Newgarden: Palou is “most complete” of IndyCar’s new stars
While there has been much talk of a youth movement within IndyCar in 2021, as Patricio O’Ward and Rinus VeeKay have become winners in their second full-time seasons in the series, and Colton Herta is again prevailing within the Andretti Autosport team, Newgarden believes it is Palou who is currently the “most complete” of them all.
Palou, in his second IndyCar season and his first at Chip Ganassi Racing, currently leads the championship by a healthy 39 points with six rounds to go, having chalked up two wins and four other top-three finishes.
Newgarden, who scored Team Penske’s first win of the season at Mid-Ohio yesterday said of Palou: “I would give him the highest marks of all the young guys. I think he’s the most complete if you look at it today.
“You look at the young crop. There’s some serious talent in this series from top to bottom, whether it’s young or the middle guys or old guys. Amongst the newcomers and the young generation, he looks to be the full package of everybody.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise to look at what he’s doing. He’s become a good competitor, definitely someone you’re going to have to fight like every other. You have to be better than him and be consistent. I think he gets that.”
Newgarden, who currently lies fourth in the championship, 69 behind off Palou, was asked if to win a third title he needs to focus on beating Alex in all six of the remaining races.
“We’ve just got to be the best version of ourselves every weekend,” said the Hendersonville, TN native. “It sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth. It’s pretty simple. That’s our approach.
“Every weekend is individualized. They all count. Ultimately these next six races are all going to add up to something.
“We don’t have the luxury of room for error. It’s always nice when you do but we don’t. But I don’t think that changes our approach. We’re out there to maximize whatever our potential is every weekend.
“I don’t think we’re just looking at Alex. I think we’re focused on ourselves and what we can do. We need to be strong, but I feel like we need to be strong at all points in any championship.”
Newgarden has led 172 of the last 205 racing laps, but lost the previous two races in the final stages due to strategy (Detroit) and a mechanical gremlin (Road America). On the question of whether he was confident the bad luck would end eventually, he said: “You can’t predict what the racing gods are going to do… It’s like the light is not shining on you correctly for the day. Sometimes it’s a little dark, it doesn’t like you…
“I think the performance has been there. I can’t predict what’s going to happen every weekend, if something is going to go right or wrong. If I look at just the facts of what we’re doing, what’s in our control as an organization, what people are doing around us, everyone’s doing their job.
“We’ve been in the fight literally every weekend. Obviously we had a little bit of a backstepping at Indianapolis. Other than that we’ve been fighting for wins every single weekend.
“It wasn’t bothering me. I knew it wasn’t working out. Of course at some point you keep doing this, of course it’s going to turn around, things are going to shine on us differently.
“Like I said, we’ve been in the fight pretty much every weekend… We need to keep that up. Performance loss is pretty easy to have in this series from one week to another. We have to make sure we’re consistent.”