There was a time when Dale Coyne, the Chicago-area former driver whose eponymous team used to be at the less-sharp end of an NTT IndyCar Series grid, would announce his two drivers right before the first practice of the year began. It became a standard joke among the media as to how late Uncle Dale would name his drivers.
That changed several seasons ago when Coyne began to attract new talent that needed seat time to learn the Indy car landscape. He also began to find engineering talent that would accede to life in the nether regions of Illinois rather than at the epicenter of INDYCAR, Indianapolis.
Dale’s first win came courtesy of Justin Wilson at Watkins Glen and that victory resonated throughout the paddock; everyone wants to see a smaller group succeed and it looked like Dale Coyne Racing was on an upward strata. Recently, it’s been Sebastien Bourdais who’s brought home the heavy metal for Dale Coyne Racing.
The seasons change; so do requirements at INDYCAR teams. This upcoming season will be one without Bourdais, without his lead engineer Craig Hampson, without No. 19 lead engineer Michael Cannon. Coyne will regroup; he’s already started.
The team announced a new driver for one of two Dale Coyne Racing Indy cars the week before Christmas, What will now be called Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh brings Super Formula race winner and Rookie of the Year Alex Palou to the team for the upcoming season. The Spaniard will be vying for Rookie of the Year honors on the 17-race campaign.
Coming from an impressive 2019 season, where he finished as top rookie in the Japanese Super Formula Series with TCS Nakajima Racing, Palou earned a single victory, three pole positions – most of any series driver this year – and placed third in that tough championship. He also drove for Team Goh, piloting their McLaren 720S GT3, earning pole position during the last round of Super GT series at Twin Ring Motegi.
“I”m very excited about coming to America to race Indy cars,” the 22-year-old driver from Sant Antoni de Vilamajor said. “I’m grateful for all that have helped me get to this point of my ca’eer, and especially Dale Coyne and Mr. Kazumichi Goh for giving me this opportunity.”
Before his successful 2019 season, Palou raced in the Japan Formula 3 championship, finishing third in the year-end standings on the strength of three wins and five pole position. Prior to landing in Japan, he became the first Spanish driver to win a GP3 race, when he took victory at the last round of his debut, 2015 season with Campos Racing.
Palou started racing karts and made the leap to cars in 2014, placing third in the Euroformula Open championship and second in the Spanish Formula 3 championship before moving to GP3, where he spent the next two seasons. “We’re very pleased to partner with our friend of many years, Kazumichi Goh in this collaborative effort for 2020,” Dale Coyne said of acquiring the services of Alex Palou.
Coyne tested Palou at MId-Ohio Sports Car Course in July and noted, “He impressed everyone. His rise in performance over the past three years shows great promise for the future.” The program came together quickly, as is the custom for Coyne. An extensive testing plan is scheduled for February in preparation for the season opener at St Petersburg, Fla. on March 15, 2020.
Team Goh has a long and storied history in racing, winning the 1996 Japanese Grand Touring Championship (JGTC). The squad became one of the prestigious privateer sports car teams, winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2004 with Seiji Ara, Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello.
“Alex shows great promise and we are all excited to continue our relationship with Alex and to see him progress his career towards in the IndyCar series,” team co-owner Kazumichi Goh said. “It will be an honor to be part of the Indianapolis 500 and we hope to have the same success we achieved at Le Mans, with our overall win thanks to great team collaboration between Alex and Dale Coyne Racing.”
While Coyne hasn’t officially announced the return of Santino Ferrucci, whose rookie season opened many eyes, engineer Olivier Boisson said, during the PRI show in Indianapolis last week, he intends to be the engineer of record for the Connecticut-raised sophomore in 2020. Coyne will release details on its complete 2020 program after the start of the year.