For the third time in the past four races, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou was victorious, this time in the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America on Sunday. The Spaniard returned to victory lane for the second consecutive race, albeit not in dominating fashion compared to Palou’s other wins.
The race began with a caution on the opening lap, as Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood entered Turn 1 carrying excessive speed around the outside. Kirkwood collided with the back of Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward, causing O’Ward to fall back multiple positions.
After the green flag flew once again just a few laps later, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden collided with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard entering Turn 5, causing Lundgaard to go off track. No penalty was assessed to the Indianapolis 500 winner, although one could make the argument that a penalty was necessary.
Just four laps later another incident occurred, surprisingly without a penalty being assessed. Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay spun Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist after seemingly divebombing Rosenqvist while entering Turn 3. A penalty in this situation seemed necessary and justified, but IndyCar decided against punishing VeeKay for his role in the spin.
Three laps after the incident between VeeKay and Rosenqvist, another collision took place, this time by Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean. The former Formula One driver clipped the grass with his left rear tire, causing him to lose control of his No. 28 Honda.
The Lap 12 mistake was Grosjean’s first of many in a race to forget for the French driver. After Grosjean looked to be on the doorstep of his first IndyCar win earlier this season, the Andretti Autosport driver finished 25th Sunday and 24th and 30th in the previous two races, respectively.
After qualifying on the pole position, Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta controlled much of the race. Herta made his last pit stop of the day on Lap 40 – choosing to pit earlier than Palou, who was in the second position at the time.
Palou made his final pit stop on Lap 41 and cycled back to the second position after a brief battle with Herta once exiting the pit lane. In a strange turn of events, Herta was instructed by his team to begin saving fuel to make it to the end of the race.
With the gap between himself and Palou dwindling over the following couple laps, Palou eventually overtook Herta in what ended up being the race-winning pass. After falling back to the second position, Herta ended up losing three more positions to finish the race in fifth.
Although Palou led just 10 laps and wasn’t the dominating car, he found a way to lead the last lap. With his third victory in the past four races, Palou now leads the championship standings by a whopping 74 points over Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson – just eight races into the season.
After his incident with Team Penske’s Will Power during practice on Saturday, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon rebounded nicely Sunday to finish fourth after starting the race in the 23rd position. Although Dixon may be in fifth in the championship standings, trailing Palou by 98 points, Dixon could very well close the gap between the two if Palou later slips up.
The NTT IndyCar Series will have this upcoming weekend off before heading to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Honda Indy 200 on July 2. The race will begin at 1:30 p.m. and will be televised on the USA Network.