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Race report
IndyCar Laguna Seca

IndyCar Laguna Seca: Palou beats Herta after Corkscrew pass

Second IndyCar win of the year for reigning champion Alex Palou after perfectly executed flat-out strategy in caution-ridden, chaotic race at Laguna Seca

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Perry Nelson / Motorsport Images

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou fended off Colton Herta on a late restart to claim victory in IndyCar's Grand Prix of Monterey at Laguna Seca on Sunday.

The Spaniard, who started on pole, successfully defended the top spot after a restart with four laps to go, winning by 1.978s over Andretti Global driver Herta.

“It was a chaotic race,” Palou said after his second win of the season, having previously won on the Indianapolis Road Course in May.

“The strategy was a bit risky for the position we were in, but we knew we had the pace and just had to execute.

“It was fun, too much intense at the end with those restart, but overall an amazing win.”

Joining Palou and Herta on the podium was Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi in third.

Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Romain Grosjean and Andretti Global’s Kyle Kirkwood finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Palou led the field to the green flag but it was fellow front row starter Kirkwood who drove it deep into the corner and hung tough on the outside of Turn 2, which set up a switchback to take the lead on the inside entering Turn 3.

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Global Honda, start

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Kyle Kirkwood, Andretti Global Honda, start

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

While much of the field got through the opening lap cleanly, Will Power’s tough weekend of off-track adventures continued; he went off in Turn 4 while battling AJ Foyt Racing’s Santino Ferrucci and Ed Carpenter Racing rookie Christian Rasmussen, with his Team Penske car dropping 10 spots from his starting position of 15th as a result.

Despite having the lead, Kirkwood couldn’t break away from Palou, with the gap staying between 0.2-0.6s until he pitted on lap 26 and switched from the harder primary tyres to a new set of softer alternates.

Palou opted to pit on the next lap but remained on the primary compound. While Palou was diving to pit lane, Christian Lundgaard endured an off-track moment in Turn 9, hitting signage that stuck on his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing entry's front wing.

When the first round of pit stops cycled out, it was Rossi making the most of an undercut of pitting on lap 24 and jumping from fourth into the lead. By lap 32, the California native, running on new alternates, held a 5.2s lead over Kirkwood.

Through the initial cycle of pitstops, the overcut hurt Palou, who came out fourth behind Rossi, Kirkwood and Herta. Additionally Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, who was pressing to make up for a lowly qualifying effort of 14th, was handed a drive-through penalty by Race Control for improper exit, having gone off at pit out after his lap 26 stop.

Dale Coyne Racing’s Luca Ghiotto then went off at Turn 4 and pounded the tyre barrier, bringing out the first caution on lap 35.

As the window for the next pit stop opened up during the caution, Rossi and half of the field opted for service but Palou stayed out and assumed the race lead.

Ganassi’s Scott Dixon caught the kerbing coming to pitlane and hit the outside pitwall – lightly damaging his front wing – while also getting tagged lightly from behind by Penske’s Scott McLaughlin. Of the 13 drivers that pitted, Herta came out ahead while also swapping to the primaries, ahead of Rossi on used alternates and Kirkwood on primaries.

Colton Herta, Andretti Global w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Colton Herta, Andretti Global w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Palou led the field to the green flag on lap 40, while second-place man Pato O’Ward came under fire from Grosjean.

In a similar move to Kirkwood at the start, Grosjean drove deep on the outside of O’Ward into Turn 2 and took the runner-up spot with the inside pass going into Turn 3.

A second caution came out moments later after Arrow McLaren’s newly-signed rookie Nolan Siegel spun and stalled in Turn 2.

The race resumed on lap 43, with Palou holding Grosjean at bay into Turn 2 before quickly extending a gap of over 1.2s.

Palou stretched the lead out to a 3.8s lead over Grosjean by lap 48, while O’Ward opted to pit and handed third over to Meyer Shank Racing’s David Malukas, who pitted the next lap.

Grosjean pitted from second on lap 55, swapping from primaries to fresh alternates. Palou dove in for service the following lap and also took fresh alternate tyres, which handed the lead to the early-stopping Herta.

He headed Rossi, with Palou coming out third ahead of Kirkwood in fourth after 56 laps, with all within 4.7s of each other. McLaughlin ran fifth, followed by Power and Dixon.

The runner-up spot changed hands on lap 62 after Palou made a pass on the inside of Rossi in Turn 2, with Palou moving to within 0.3s of Herta moments later.

Palou hounded Herta for the lead before making an inside pass for the race lead into the Corkscrew on lap 64. The lead for Palou widened to 3s over the next two laps.

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

Kirkwood and Dixon dove to pitlane on lap 67, opting for the undercut. Kirkwood selected primaries, while six-time IndyCar champion Dixon took used alternates.

Herta fell to 6s behind Palou before returning to the pit lane on lap 68, switching to primaries, with Rossi also pitting and coming out behind his former team-mate on used alternates.

Palou was called to pit lane on lap 71 by strategist Barry Wanser and elected to swap from the alternates to used primaries. Grosjean, elevated to second in the pit cycle, followed Palou in and took primaries.

Lundgaard gave a hip check to Marcus Armstrong in Turn 4, which sent him off course. Armstrong’s attempt to save it brought him back across the track and nearly led to a massive collision with Graham Rahal. Fortunately, the incident only resulted in the New Zealander stalling on the inside of corner and brought out the yellow flag.

This aided Newgarden, who was running second trying to stay out and overcome the early penalty as the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner returned in second with new primaries.

Palou therefore led Newgarden, Herta, Rossi and Grosjean to the restart with 17 laps to go. But this gave way to chaos when Penske team-mates McLaughlin and Power collided while battling for sixth. McLaughlin spun, eventually retiring from the race after a stop, while Power faded down to ninth.

Moments later, Lundgaard blew through the Corkscrew and caught some air, receiving a penalty for track limits and falling to 22nd. Meanwhile, Newgarden dropped wheels in Turn 6 and fell from second to fifth.

A caution returned on lap 83 after Jack Harvey parked his Dale Coyne Racing car on the front straight near the pit exit with smoke billowing from his Honda engine.

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Colton Herta, Andretti Global w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda, Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, podium

Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, Colton Herta, Andretti Global w/ Curb-Agajanian Honda, Alexander Rossi, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, podium

Photo by: Perry Nelson / Motorsport Images

Palou led Herta to the green flag restart with 10 laps to go, the Spaniard making a poor exit from Turn 11 but clinging to his lead.

Three laps later came another yellow as Ganassi rookie Kyffin Simpson spun out of Turn 5 while running 13th. This left Rahal with nowhere to go as he pounded the side of Simpson’s car.

The race resumed with four laps to go, Palou making a clean getaway this time from Herta, who was under fire momentarily from Rossi.

Newgarden found trouble again at Turn 6, spinning from fifth and nearly stalling before gathering it back up and keeping the race under green flag conditions. He dropped to finish 19th.

Palou held serve to the finish, with Herta and Rossi collecting the other podium spots.

IndyCar Laguna Seca Race Results

Cla Driver # Laps Time Interval Mph Pits Points Retirement
1 Spain A. Palou Chip Ganassi Racing 10 95


2 United States C. Herta Andretti Global with Curb-Agajanian 26 95



1.9780   3    
3 United States A. Rossi Arrow McLaren 7 95



2.5356   3    
4 France R. Grosjean Juncos Hollinger Racing 77 95



0.3107   3    
5 United States K. Kirkwood Andretti Global 27 95



3.8525   3    
6 New Zealand S. Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing 9 95



0.4736   3    
7 Australia W. Power Team Penske 12 95



0.8460   3    
8 Mexico P. O'Ward Arrow McLaren 5 95



0.6250   3    
9 United States S. Ferrucci A.J. Foyt Enterprises 14 95



0.3811   3    
10 Sweden M. Ericsson Andretti Global 28 95



0.6373   3    
11 Sweden F. Rosenqvist Meyer Shank Racing 60 95



1.0690   3    
N. Siegel Arrow McLaren
6 95



0.4217   3    
C. Rasmussen Ed Carpenter Racing
20 95



1.2465   4    
14 Brazil P. Fittipaldi Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 30 95



0.3771   5    
15 Denmark C. Lundgaard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 45 95



0.3203   4    
16 United States D. Malukas Meyer Shank Racing 66 95



3.4265   4    
17 Sweden L. Lundqvist Chip Ganassi Racing 8 95



1.6714   6    
18 Argentina A. Canapino Juncos Hollinger Racing 78 95



3.3724   4    
19 United States J. Newgarden Team Penske 2 95



3.7121   4    
R. Robb A.J. Foyt Enterprises
41 94

+1 Lap


1 Lap   3    
21 New Zealand S. McLaughlin Team Penske 3 93

+2 Laps


1 Lap   7    
22 New Zealand M. Armstrong Chip Ganassi Racing 11 93

+2 Laps


16.4817   4    
23 United States K. Simpson Chip Ganassi Racing 4 86

+9 Laps


7 Laps   3   Accident
24 United States G. Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 15 86

+9 Laps


1.0288   4   Accident
25 United Kingdom J. Harvey Dale Coyne Racing 18 82

+13 Laps


4 Laps   3   Mechanical
26 Netherlands R. van Kalmthout Ed Carpenter Racing 21 72

+23 Laps


10 Laps   4   Mechanical
27 Italy L. Ghiotto Dale Coyne Racing 51 34

+61 Laps


38 Laps   1   Accident


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