MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Alex Palou of Spain is ready to jump headfirst into the fires of competition in Saturday night’s Genesys 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.
It will be young Palou’s first NTT IndyCar Series race and the first time he has ever raced on an oval and the first time he has ever raced at night.
He will have just one day to figure it out and get acclimated. The Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh rookie hits the track for rookie practice from 1:10 p.m. to 1:40 Eastern Time, followed by a full field practice. Qualifications begin at 5 p.m. with the race televised live on NBC at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
“This weekend will be my NTT IndyCar Series debut, which has been a dream of mine,” Palou said. “It will also be my first oval, first night race and it’s in Texas. Everything to make it a difficult and challenging debut, but I’m looking forward to it. The team has had good cars there in the past so it’s going to be up to me to get up to speed and get comfortable with the car again after three months away.
“We have limited track time, so it won’t be easy for me and the other rookies, but we’ll try to make the best of it. I’ll be the only driver in the field that has never raced on an oval, in any type of car, but I’m ready for the challenge. It would be awesome for Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh if we could come out with a good result as we finally get the season started.”
The 23-year-old driver from Sant Antoni de Vilamajor, Spain, has had challenges getting back into the United States, just as his counterpart at Ed Carpenter Racing, Rinus VeeKay of The Netherlands.
“These last few weeks I was really worried about just getting back to the United States and now that I’m here, I’m even happier and more excited to go racing at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend,” Palou said. “Not only did I make it, but I made it with enough time to prepare properly with the team and the engineers and to prepare myself. To be able to focus on racing and not always thinking about if I’m going to make it or not is a huge relief.”
When COVID-19 hit and forced the shutdown to regular life on March 13, Palou returned to Spain rather than stay in his United States base of Austin, Texas.
“As soon as I knew that we had like two months off, I had nothing in the U.S., so I had nobody here with me. I didn’t even have a sofa or a bed, so I just decided to go back to Spain with the family,” he said. “I knew I had good medical insurance there, so that was one of the most important things that led me to take that decision.
“I knew it was going to be challenging to get back here; I didn’t know it was going to be so hard. It’s been really hard. We’ve been working every day for the last couple of months since I just went back to Spain, but we made it. I have to say IndyCar did an amazing job. I was not able to go by myself or by the help I had in Spain, so if it was not because of the IndyCar team, I would not be here today.”
The young Palou has a very impressive racing resume that includes the Super Formula Championship series in 2019 with TCS Nakajima Racing. He finished third in the standings last year with one victory in seven races.
His supporters struck a deal with Dale Coyne to bring him to IndyCar in 2020.
“I’m super excited to be here in IndyCar and to start again,” Palou said. “I think it’s been hard for everybody but also for the drivers, for the teams, and we just want to get back on track. Super excited to start my first season in IndyCar.
“It’s not the ideal situation to start and to do your debut in an IndyCar, but we’ll try to do our best, learn as much as possible from ovals and just follow what the team has been doing the past couple of years that they’ve been having good results there. I just need to focus on driving and learn as much as possible from the team, other drivers and Santino Ferrucci (his teammate).”