May 11, 2024 | By IndyCar

Palou Launches May Mission with Sonsio Grand Prix Victory

Photo by IndyCar photo

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Alex Palou capped a perfect start to the Month of May by winning the Sonsio Grand Prix on Saturday from the pole on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Two-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Palou drove his No. 10 DHL Chip Ganassi Racing Honda to a 6.6106-second victory over the No. 12 Verizon Business Team Penske Chevrolet of fellow two-time series champion Will Power. It was his second consecutive win in this event on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course at IMS, which leads into the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on the 2.5-mile oval.

“It was an amazing win,” Palou said. “It’s great to be back-to-back from last year, and we’re going to continue this May. A win helps a lot, especially if it’s a pole and a win and the way we won it. We’re going to celebrate, for sure, but we’re going to switch this afternoon our focus to the big one.”

Practice for the 108th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge starts Tuesday, with PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying next Saturday and Sunday. Race Day is Sunday, May 26.

Spaniard Palou earned his 10th career victory and first points-paying victory of the season, as he also won the non-points The Thermal Club $1 Million Challenge in March. He also took the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship lead by 12 points over Power, who finished second for the third time in four races this season.

“It’s what was available to us,” Power said of the runner-up finish. “Yeah, you do get sick of finishing second. Oh, my God. You’re just racing very tough people, and if you’re not exactly perfect, you won’t win. I wasn’t exactly perfect in qualifying, and I didn’t win.”

Christian Lundgaard took the lead from Palou on Lap 1 of the 85-lap race but ended up third in the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for his best finish this season.

“We needed a little luck today,” Lundgaard said. “I think we did everything we could in the first two stints to make sure the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda had a shot. Palou really deserved it today.”

Chip Ganassi Racing took three of the top five spots, as six-time series champion Scott Dixon finished fourth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda and Marcus Armstrong was fifth in the No. 11 IU Simon Cancer Center Honda. The Ganassi team has won the last three road races at IMS, as Palou repeated as winner of this event and Dixon won the Gallagher Grand Prix last August.

Colton Herta, who entered this event with the points lead, rallied from the 24th starting spot to finish seventh in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda fielded by Andretti Global with Curb-Agajanian despite being hip-checked off track by his teammate Marcus Ericsson early in the race. Herta fell to fourth in the standings, 25 points behind Palou.

Lundgaard took the lead in Turn 2 of the opening lap – one of a record 13 lead changes for this event – and stayed out front until making his first pit stop on Lap 19 along with Palou, who was running second after Power made his first stop on Lap 18.

That set the stage for a three-way tactical fight that was as much about strategists and pit crews as drivers for the rest of the race.

The decisive stops took place at the end of the second stint. Power dove into the pits late on Lap 39, attempting to undercut leader Lundgaard, who pitted on the next lap in reaction to Power’s surprise early stop.

It appeared Power, charging down the front straightaway on hot Firestone Firehawk tires, might jump Lundgaard when Lundgaard exited the pits on Lap 40. But the No. 28 Delaware Life Honda of Ericsson was between Lundgaard and Power, letting Lundgaard keep the advantage.

Meanwhile, Palou stopped on Lap 41 on an overcut strategy and left the pits ahead of Lundgaard. When the rest of the field cycled through its stops, Palou found himself out front on Lap 45 and steadily increased his gap over Lundgaard.

“I did a mistake on that start, lost our first position that we fought so hard for in qualifying,” Palou said. “But everybody on the crew, engineers and the mechanics did an amazing job in the pits, and we just had to try to get the performance we had all weekend in the No. 10 DHL Honda car.”

Most of the 27-car field made its final stops between Laps 62-65. Palou cycled into the lead for good on Lap 65, but his rivals got one more chance to pass him when the only caution period of the race was triggered on Lap 66 by rookie Luca Ghiotto’s spin in Turn 10 in the No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing Honda.

But Palou pulled away on the restart on Lap 68 and put the pedal to the metal to secure the victory. He turned the quickest lap of the race while leading on Lap 72 and never was challenged to the checkered flag.



SONSIO GRAND PRIX RACE RESULTS

INDIANAPOLIS - Results Saturday of the Sonsio Grand Prix NTT INDYCAR SERIES event on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (1) Alex Palou, Honda, 85, Running
2. (3) Will Power, Chevrolet, 85, Running
3. (2) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 85, Running
4. (6) Scott Dixon, Honda, 85, Running
5. (8) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 85, Running
6. (13) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 85, Running
7. (24) Colton Herta, Honda, 85, Running
8. (7) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 85, Running
9. (9) Graham Rahal, Honda, 85, Running
10. (10) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 85, Running
11. (14) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 85, Running
12. (23) Romain Grosjean, Chevrolet, 85, Running
13. (5) Pato O'Ward, Chevrolet, 85, Running
14. (11) Pietro Fittipaldi, Honda, 85, Running
15. (25) Kyffin Simpson, Honda, 85, Running
16. (21) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 85, Running
17. (4) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 85, Running
18. (17) Jack Harvey, Honda, 85, Running
19. (18) Theo Pourchaire, Chevrolet, 85, Running
20. (20) Christian Rasmussen, Chevrolet, 85, Running
21. (15) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 84, Running
22. (27) Sting Ray Robb, Chevrolet, 84, Running
23. (26) Tom Blomqvist, Honda, 84, Running
24. (19) Linus Lundqvist, Honda, 84, Running
25. (22) Luca Ghiotto, Honda, 84, Running
26. (12) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 84, Running
27. (16) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 54, Mechanical

Race Statistics
Winner's average speed: 117.956 mph
Time of race: 1:45:27.2320
Margin of victory: 6.6106 seconds
Cautions: 1 for 2 laps
Lead changes: 13 among 8 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Lundgaard, Christian 1 - 18
Armstrong, Marcus 19
Rahal, Graham 20 - 21
Fittipaldi, Pietro 22
Lundgaard, Christian 23 - 39
Palou, Alex 40
Dixon, Scott 41
Rossi, Alexander 42
Fittipaldi, Pietro 43
McLaughlin, Scott 44
Palou, Alex 45 - 61
Armstrong, Marcus 62 - 63
McLaughlin, Scott 64
Palou, Alex 65 - 85

NTT INDYCAR SERIES Point Standings: Palou 152, Power 140, Dixon 127, Herta 127, Rosenqvist 107, McLaughlin 88, O'Ward 88, Kirkwood 86, Lundgaard 84, Rossi 78, Armstrong 76, Rahal 71, Lundqvist 68, Grosjean 68, Ericsson 63, Ferrucci 63, Newgarden 61, Simpson 60, VeeKay 58, Canapino 48, Harvey 47, Fittipaldi 45, Blomqvist 41, Pourchaire 38, Rasmussen 32, Robb 31, Ilott 19, Ghiotto 14, Braun 10, Siegel 10

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