Spanish driver Palou takes IndyCar series title
Spanish driver Alex Palou. File photo
Alex Palou became the first Spaniard in IndyCar history to clinch the season points championship after finishing fourth in Sunday's Long Beach Grand Prix race in southern California.
The 24-year-old is also the second straight Chip Ganassi team driver to win the title and it comes in just his second season driving in IndyCar.
“What a race, what a year, what a season,” Palou said. "I’m super proud to be a champion and for the opportunity these guys gave me. Dream completed."
Palou is emblematic of the youth movement in IndyCar this season as he is the first series champ younger than 25 since Scott Dixon in 2003. He is also the seventh youngest champion in IndyCar history.
"You’re seeing a young man that’s going to set a lot of records in this business, and he’s already starting," said team owner Chip Ganassi. "It has surprised us when he came in the door and the job he’s done. My hat’s off. Congratulations."
Southern California native Colton Herta won Sunday's race after leading in all three practice sessions.
Herta beat runner-up Josef Newgarden to the chequered flag by just .588 of a second for his second straight victory and third this season.
He swept both races in his native California this season and won for the first time at his home race in Long Beach, which he attended as a youth to watch his father, Bryan Herta, race in IndyCar.
“It feels amazing,” Herta said. “This has been on the bucket list for so long. Super happy.”
Scott McLaughlin clinched the Rookie of the Year award to become the first Team Penske driver to earn the honour.