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Ganassi files civil action lawsuit against his champ Palou

In a statement from the legendary team, for whom Palou scored a 14th IndyCar drivers’ title last year, Ganassi stated: “Alex Palou is under contract with Chip Ganassi Racing through the end of the 2023 season. He is a valued member of our team, and we will continue to support him in chasing wins, podiums, and INDYCAR championships.

“As the result of a competing racing team improperly attempting to contract with him notwithstanding the clear terms of our contract, we are proceeding to legal process pursuant to the contract.

“Any and all inquiries on the matter will be handled by our legal counsel.”

The summons, filed by Marion County Court, is directed to Alex Palou Montalbo and ALPA Racing USA, LLC, and must be responded to with 20 days after receiving the summons on July 26.

In addition, in a separate court document, “plaintiff Chip Ganassi Racing, LLC, by counsel, respectfully requests a prompt hearing on its Motion for Preliminary Injunction. Plaintiff estimates two hours would be sufficient for the hearing, and requests that it be set before the end of August.”

Among the evidential exhibits in the public domain are the tweets sent out by Palou, by McLaren Racing and the press release from McLaren, all on July 12.

That day Chip Ganassi Racing put out a release stating that it had taken up its option on Palou’s services for 2023, the driver having signed a two-year-plus-one-year-option contract toward the end of his rookie season with Dale Coyne Racing.

The statement contained a quote from team owner Chip Ganassi, stating: “Alex’s track record speaks for itself. He’s a proven champion and one of the most formidable drivers in the world. We are very excited to continue working together.”

However, it also contained a quote supposedly from Palou.

“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 1, and I’m excited to continue working with Chip, [CGR managing director] Mike Hull, the folks on the #10 NTT DATA Honda and everyone within the organization. The goals remain the same and we will continue to work slowly towards achieving them.”

Later that day, Palou hit Twitter, stating: “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 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.”

Within minutes, further fuel was added to the flames when McLaren tweeted: “Hi Alex! McLaren Racing welcomes #INDYCAR champion @AlexPalou to its driver roster since 2023, as the team continues to build talent across all of its racing series. Our full driver line-up across all racing series will be confirmed in due course.”

The Arrow McLaren SP twitter account quoted that tweet, adding “Welcome to the McLaren Racing family, Alex Palou.”

A McLaren Racing press release stated: “Alongside his racing duties next year, Palou will also test with the McLaren F1 Team as part of its 2021 MCL35M F1 car testing program with fellow drivers Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta.”

Palou said: “I’m extremely excited to join the driver roster for such an iconic team as McLaren. I’m excited to be able to show what I can do behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car and looking at what doors that may open.

“I want to thank everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing for everything they have done for me.”

Zak Brown, McLaren CEO commented: “We have always said that we want the best talent at McLaren, and it’s exciting to be able to include Alex on that list. I’m also looking forward to seeing him get behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car as part of our Testing of Previous Cars (TPC) program alongside Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta as we continue to build our driver talent.

“Alex is an incredibly talented driver who has won in every series he has raced in, and I’m happy to welcome him to the McLaren family.”

Palou currently lies sixth in the championship, just 44 points behind championship-leading teammate Marcus Ericsson with five rounds to go and over 250 points still available.

Arrow McLaren SP, which is expanding to three cars in 2023, currently has incumbent Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi under contract for next year. Felix Rosenqvist is being retained by McLaren Racing, but he has told Motorsport.com he is “in limbo” regarding in which series he’ll race.

McLaren CEO Brown told Motorsport.com that the marque will not be commenting on the lawsuit, while Palou himself has not yet responded on the matter.

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