Palou pulls away to repeat Indy GP and regains points lead

MICHAEL MAROT Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Alex Palou’s first title at the Indianapolis Grand Prix fueled his second IndyCar Series title run.

He hopes another dominant victory on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will produce a similar result – perhaps even a more monumental victory in two weeks.

The Spaniard beat his two best challengers off the pit line at his final stop on Saturday and outsmarted three-time race winner Will Power on the race’s only restart to beat Power in the brick meter of 6.6106 seconds.

Christian Lundgaard finished third, more than eight seconds behind Palou on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile course.

“It’s tough but it’s one of those races where you’re not really limited on tires so you can just go hard,” he said. “I would say that last year we had a lot more advantage than this year, but I would still say that the fact that we could go 100%, pushing in every lap, maybe that’s why that we see bigger differences.”

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For Palou, it was another highlight of his fifth season in IndyCar.

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Spaniard Alex Palou (10 years old) leads the pack at the start of Saturday’s IndyCar Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Darron Cummings, Associated Press

The 27-year-old led a race-record 39 of 85 laps, taking his 10th career victory, his first official victory this season and his first victory since becoming a father in December. Of course, he also wished his wife, Esther, a happy Mother’s Day.

Palou won the March All-Star Exhibition Race, giving Chip Ganassi Racing three victories in the last four IndyCar events, and he became the first consecutive Indy GP winner since Power in 2017 and 2018.

The win also put Palou at the top of the season standings, 12 points ahead of Power, with the biggest race of the season to come.

Power earned his 31st career finalist spot, sixth all-time. But the Australian from Team Penske has still not won a race since June 2022.

But he was at a significant disadvantage with two team members – strategist Ron Ruzewski and engineer Robbie Atkinson – each serving a two-race suspension for a cheating scandal. And yet David Faustino, who made the calls Saturday, still had Power in the lead until Power’s worn red tires wore out during the final stint of the race.

“I just didn’t get enough on that restart,” Power said. “I had to take my foot off before the last corner, I just had too much push. I had to lift, otherwise it would have been an interesting battle in turn 1. I didn’t know if I should go for the inside or outside, but he succeeded.” It was very clear he was going to blow the inside, so I went to the outside.”

It was the second year in a row that Palou dominated the race, although he didn’t come close to matching last year’s margin of victory of nearly 17 seconds.

Still, he had more than enough to withstand Power’s final strong challenge and then spent the rest of the race building up his lead.

“He had the shortest first gear, so his restart was a little better than mine,” Palou said of his decision during the restart. “I saw it coming and I had to defend. I didn’t want to give up the advantage.”

Danish Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Lundgaard led 35 laps.

Two of Palou’s teammates – six-time series champions Scott Dixon and Marcus Armstrong – round out the top five. This was Armstrong’s career best result.

“I think Alex was fast today. He was fast here last year, in May and August,” Lundgaard said. “He’s really fast everywhere we go.”

The mistake

Power defended his team after the race against the cheating scandal that led to a series of penalties for Team Penske.

Reigning Indy 500 champion Josef Newgarden was stripped of his season-opening victory, Scott McLaughlin was stripped of his third place in St. Petersburg, all three drivers were stripped of 10 points and fined $25,000 and the Newgarden and Power strategist and engineers were fined $25,000. suspended.

“When you’re a big team like Penske, people definitely like to blow it up and make a big deal out of it, even if it was just a mistake,” said Power, who was cleared. “It was actually a mistake. I know, I was testing when the software was installed.”

File a complaint

Colton Herta fell from first to third in points after qualifying 24th and finishing seventh. And even though he was the biggest player of the day, he wasn’t happy with his Andretti Global teammate Marcus Ericsson. Herta made these thoughts known during the post-race interview broadcast on the show.

“Your teammate is leading the championship and you’re racing against him. … I don’t know what you’re thinking,” Herta said.

An engine problem

Arrow McLaren’s race day got off to a rocky start when Pato O’Ward’s No. 5 Chevrolet suffered an engine problem during the morning warm-up. The Mexican driver exited the cockpit before the track safety team had to put out a fire in the car, and the crew performed an engine change between practice and the start of the race.

Then, just 17 laps into the race, O’Ward entered the pits. complaining about power and a vibration. Nor was he any happier with the team’s tire strategy at the end of the race. O’Ward finished 13th.


The IndyCar Series hosts its flagship event, the Indianapolis 500, on May 26 at the historic 2.5-mile Brickyard oval. Qualifying begins next Saturday with the six-car pole shootout scheduled for May 19. Bumping will also take place next Saturday with 34 cars vying to fill the traditional 33-car starting grid.