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Palou becomes first Spaniard to win IndyCar championship

Alex Palou had a nearly flawless season. He won three races, was second in the Indianapolis 500 and led the IndyCar standings in 12 of the 16 rounds.
Credit: AP
NTT IndyCar Series winner Alex Palou, center, celebrates with the trophy after taking fourth place in an IndyCar auto race at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Long Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

LONG BEACH, Calif. — Alex Palou closed his smooth and steady second season of IndyCar with an easy Sunday drive to seal his first professional championship. 

Palou finished 4th at the Grand Prix of Long Beach to become the first Spaniard to win a championship in American open-wheel racing. The last champion from a predominately Spanish-speaking country was Juan Pablo Montoya in 1999. 

The 24-year-old had never before won a major title at the professional level but pulled it off with a nearly flawless season driving for Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR). Palou won three races, was second in the Indianapolis 500 and led the IndyCar standings in 12 of the 16 rounds.

“What a race, what a year, what a season,” Palou said. “This team is amazing. I’m super proud to be a part of Chip Ganassi Racing, all our partners. I’m super proud to be a champion and for the opportunity these guys gave me. Dream completed. Let’s get another one now.”

This is yet another championship win for CGR. The team has now won 14 IndyCar Series Championships. Palou, the latest winner, joins other CGR drivers like Scott Dixon, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jimmy Vasser.