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The Ganassi-McLaren-Palou Contract Triangle Causes a Silly Season Rampage

The Palou-Ganassi paring will end, shocking the world of INDYCAR racing. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

It’ll be the end of Alex Palou’s run at Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) once the season ends.

He’ll make the move from the team he won the NTT IndyCar Series title with last year, to McLaren Racing beginning in 2023. Thus, causing a massive ripple effect to INDYCAR’s silly season going forward.

Entering Tuesday afternoon, CGR reported they’ve exercised the option of keeping Palou with the organization for a third season in 2023.

The man sitting fourth in points trails teammate, Marcus Ericcson, by 35 points going into Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto. Perhaps sharing some positive feelings about being back in the No. 10 NTT Data Honda.

“It’s a great feeling knowing I’ll be back with Chip Ganassi Racing next season,” Palou said in a press release. “The team welcomed me with open arms from day one, and I’m excited to continue working with Chip, Mike Hull, the folks on the No. 10 NTT DATA car and everyone within the organization. The goals remain the same and we will continue to work relentlessly towards achieving them.”

However, the quote team released wasn’t what it cracked up to be. In fact, it didn’t came directly from Palou whatsoever.

Like Alana confronting his father after Shabbat dinner in the 2021 film Licorice Pizza, Palou had a “why would you do that” moment with the team he’ll no longer call home after the finale at Laguna Seca.

Palou locking up in turn 5 at Road America, a symbol of what came out of Tuesday’s silly season news. (Photo: Logan Skidan | The Podium Finish)

“I have recently learned from the media that this afternoon, without my approval, Chip Ganassi Racing issued a press release announcing that I would be driving with CGR in 2023. Even more surprising was that CGR’s release included a “quote” which did not come from me,” Palou commented on Twitter.

“I did not approve that press release, and I did not author or approve that quote. As I have recently informed CGR, for personal reasons, I do not intend to continue with the team after 2022,” he continued. “This evening’s unfortunate events aside, I have great respect for the CGR team, and look forward to finishing this season strongly together.”

September is slated to be the final month Palou will pilot the No. 10 Honda. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Minutes later, McLaren Racing drove the bombshell announcement home with their confirmation that the 25-year-old Spaniard will join their organization.

“I’m extremely excited to join the driver roster for such an iconic team as McLaren,” said Palou in the McLaren press release. “I’m excited to be able to show what I can do behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car and looking at what doors that may open. I want to thank everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing for everything they have done for me.”

Despite reports of a team official sticking to the press announcement, the Spaniard’s side of the coin is final. Palou’s 2023 racing season won’t include Chip Ganassi Racing.

Palou joins Pato O’Ward, Felix Rosenqvist, Alexander Rossi and Colton Herta among a linty of racers signed with McLaren in some capacity. Both O’Ward and Rossi are confirmed to drive in INDYCAR next season.

Therefore, any confirmation about where Palou and the other McLaren signees from INDYCAR and Formula One will end up next season is unknown. McLaren will announce their driver lineup for those two series along with Extreme E and Formula E, the latter marking their debut in the 2022-23 campaign, at a later date.

For now, driver talent is crucial for McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown, who confirmed he’ll have Palou, O’Ward and Herta pilot a Formula One car.

Herta had spent two days at Portimao in Portugal driving the McLaren MCL35M, the chassis that saw Daniel Ricciardo win at Monza and finished fourth in last year’s Constructors’ Championship.

Palou (second car in line) trailing Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward at Texas. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

“We have always said that we want the best talent at McLaren, and it’s exciting to be able to include Alex on that list,” said Brown. “I’m also looking forward to seeing him get behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car as part of our Testing of Previous Cars (TPC) programme alongside Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta as we continue to build our driver talent. Alex is an incredibly talented driver who has won in every series he has raced in, and I’m happy to welcome him to the McLaren family.”

Between now and 2023, Palou has eight more races with Ganassi’s No. 10 squad. In 25 starts with the organization, he’s won three times, finished on the podium 12 times and of course, won the Astor Cup last September at Long Beach.

The focus for Palou shifts to Exhibition Place, the site of the race in Toronto. He’ll be one of 13 drivers that has never raced there before.

Coverage of the 85-lap race in Canada begins at 3:00 p.m. ET exclusively on Peacock.

Simon Pagenaud won the last race in Toronto three years ago.


Editor’s Notes:

This article has been edited for clarity by Taylor Kitchen.

Throughout my young motorsports media career, my number-one goal is to be a personnel that can be flexible with my writing and photography in the world of NASCAR, INDYCAR and ARCA. Content delivery is vital because this is my main passion and what keeps me going. I've dealt with several challenges in my life, such as autism and making most out of trips despite relying on transportation. Even my quest of finding acceptance in my profession which has been my biggest challenge since graduating from college in 2016. Despite those hurdles with Motorsports Tribune and now The Podium Finish, I promise that you'll see excellence with my content. With two National Motorsports Press Association photography awards, I'm not slowing down anytime soon. Outside of media, I'm super vocal about my musical tastes that goes from Metallica to HAIM. Not only that, expect my social media filled with references nobody will understand, especially Licorice Pizza.

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