Note: The editorial staff at INDYCAR.com is taking a look back at the 10 biggest moments of 2022 in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and INDY NXT by Firestone in this year-end series, with one installment appearing on the site per day in countdown fashion from Dec. 22-31.
Midday on Tuesday, July 12, as the NTT INDYCAR SERIES was preparing for its Honda Indy Toronto weekend, Chip Ganassi Racing sent out a press release announcing stating it had exercised its option to extend the contract of reigning series champion Alex Palou, who would drive for the team in 2023. The sixth paragraph featured a quote from the Spanish driver.
“It’s a great feeling knowing I’ll be back with Chip Ganassi Racing next season. 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 Honda and everyone within the organization. The goals remain the same and we will continue to work relentlessly towards achieving them.”
All seemed well, until it wasn’t.
Shortly after 7 that evening, the following was posted on Palou’s Twitter account.
“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 press release included a ‘quote’ which did not come from me.
“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.
“This evening’s unfortunate events aside, I have great respect for the CGR team, and look forward to finishing this season strongly together.”
Soon after, McLaren Racing issued a statement stating that Palou would drive for the team in 2023, and Palou retweeted it.
“Excited to share the news, and looking forward to a future with @McLarenF1,” Palou wrote.
With tension at an incredibly high level, all eyes were on CGR’s No. 10 car at Toronto. Palou indeed drove it, qualifying 22nd and finishing sixth in the race.
The drama continued through the next couple of months, with Palou repeatedly asked questions about his future and the two teams left to consider alternatives for 2023 depending on the outcome of the legal battle for Palou that ensued.
The matter was settled Sept. 14 when, three days after Palou earned his only win of the season, it was confirmed he would indeed return to CGR in 2023 while being allowed to test with McLaren’s Formula One team and participate in official practices later in the season.