Palou behind the wheel of No. 10 American Legion Honda this weekend in Texas
Photo by Hilary Ott /The American Legion

Palou behind the wheel of No. 10 American Legion Honda this weekend in Texas

Coming off an eighth-place finish in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Alex Palou will again be sharing The American Legion’s “Be the One” veteran suicide-prevention initiative as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES heads to Texas this weekend.

Palou will be driving the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 10 American Legion Honda on Sunday, April 2 in the 250-lap PPG 375 at Texas Motor Speedway. The speedway features 20 degrees of banking in Turns 1 and 2 and 24 degrees of banking in Turns 3 and 4 on the wide racing surface. Palou finished seventh in the PPG 375 last season.

The weekend broadcast schedule (all times ET):

·         Saturday, April 1: practice 9-10 a.m.; qualifications 12:15-1:15 p.m., final practice 1:45-3:30 p.m.

·         Sunday, April 2: race coverage begins at noon.

Four Things to Look For at Texas (via INDYCAR)

1. Round and Round We Go: The PPG 375 will be the first of five oval races on the 2023 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule as well as the 36th INDYCAR SERIES race on the 1.5-mile oval at Texas Motor Speedway. Only Indianapolis Motor Speedway has hosted more INDYCAR SERIES races among current oval tracks. The 28 drivers entered is the most for a race at Texas since 30 drivers were entered for the Firestone Twin 275s in June 2011. And predicting who will wear the cowboy hat and celebrate in Victory Lane is anyone’s guess. Underscoring the competitiveness of the series, there have been 23 different drivers to win the 35 races. With a wide-open field of competitive drivers and teams, will another new winner find his way to take the checkered flag in the race?

2. Dixon Has Been Dominating: Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) is the winningest NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver at Texas Motor Speedway, with five victories, and he has won three of the past six and four of the past nine races there. Dixon has led five of the last six race races, 678 of 1,404 laps in all (48.2 percent). That accounts for him being INDYCAR’s all-time leader in laps led at this oval with 1,043 laps, more than double the number of the active driver in second place. His average finish in all races at TMS is 6.7. But Dixon is not the only active NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver to succeed at TMS. Six other drivers in this field have won at Texas, including Meyer Shank Racing’s Helio Castroneves (No. 06 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda), who won on four occasions with Team Penske. Team Penske teammates Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) and Josef Newgarden (No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet) each have earned two of Roger Penske’s organization’s record 11 victories at the track. Power won in 2011 and 2017, Newgarden in 2019 and 2022. Ed Carpenter (No. 33 Chevrolet) won in 2014, Graham Rahal (No. 15 Fleet Cost & Care Honda) won in 2016, and Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet) won the second race of the 2021 doubleheader. The seven previous winners have combined to win 16 of the 35 previous races at TMS.

3. Texas Ties: Though reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Will Power is from Toowoomba, Australia, the two-time series champion and two-time Texas winner considers TMS to be a home race because his wife, Elizabeth, is from nearby Plano. Power, who claimed his first INDYCAR SERIES oval win at Texas in 2011, is one of several NTT INDYCAR SERIES personalities with ties to the Lone Star State. Pato O’Ward won his first INDYCAR SERIES race at Texas in 2021, but the PPG 375 will also be the only race for the Mexican driver in his adopted home state. O’Ward's family moved to San Antonio when he was 11, and he attended high school there. And Santino Ferrucci drives the famed No. 14 car for Lone Star legend A.J. Foyt and aims to deliver Foyt his first oval win since 2002. Can the Sunnyvale resident take the racing legend’s team – run by TCU graduate Larry Foyt – to victory lane in its home state?

4. Ready, Set, Go To $1 Million Bonus: The PeopleReady Force for Good Challenge returns for a second season, and the PPG 375 will be a chance for Marcus Ericsson (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) to solidify his chances for the prize. The challenge offered by the industrial staffing giant is a bonus of $1 million to be awarded to the first NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver who can win on all three unique style of tracks – street circuits, road courses and ovals – this season. With last month’s victory in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding, Ericsson has checked the street circuit box, and the 2022 Indianapolis 500 winner figures to be strong at Texas after finishing third in last year’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES event. One INDYCAR SERIES driver has won on each type of track in seven of the past eight seasons, 2021 being the exception. In 2022, Josef Newgarden earned the reward, which offers $500,000 shared between the driver and his team and $500,000 presented to their chosen charity. PeopleReady is offering an additional $10,000 to the winner of every race this season, also to be split with their selected charity.