owner Chip Ganassi. “He’s a proven champion and one of the most formidable drivers in the world. We are very excited to continue working together.”

The defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion has continued to impress this year, securing his 12th podium finish in his 25th career race with Chip Ganassi Racing at Mid-Ohio.

Palou will return to the CGR fold for his third season with the team next year.

“It’s a great feeling knowing I’ll be back with Chip Ganassi Racing next season,” said Alex Palou. “The team welcomed me with open arms from day one, and I’m excited to continue working with Chip, Mike Hull, the folks on the No. 10 NTT DATA car and everyone within the organization. The goals remain the same and we will continue to work relentlessly towards achieving them.”

The CGR team heads north this weekend where Alex Palou will race for the first time in Canada at the Honda Indy Toronto.

About Chip Ganassi Racing

Chip Ganassi has been a fixture in the auto racing industry for over 30 years and is considered one of the most successful and innovative owners in motorsports. Today, his teams include four Honda cars in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, two Cadillac Dpi’s in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and one GMC Hummer EV in Extreme E. Overall, his teams have 21 championships and more than 240 victories, including five wins in the Indianapolis 500, eight Rolex 24 At Daytona victories, and wins in the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ganassi boasts state-of-the-art facilities in Indianapolis, where INDYCAR, IMSA and Extreme E teams are located, and a corporate office in Pittsburgh. For more information, visit, www.chipganassiracing.com.

Share on