Palou: Only chance to win is by being aggressive

Alex Palou will start the Grand Prix of Monterey from fourth. Picture: Chris Owens

IndyCar Series leader Alex Palou says he won’t change his aggressive attitude despite holding a 25-point lead in the title race.

Just two races remain in 2021, this weekend’s Grand Prix of Monterey the penultimate event in the 16-race season.

The Spaniard has been a force to be reckoned with this year.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver won the opening race of the season at Barber Motorsports Park before claiming victories at Road America and Portland International Raceway.

Podium finishes were forthcoming on both the road course- and oval-configured Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Belle Isle Street Circuit, and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

However, bad luck has at times dogged the 24-year-old, who briefly lost the lead after an engine failure at Indianapolis and a crash at Gateway.

Palou will start the Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca from fourth, just ahead of championship combatant Pato O’Ward of McLaren SP.

The sophomore driver said he won’t be changing his aggressive approach in tomorrow’s race to win the 2021 crown.

“We need to win that one,” said Palou after qualifying.

“We know we have a good car in the race. In Q3 maybe we had the pace enough to get the pole.

“We know we can fight tomorrow for the race. It’s going to be exciting with the tyre deg[radation]. Lots of strategies going on.

“We go for the win and we’ll try to bring that victory home.

“Some drivers you can trust, some others you cannot. It depends on who we’re racing we’ll take one approach or the other.

“The only chance that we have to win the race is by being aggressive. That’s what we’re going to do.

“That’s what we’ve been doing all year and it’s been working. We’re not going to change that.”

Palou will have O’Ward immediately behind him on the grid for tomorrow’s 90-lapper.

The Mexican spun on his final flying lap, resulting in the 22-year-old having his fastest lap stripped.

Nevertheless, the McLaren SP pilot was happy to make it through to the final leg of qualifying after a troubled practice session.

“This was our maximisation,” said O’Ward.

“The best we did in practice was 20th just because we were all over the place. We didn’t really have the balance correctly.

“I’m happy with sixth. Fifth obviously would have been better, but I was pushing just to try and get every ounce out of the car.

“We made it to the Fast Six, which seemed like a long haul for us going into qualifying, but we accomplished it.

“I’m happy with the changes we made. Now we need to make the race car go faster and see what we can do in the race.”

The Grand Prix of Monterey will get underway tomorrow at 05:00 (AEST).

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