until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


How Palou claimed first win of his latest IndyCar title defence

by Jack Benyon
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Chip Ganassi Racing's IndyCar champion Alex Palou turned pole into victory for the second year in a row at the Indianapolis road course in a tricky race where he was pushed by early race dominator Christian Lundgaard most of the way.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver Lundgaard looked to have the race wrapped up when he nailed a wonderful cutback on Palou at Turn 1 on the opening lap, and then after the second pit stops he got some help from backmarker Marcus Ericsson who held up Will Power up as Lundgaard emerged from the pits and allowed the latter to take the net lead.

Power had tried an undercut which was thwarted by traffic.

During this period Palou stopped last of the leaders and his overcut was enough to jump Lundgaard for the net lead. Traffic just before the previous pitstop had allowed Palou to close in and a combination of his brilliant Ganassi pit crew and his in and outlaps gave him the edge.

After off-sync drivers had pitted to promote Palou back to the lead, his gap was 1.4s and his used soft tyres - even compared to Lundgaard’s new hards - proved much better as he extended the gap.

After the final stop, Palou kept a five-second lead until lap 66 of 85 when Luca Ghiotto’s spin caused a caution.

Power dived to the outside on the restart but couldn’t pass Palou and almost lost second to Lundgaard while making that move, but ultimately the top six ran line astern from that final restart onwards.

Palou bags his first win of the year - just as he did in 2023 before taking pole for the Indianapolis 500 and eventually winning the IndyCar championship - to take the points lead in the process.

Power’s second - his third in four races this season - keeps him in the same position in the championship, while Lundgaard’s podium is his best result of the year.

Long Beach winner Scott Dixon took fourth, with 2023 rookie of the year Marcus Armstrong making it three Ganassi cars in the top five and netting his best IndyCar result yet.

Scott McLaughlin will be counting his lucky stars for the late caution. He’d been caught up in a lap one incident at the first corner and fell towards the back but ran long and was in the pits under the caution, shortening the time lost. He jumped to sixth for an incredibly fortuitous result having started 13th.

Dixon, Armstrong and McLaughlin made it an all-Kiwi fight for fourth as they finished within a second.

Erstwhile points leader Colton Herta delivered a brilliant comeback with an undercut strategy after a foul-mouthed start to the race where an Andretti team-mate crashed into him.

He started 21st after running out of fuel in qualifying, and was dumped off the track at Turn 3 by Marcus Ericsson, who appeared to lose the rear-end sending him into Herta. Ericsson was penalised for it.

“[Expletive] Marcus, [expletive] piece of [expletive] was Herta’s response on the radio.

That will certainly test Andretti’s team chemistry.

Herta fought hard and passed former team-mate Alexander Rossi on the final restart to take seventh.

Herta wasn’t the only driver to deliver radio messages unsuitable for young ears as Romain Grosjean blasted Santino Ferrucci.

Ferrucci had beef with Grosjean coming into the Indianapolis weekend after contact at Barber where he felt Grosjean hadn’t shown enough respect.

The two then banged wheels in Saturday practice this weekend, with Ferrucci flipping the bird at Grosjean over the top of the aeroscreen. Grosjean said the incident was behind him in a pre-race interview but Ferrucci clearly didn’t get the message, dumping Grosjean off at the exit of Turn 12.

“What the [expletive], what the expletive],” said Grosjean. “What can I do guys?”

Grosjean passed the ailing Ferrucci - struggling with broken brake bias - at Turn 7 cleanly just a handful of laps later.

Grosjean ran long stints to the end, passing Pato O’Ward in the final stint to take 12th overall having started 23rd.

Back in the top 10, Felix Rosenqvist finished behind Graham Rahal in 10th - where he started - despite being near last on the first lap.

The Meyer Shank driver was caught up in the lap one melee which sent a number of cars sprawling into the grass, but rebounding brilliantly in another strong race.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks