Alex Palou pips Herta to win chaotic Laguna Seca IndyCar race

Alex Palou pips Herta to win chaotic Laguna Seca IndyCar race

Alex Palou secured his second victory of the season after winning IndyCar’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou outlasted his rivals through a clever strategy call at Laguna Seca to win Sunday’s NTT IndyCar Series’ Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.

Palou demonstrated his impressive racing skills on the final laps as he held off an aggressive challenge from Andretti’s Colton Herta. The CGR driver crossed the finish line only 1.9 seconds ahead of his rival, with Alex Rossi of Arrow McLaren rounding out the podium.

However, Palou’s quest to victory was not completely straightforward, and he actually lost the lead at the start of the race when Kyle Kirkwood was able to get the better of him in the first set of corners. He lost even more ground on the overcut during the first set of pit stops.

A series of incidents prompted further interruptions in the final third of the race. With twenty laps to go, Marcus Armstrong triggered another caution period when Christian Lundgaard slammed him into a spin at turn four.

The Ganassi driver came flying back into the track, narrowly avoiding getting clipped by passing cars as Armstrong spun to a stop. However, Race control delayed the deployment of the Safety Car until all drivers had the chance to pit, which promoted Josef Newgarden to second place.

This was a huge break for the Penske driver, who lost time earlier in the race with a drive-through penalty for a pit exit violation. Palou expressed concern about the appearance of the Indianapolis 500 winner in his mirrors, but he didn’t have to worry for long, as Newgarden ran wide at turn six soon after the race resumed, dropping to fifth.

The restart went sideways for Penske, as their two other cars collided, Scott McLaughlin’s car getting away from him at turn six, leading to contact with Will Power with the former soon retiring with damage.

Palou held off Herta on the lap 86 restart, while Rossi and Grosjean were pursued by Newgarden, Kirkwood, Dixon, O’Ward, Power and Ferrucci. However, the fifth caution didn’t take long in coming – lap 87, in fact.

See also  Marcus Ericsson parts ways with Ganassi to join Andretti

At Turn 5, Kyffin Simpson was nudged by the Juncos Hollinger car of Agustin Canapino and it was enough to deflate the Ganassi car’s left-rear tire and send him into a spin. Broadside across the track, he was struck hard by Graham Rahal, who had earlier dodged a bullet by swerving around Armstrong’s spinning car, but this time was eliminated on the spot.

The caution, and the reduced number of green-flag laps alleviated Herta’s fuel worries. The race restarted with four laps to go, and while fairly subdued, Palou easily pulled clear of Herta, who in turn dropped Rossi.

Grosjean came under pressure from Newgarden, while Kirkwood and Dixon followed. Power passed O’Ward on lap 93, and then locked sights on Dixon. However, on the penultimate lap, he was gifted another spot when Newgarden again ran wide at Turn 6, and half-spun, dropping to 19th.

Palou ran out the win by 2s over Herta, with Rossi, Grosjean and Kirkwood completing the top five.

Dixon came home sixth ahead of Power in seventh place which was a superb recovery effort for the driver who also fell to last on the first lap after being forced off-track. Pato O’Ward took eighth ahead of Santino Ferrucci and Marcus Ericsson.

Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, Laguna Seca IndyCar Race Results

1Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi RacingHonda
2Colton HertaUSAAndretti GlobalHonda
3Alexander RossiUSAArrow McLarenChevrolet
4Romain GrosjeanFRAJuncos Hollinger RacingChevrolet
5Kyle KirkwoodUSAAndretti GlobalHonda
6Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi RacingHonda
7Will PowerAUSTeam PenskeChevrolet
8Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLarenChevrolet
9Santino FerrucciUSAA.J. Foyt RacingChevrolet
10Marcus EricssonSWEAndretti GlobalHonda
11Felix RosenqvistSWEMeyer Shank RacingHonda
12Nolan SiegelUSAJuncos Hollinger RacingChevrolet
13Christian RasmussenDNKEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet
14Pietro FittipaldiBRARahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda
15Christian LundgaardDNKRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda
16David MalukasUSAMeyer Shank RacingHonda
17Linus LundqvistSWEChip Ganassi RacingHonda
18Agustin CanapinoARGJuncos Hollinger RacingChevrolet
19Josef NewgardenUSATeam PenskeChevrolet
20Sting Ray RobbUSAA.J. Foyt RacingChevrolet
21Scott McLaughlinNZLTeam PenskeChevrolet
22Marcus ArmstrongNZLChip Ganassi RacingHonda
DNFRinus VeekayNLDEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet
DNFKyffin SimpsonCYMChip Ganassi RacingHonda
DNFJack HarveyGBRDale Coyne RacingHonda
DNFLuca GhiottoITADale Coyne RacingHonda
DNFGraham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda

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