NEWS & RACES
Palou has Strong Run in St. Petersburg to End His Rookie Season
Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh driver Alex Palou’s rookie season came to end on Sunday with a strong run in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in which he placed himself 13th after running in the lead pack.
Starting 16th, Palou fell to 19th at the start of the 100-lap race but had made it back up to 15th by the time he entered pit lane for his first stop of the day on Lap 28. Then, with a full course caution less than 10 laps later, Palou and his #55 Guaranteed Rate team opted for a different strategy and pit again on Lap 38.
With multiple full course cautions over the next 15 laps, and finding himself at the back of the field, Palou headed down pit lane twice. Once for fuel only on Lap 46 and again on Lap 51 for fuel and a fresh set of Firestone Alternate tires.
Palou found himself in 16th place when the race resumed on Lap 53 and steadily moved up as other cars pitted. By the time another full course caution came out on Lap 70, Palou was up to third. The rookie then moved into second place on the Lap 75 restart before another full course caution.
The Spaniard then went for the lead on the Lap 80 restart, taking over first place before getting passed by eventual race winner Josef Newgarden.
Following another full course caution, Palou was running fifth at the restart, where he remained until having to make one final pit stop for fuel on Lap 94. The Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh driver would go on to take the checkered flag in 13th.
“We didn’t have a good start because I made a mistake staying in our fuel saving map, so that sent us back a few spots. It’s so difficult to overtake here so as soon as the yellow came out, we gambled a bit with our strategy. At the end of the day it didn’t work out, but it was the right thing to do, I think we needed another yellow to be able to finish in the top five with our Guaranteed Rate Honda. We did the best we could today. I’m sad that it’s the end of the season,” shared Palou. “Looking back, there were some good moments and some not so good moments. I think it was a tough season in general with the limited practice to learn the tracks and understand the car, but it was a great learning experience that will hopefully help for the future.”
Palou ended up second in the Rookie of the Year standings and 16th in the overall Championship points.
Team Owner Dale Coyne shared his thoughts on the season for both Palou and Santino Ferrucci (Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan): “It’s been a good year for the team. I think both of our drivers have increased their stock. For Alex (Palou) it was tough this year coming here with no testing, not knowing any of these tracks, no extra rookie days and short weekend schedules. It was very tough for him. As for Santino (Ferrucci), he continued to impress, so we’re happy with both guys and the job they did this year.”
The Dale Coyne Racing team now looks forward to start working on the 2021 season.