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this is how Alex Palou won the IndyCar and the hearts of the rest

Jimmie Johnson is a seven-time champion and record holder in Nascar, the most popular championship in the United States. A legend in his

this is how Alex Palou won the IndyCar and the hearts of the rest


Jimmie Johnson is a seven-time champion and record holder in Nascar, the most popular championship in the United States. A legend in his country. 2.5 million followers on Twitter, as much or more than the majority of Formula 1 drivers. As a final challenge, he decided to make the leap to single-seaters in the IndyCar. The best team awaited him, Chip Ganassi. 2021 was the first year, in which I also had a young and new 24-year-old teammate, one Alex Palou.

The day after Palou won the championship, Jonhson had the unusual gesture of posting on Twitter a video with the Catalan’s best moments from last season while giving him the best praise and putting in context what he considered an exceptional achievement. An incredible accolade that reinforced the spectacular media reaction that Alex Palou is starring in the United States and Europe. And because unanimity seems to reign around him: his unique talent and precocity make his success unique. And he is a wonderful person. Some even say too much.

“The happiest person in the world”

Ricky Davis is responsible for Palou’s car on the Ganassi team. A long-standing and experienced mechanic, he had only achieved two victories with his drivers since 2014. At the beginning of this season he was hosting almost a rookie. Like so many on the team, Davis and his teammates were amazed at Palou’s talent and personality. “It has been an experience that I have never had before with anyone,” explains Davis in the American publication Racer, “Alex is very calm, he is the happiest person in the world, and every day. It seemed like a facade, but it really is that happy. He was the first time I saw him, the first time he came to the workshop, he was happy to go to his first race, and he has been happy ever since. Compete very well, intelligently. It has everything you need. And honestly, he has elevated the entire team from day one. Some of the younger members of the team have been here for a few years, without much success. And his happy attitude is welcomed by everyone around him, and everyone is happier ”.

Jimmie Johnson has become a sort of older brother to Palou. “One of the things that I have tried to reinforce in Alex is that he be himself”, explains someone who has lived it all as a superstar in the United States, “I think it is a mistake that many make, to think that they have to do everything differently. or be someone else. Or try intimacy, when you’re not that personality type, or be nice when you’re really an asshole. ” The American gave him advice to face the one that was coming to him. “I insisted all the time:” Be yourself. Whatever you are doing is working ”, he told her in the face of Palou’s growing success,“ it is nothing more, nothing less. Stay on track and still be you. ”

“It blew us away”

But it is not only about a profile and temperament with which everyone agrees. “The large number of layers that he puts to prepare each weekend, I’ve never seen that before ”, also pointed out Jonhson, who in turn also took advantage of Palou’s experience in single-seaters to constantly exchange information. Chip Ganassi, the boss, as well as Jonsson and the rest of the team were impressed by Palou’s reaction after his accident in the 500-mile practice. “It really surprised me that it didn’t affect him so much,” acknowledged Ganassi, who has seen it all with drivers like Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon, “we were in awe, as soon as he got in the car he had the speed, we were amazed ”. Jonhson himself acknowledges that after that incident he thought that Palou was the complete pilot. “That with the pressure, the speed and the rivals, he has the sensitivity and the ability to understand his car, and how he helps lead the team, it’s really really impressive for me.” As if Michael Schumacher or Lewis Hamilton were talking about another young driver.

Even his teammate, Scott Dixon, a six-time IndyCar champion, couldn’t help but love his young rival. “I don’t think you can find a nicer person, it’s great to see the good guys win too. I think I am too, but in adverse situations people can see that you have a bad mood. But he always has a smile on, so I think it’s refreshing to watch. As we have seen, this has not been an obstacle for him in any way ”.

“A nice guy and a killer”

Marcus Ericsson, a former Formula 1 driver and Ganassi’s teammate, also recognizes the two traits of consensus in Palou: “He is a great driver, but also a great person. What Alex has is that he is super humble and works very hard, something magnificent to see, because it shows that you can be a nice guy and a ‘killer’ on the track. He has that balance of being very nice and with his feet on the ground outside, but when he gets in the car, he puts on the necessary face and pays off. For me, this is the type of driver ”. Julian Robertson, his strategist, also praises Palou’s qualities: “He gives us all the options on the wall: save fuel, run the mileage we ask for with fuel, attack when you need it. Its performance is unmatched. And such a young age. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you have such a great leader in the driver. “

The crew chief is usually the closest to and knows a driver. For Davis, “compared to the most expert drivers we have had, he has brought like no one else a willingness to learn, listen to questions and ask for advice.” IndyCar journalist David Malsher-Lopez recalled the anecdote in Autosport when Palou was crashed in the 500 Miles. After rebuilding the car to perfection, the mechanics team – crucial in the ovals – went to congratulate Davis. “Thanks, but I’m impressed with Alex,” replied Alex, “he doesn’t have much experience yet, and he went for it yesterday. It’s like he didn’t have the accident. He was there immediately. He’s special. And you know what? He’s a fantastic kid, so positive, so nice. Even if they didn’t pay us to do this, we would still do it for him. “