IndyCar: 3 drivers who might challenge Alex Palou — and 2 who won’t

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, IndyCar - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, IndyCar - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Alex Palou has opened up a huge lead in the IndyCar championship standings through the first eight races on the 2023 schedule. Can anybody challenge him for the title?

With two consecutive victories and three wins in the last four races heading into this Sunday afternoon’s IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou has opened up a lead in the championship standings that is equivalent to roughly a win and a half.

There are several tracks remaining on the schedule at which he has found recent success, which only strengthens his prospects of winning a second championship behind the wheel of the No. 10 Honda.

DraftKings Sportsbook, which is now offering fans an instant $150 just for betting $5, lists Palou as the -300 favorite to win the title.

Can anybody challenge the 26-year-old Spaniard? Here are three drivers who might be able to make things interesting over the course of the season’s final nine races.

IndyCar drivers who can challenge Alex Palou: No. 1 – Scott Dixon

Point standings: T-4th – 226 (-98)
DraftKings championship odds: +1200

Scott Dixon is listed first here because his resume pretty much speaks for itself when it comes to championship rallies. The six-time champion has twice as many come-from-behind championships to his name with nine races remaining than any other active driver has career championships.

There is not much to say about him other than the fact that you can quite literally never count him out, and the fact that age is just a number.

Dixon overcame a 92-point deficit with nine races remaining in the 2013 season, when he also failed to win a race in the first half. So a 98-point deficit would be a new personal record. That said, he won the 2013 championship by 27 points. That’s a 119-point swing.

Will Power called Alex Palou a “faster Dixon” in the preseason, and that has been about the size of it so far this year. Dixon has quietly put together a championship-caliber season that is largely being overshadowed by that of his teammate. Aside from being run into by Pato O’Ward on the streets of Long Beach, he hasn’t finished lower than seventh place.

Of course, Dixon needs to score more podium finishes and actually win some races to truly be a threat. Fortunately for him, the races coming up mark the sweet spot of his schedule. He has won at five of the next six tracks on the calendar before, including two last season. It’s a tale as old as time; with Dixon, it’s not over until it’s over.