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Alex Palou celebrate GP win

Source: Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment / other

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Alex Palou started up front and finished up front in what many describe as a “surgical” performance on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on Saturday.

Palou overcame losing the lead early thanks to flawless pit stops and excellent tire management, leading 39 laps of the Sonsio Grand Prix and winning his 10th career IndyCar race.

“I would say that today the hard part was done by my crew, the No. 10 crew,” Palou said. “My engineers and my mechanics on giving that first position back. And I just had to control from the lead. It wasn’t easy.”

Having earned the pole position the day before after not having a lot of pace in practice, Palou said he surprised even himself that he and his crew were able to start up front. But he did not stay up front in the early going.

Christian Lundgaard, who has been competitive on the IMS road course in recent years, got Palou to make a mistake going into the first turn of the first lap.

“It wasn’t a great start from my side. Did a mistake,” said Palou. “Overshot the braking a little bit and just locked and lost that place, went into the grass a little bit. Wasn’t my best start, but I was just looking forward to getting that back and trying to get the lead back.”

Lundgaard would lead each of the race’s first 23 laps heading into the first round of green flag pit stops. With each driver needing to go three stops to make it to the end of the race, the strategy was all about timing.

Heading into the second round of stops as Lundgaard continued to lead, Palou seized his chance to grab the lead back.

Will Power, who has won on the IMS road course five times in his career, made a surprise dive to the pits to try and undercut Lundgaard for the lead. The strategy appeared to be working, but in a stroke of bad luck Power would end up getting held up by Marcus Ericsson after blending out behind him. This allowed Lundgaard to defend the undercut attempt by Power.

But as that fight played out, Palou dipped into the pits a lap later than both Lundgaard and Power. His pit crew was swift and sure, so sure in fact that Palou was able to jump from fourth to the lead in a success overcut.

Palou never surrendered the lead again, even after the race’s first and only caution came on Lap 65. He also had another ace in the hole as he had an extra set of brand-new red alternate tires at his disposal having saved them from his week of practice and qualifying. That set of reds was called upon for Palou’s final stint.

The late caution for Luca Ghiotto seemingly changed the outlook for the race, but Palou, on his saved reds, had a brilliant restart and pulled away from Will Power who finished second. Lundgaard salvaged a third-place podium result.

“It was just a solid day. Just didn’t quite have enough on that restart. I had to lift coming into the last corner, just had too much push,” Power said. “Just wasn’t far enough along to make it work.”

Another driver who made the most of the day was Colton Herta, who, despite starting 24th after a disastrous qualifying session, made up 17 spots to finish 7th. Herta was able to come away from the day third in the driver’s championship standings behind Power.

Palou, the defending series champion, leaves the weekend as the points leader and now joins the rest of the field in getting prepped for the Indianapolis 500 in two weeks.

The post Palou “Surgical” In 2nd Win In A Row On IMS Road Course appeared first on WIBC 93.1 FM.

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