Alex Palou isn’t too concerned about Penske’s early domination of this year’s IndyCar championship.
The opening three races have seen Penskes cars take a clean sweep with Scott McLaughlin winning in St Petersburg and Josef Newgarden taking victory in Texas and Long Beach, with the pair now leading the championship ahead of Palou, who is 15 points in third after scoring a second and a third in St Petersburg and Long Beach.
With the series heading to Barber for the first permanent road course race of the season, Palou remains pleased with Chip Ganassi’s start to the season, with the reigning champion predicting that the team will break Penske’s winning streak when speaking to selected media outlets which included MotorLat.
“I think so far, so good. We started fighting for races, which is what you want. You cannot always win, like (the) Penske guys have been doing so far this start of the season. But yeah, we'll try and stop these guys at Barber. It's not going to be easy. They were strong there last year, as well. But we need to focus on us, and I think we're doing a good job.”
“The win is going to come whenever. It's not like it needs to come now at Barber. As long as we keep on improving and being ourselves and being consistent and having fight, we'll be all right. We will try and stop them, but there's a lot of drivers on different teams. We have to stop the Andrettis, as well. They are super fast, and with Romain there, I think they are obviously they have one more driver that's right there, and they have more info, and they have really good cars. They had already last year; it's going to be tough always, so yeah, we'll try and make it happen.”
Barber is one of the more challenging circuits on the IndyCar calendar, with a mixture of fast corners, long straights, chicanes and hairpins, making it a real challenge for the drivers.
But the tightness of the layout means that lapping backmarkers is far from straightforward, as Palou found out to his peril last year as he lost around five seconds behind slower cars as he successfully held off Will Power for his maiden win in the series.
“Yeah, not easy. It's a really high-speed track where it just makes it tougher to follow other cars, and it's tight. I think last year we lost; I don't know, about five seconds to Power in second place because of a lap car.”
“At the end of the day, it's the same for everybody. When you are P2, that helps you. When you are P1, you just want to kill the guy in front. But it is what it is. It's going to help you one day, and it's not going to help the other day.”
The month of May will be a busy one for IndyCar as not only will the series be heading to Barber for this weekend’s race before returning to Indianapolis for more testing and the GMR Grand Prix held on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Grand Prix course in mid-May as preparations for the series’s showpiece event the Indy 500 continue to ramp up.
However, the hectic schedule isn’t bothering Palou, who is relishing the challenge ahead of him as he looks to go one better in the 500.
“Yeah, it's busy. It's very busy, and especially we don't have like sessions. It's like open for us, which is amazing. So yeah, it's very busy. We're trying to test as much stuff as possible with that track time we have. The engineering guys, they come up with lists that are like super long, and we cannot fit obviously, but it's fun.”
“I think sometimes you need to come down a little bit because I think the confidence is what matters the most, better than a setup change at the IMS. So yeah, hopefully, we can do things a little bit better than we did last year, and we can have a good race. But super excited for the month of May.”