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Palou ‘Gave Everything’ for Podium Result in Long Beach

Alex Palou finished third at Long Beach.
Alex Palou finished third at Long Beach.
Alex Palou collected his second podium through the opening three races for the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season. Image courtesy of Chris Owens / Penske Entertainment

Alex Palou continued the methodical defense of his NTT IndyCar Series crown with a third-place finish at Sunday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.

The 25-year-old Spaniard started third, led 22 laps, set the fastest lap of the race and was poised for potential victory until fading late to the final step of the podium.

In the end, the result has him leaving third in the championship after the opening three rounds of the 2022 season, trailing leader Josef Newgarden by a mere 15 points.

“Yeah, it was a good day for us,” said Palou, driver of the No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. “Started third. We had to be aggressive with the strategy there to try and beat Newgarden and Colton (Herta) there in the first stop. We did, and the guys did an amazing strategy, amazing stop, and we came out in P1.

“Then we were leading for some laps, but I could see that we were lacking a bit of speed compared to Josef. We had to pit because we pitted two laps earlier, so we had not a lot of fuel, and he got us. It was a good battle with him on track, as well. I think it was on the limit, but we tried, both of us. He won today.

“And then on the restart with Romain (Grosjean), I couldn’t really do much. I was really bad out of the hairpin and he was really good all the race and also with red (alternate) tires, so yeah, not much I could have done. But it was a good day for the 10 car.”

At one point, it appeared Palou would walk away with his first win of the season after leapfrogging Newgarden and Herta during the opening sequence of pit stops. He came into the pits in third on Lap 27 and used the undercut to vault into the lead.

From there, Palou was managing the gap but came under fire and ultimately relinquished the top spot after pitting on Lap 55. Although he ended up in a thrilling wheel-to-wheel battle with Newgarden, who was on his out-lap, two laps later, it wasn’t enough to regain control of the top spot.

The final pass that dropped Palou to third came courtesy of Grosjean, who made a stout pass into Turn 1 on Lap 70.

“Yeah, obviously when you’re in the lead, you always feel in control of the race,” Palou said. “I think it’s obviously better to be in the lead with zero Push-to-Pass than be second with 50 Push-to-Pass. You never know what’s going to happen, so I was trying my best to keep the lead on a different strategy. We couldn’t make it today. Normally we were able to do it last year, but yeah, we’ll try again.

“I think we gave everything we had. We were lacking a bit of speed out of the hairpin, and that made it really difficult to try and defend and also to try and attack him.”

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