IndyCar: Putting Alex Palou’s points lead into perspective

Scott Dixon and Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, Will Power, Team Penske, IndyCar (Photo Credit: Mansfield News Journal)
Scott Dixon and Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing, Will Power, Team Penske, IndyCar (Photo Credit: Mansfield News Journal) /

Sunday’s race on the streets of Toronto marks seven weeks since Alex Palou most recently competed in and failed to win an IndyCar race.

Aside from being run into in the pits during the 107th running of the Indy 500 back in late May, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou has been as flawless as it gets in the NTT IndyCar Series since the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course race in mid-May.

Palou has won three races in a row and four of the last five, and he has been P1 on five of the last six on-track, points-paying weekends if you include Indy 500 qualifying weekend, when he scored the pole position with the fastest four-lap average pole speed in Indy 500 history.

His three-race win streak has seen a 20-point lead in the championship standings over teammate Marcus Ericsson turn into a 110-point advantage over teammate Scott Dixon.

As a result, the gap from second to 13th place in the IndyCar standings is narrower than the gap from first to second.

While 110 points separate Palou and Dixon, 104 points separate Dixon and 13th place Felix Rosenqvist of Arrow McLaren.

Between Dixon and Rosenqvist are Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden (-116), Ericsson (-122), Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward (-127), Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin (-148), Team Penske’s Will Power (-151), Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi (-161), Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta (-173), Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard (-183), Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood (-200), and Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean (-210).

That list, including Dixon and Rosenqvist, accounts for 12 of the 24 full-time drivers not named Alex Palou.

DraftKings Sportsbook, which is now offering fans an instant $150 (no promo code required) just for signing up and placing a single $5 bet, lists Palou as a prohibitive -1000 favorite to win this year’s championship (full odds here). You can effectively boost those odds with a guaranteed instant $150 win on just a $5 bet.

Of course, we have seen large deficits closed at the top before. In 2020, Dixon led Newgarden by 117 points with six races remaining on the schedule, and Newgarden closed the gap to 16 points by the end of the season, beating Dixon in each of the season’s final six races.

Despite the fact that Dixon didn’t finish outside the top 10 during that stretch, he lost 101 points of his lead because Newgarden got hot.

So a 110-point lead is far from insurmountable with eight races remaining on the schedule, and you certainly have to believe that somebody such as Dixon or Newgarden is more capable of overcoming that kind of a deficit than somebody such as Grosjean or Rosenqvist, who are well down the standings — despite being closer to Dixon than Dixon is to Palou.

Still, the fact is that there is currently a 12-driver group in a closer battle for second place in the championship standings than the battle for the top spot.

And that speaks to the dominance of Palou, who has beaten Dixon in eight straight races, despite the fact that Dixon has just one finish outside of the top seven during that stretch. That in itself is something that had been unheard of throughout the six-time champion’s career.

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The Honda Indy Toronto is set to be shown live on Peacock from Exhibition Place beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET this Sunday, July 16. It is the lone Peacock exclusive on the 2023 IndyCar schedule.