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Alex Palou at Portland

Source: Karl Zemlin/Penske Entertainment / Karl Zemlin/Penske Entertainment

PORTLAND, Ore. — For the second time in three seasons, Alex Palou is the champion of North America’s top open-wheel racing series.

Palou and his Chip Ganassi team executed a fast strategy that moved him to the front of the field at Portland on Sunday as he won the Grand Prix at Portland.

All Palou needed to secure the season championship was to finish on the podium. Instead, Palou decided to take the top spot on the podium as he beat out Felix Rosenqvist and Scott Dixon down the stretch.

“It’s been an amazing season,” Palou said. “We just had fast cars everywhere, and we’ve been able to maximize our results even on the bad weekends, and to finish here at Portland with a win feels amazing.”

Palou started 5th, one spot behind his teammate Dixon, who himself was still in contention for the championship at the start of the race. Palou was able to move quickly to third on a bunched-up start of the race behind polesitter Graham Rahal and Scott McLaughlin.

Palou started on the black tires and was able to build up a sizeable delta after Rahal and McLaughlin had to pit before him. He lasted several laps longer on his more durable tires and because of that build-up, he inherited the lead.

With fast pit stops from there on out, Palou never surrendered the lead throughout the rest of the race as he cruised to the win.

It doesn’t come without some controversy though. As Palou exited the pits on his second pit stop, he cycled out in front of Helio Castroneves. In an effort to avoid being caught up in lapped traffic, Palou appeared to block Castroneves, but there was no action taken by IndyCar.

Outside of that, Palou was smooth sailing to the end claiming his 9th career IndyCar Series win, his sixth this season. The title is also the 15th in the history of Chip Ganassi Racing.

“It was honestly one of those races where I knew we had everything we needed to win the race, that we had something else that could separate us from our competitors,” said Palou. “It was true, and we were able to maximize it.”

With the championship secured, the final race of the season at Laguna Seca next week will be specifically for bragging rights as drivers look ahead to next season. It will also be the final race for any drivers looking to keep their rides for next season to prove they should keep them.