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SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Alex Palou has an 84-point lead in the championship standings heading into the season’s second race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course this weekend.

It’s a lead that is not insurmountable for Josef Newgarden who is second behind Palou in the standings.

Still, Newgarden will need some help from Palou in the sense of a bad result or a wreck at some point in the last four races to make it doable. You may think in that light that Palou may be content to be more conservative, but that’s not so, he says.

“We’re not changing our strategy or the way we race because of the championship standings,” Palou said. “We want to protect the lead, but we also want to increase it. We were aggressive at Nashville because we were going for the win.”

Palou has four wins this year. Three of those wins came in a row throughout the month of June and July. Newgarden also has four wins, all of which have come on each other oval races this year.

It’s also uncertain if this may be the last crack at the championship for Palou as talk of his contract situation begins to take flight.

You may remember last year Palou was entwined in a very public contract dispute involving Chip Ganassi Racing and McLaren Racing. It was eventually worked out that Palou would compete in the full IndyCar season this year with Ganassi while also being a defacto reserve test driver for McLaren.

With four races to go, as you might expect, Palou is staying tight-lipped on his plans for next year.

“We will see once the season is over,” Palou said of his future. “We’re not going to really say anything until the season is done. We’ll have a lot of time to talk about it in the off-season.”

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