Alex Palou’s 2023 championship form “resets the bar”

Alex Palou’s 2023 championship form “resets the bar”

The performance by Palou was one for the ages. In 17 races, the Spaniard claimed five wins, 10 podiums, 13 top fives, and 17 top 10s, of which featured no result lower than eighth, to claim his second championship in three years. He added two poles and four fastest laps to the tally, along with leading laps in 11 rounds and amassing 377 laps led on the year (second only to Josef Newgarden’s mark of 607).

Palou ended the year with a 3.7 average finish, which stands out as one of the best outings since Tony Kanaan (2004) and Dan Wheldon (2005), respectively.

The run of results allowed Palou to lock up the title in the penultimate round at Portland International Raceway, becoming the first driver to clinch prior to the season finale since Sebastien Bourdais captured the 2007 Champ Car title with a race to spare.

Power, who scored four podiums and 11 top 10s to finish seventh in last year’s title race, respects what the Chip Ganassi Racing driver was able to accomplish and reckons it was untouchable.

“Five wins, nothing outside the top eight, man, that is … My God, you’re just sitting at such a high level there,” said Power, the 2018 Indianapolis 500 winner.

“People say he wrapped it up with one to go or he was almost done with two to go. He probably could have. He was on his way to winning the last race. He had taken off the lead in that thing obviously with a lot of mayhem.

“But that’s a championship to remember in this field. That is a very, very impressive run. Very strong.

“I couldn’t see anyone beating that. There’s no one sitting back going, ‘If I just finish this race.’ Everyone is just going, ‘this dude just absolutely mopped the floor (with the field)’. He nailed it.”

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For the sake of comparison, Power had three results outside the top 10 – seven beyond the top eight – when winning the 2014 IndyCar Series championship. His run to win the 2022 title featured four finishes outside the top 10, which also stood as his only results lower than eighth.

The Aussie expressed that Palou’s form changes the approach of how to attack the championship moving forward.

“Yeah, it’s not having mistakes plus winning races,” Power said. “Not just finishing; you can’t just be top five every time. You’ve got to win races.

“That’s one tough team and competitor right there.

“It just resets the bar in this series, which is a very high bar already, which is pretty cool to see.”

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