Alex Palou scores 1st career IndyCar win in Ganassi debut

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Chip Ganassi Racing driver Alex Palou (10) celebrates on Victory Lane after winning the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama auto race at Barber Motorsports Parkway, Sunday, April 18, 2021, in Birmingham, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Fernando Alonso is winless so far this season in Formula One. Same with Carlos Sainz.

Over in IndyCar, though, Alex Palou scored a victory for Spain.

Palou picked up his first career win — in his first race with Chip Ganassi Racing — by holding off a pair of series champions in Sunday's season-opening race at Barber Motorsports Park. The affable 24-year-old raised his fists in the air when he realized he'd reached victory lane before his fellow countrymen, who both raced 5,000 miles away in Italy earlier Sunday.

Palou is only the second Spaniard to win in the IndyCar Series, joining Oriol Servia, who won in 2005 at Montreal.

“It’s just amazing but I think it was part of the job,” he said. “When you are part of a big team and a successful team like Chip Ganassi, they give you all the tools. You have everything you need to win, and that’s why you see so many successful drivers.”

Palou then vowed to find the best fried chicken in Alabama to celebrate his achievement.

“I think that 80% of the drivers will tell you that after a race we need something that is not good for our body and that’s what I’m going to take tonight if I can, fried chicken. And fries. Lots of fries,” he said.

Palou used a two-stop strategy on the picturesque permanent road course to take control of the race but still had to hold off hard-charging Will Power and Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon over the closing laps. He beat Power by .4016 seconds to claim his first win in his first race driving for the storied Ganassi organization.