Palou sees off Lundgaard and McLaren trio for emphatic Indianapolis GP win


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With flawless driving and a perfectly judged strategy from his Chip Ganassi Racing pit wall, Alex Palou prevailed to win the Indianapolis Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course on Saturday afternoon.

Pole-winner Christian Lundgaard led the field into turn one at the start of the 85-lap race, which kicked off the famous Month of May at Indianapolis. Palou started directly behind him on a set of alternate tyres, and put that grip advantage to good use by taking the lead in the final corner complex.

There was a short interruption at the start when Dale Coyne Racing team mates Sting Ray Robb and David Malukas collided in turn seven, causing the only full course caution of the race. Robb was too eager in trying to defend his position from Romain Grosjean and walloped the left-rear of Malukas’ car.

From the moment the race restarted, many expected the race to favour the softer alternate-compound tyres. But as the first stint developed, it became apparent that the harder primary compound tyres would be the ones to go with over a long green-flag run. That became apparent as Lundgaard began to close down what had been a five-second deficit to Palou, before the 2021 IndyCar Series champ pitted on lap 18. Lundgaard pitted two laps later, and rejoined behind Palou after the first pit cycle.

Now with Lundgaard on the softer tyre, the RLL driver re-took the net lead within four laps. As the stint ran long, again, the alternate compound tyres fell off rapidly towards the end. Palou re-took the lead on lap 42.

Lundgaard came in at the end of that lap, and a crucial tactical miscue saw him take on another, used set of alternate tyres, while Palou’s pit wall put him on primary tyres to the end of the race – first on lap 43, and again at lap 60.

When these stops were finished, Palou was leading by around ten seconds, and all the young Spaniard had to do was reel off a mistake-free stint to claim his fifth career IndyCar Series win – all on permanent road courses – and his first at the storied “Brickyard”.

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Palou’s victory was also important as it propelled him to the lead of the IndyCar Series drivers’ championship, heading into Indianapolis 500 time trials next weekend.

Pato O’Ward was boxed into having to run a fresh set of alternate tyres to the end of the race. While two stints on alternate tyres didn’t work for Lundgaard’s pursuit of victory, it did work to the Mexican’s advantage as he finished in second. O’Ward holds onto second in the championship standings with this result, six points behind new points table leader Palou.

McLaren Indy put two of its three challengers on the podium as Alexander Rossi took his first IndyCar podium with his new team in third – he had a blistering start, went for the alternate tyres on his final stint and it worked in his favour.

Lundgaard slipped behind Rossi and had to hold on to consolidate fourth place. It was Lundgaard’s best finish of 2023, indicative of better days ahead for the struggling Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team – but also, a missed opportunity for a first career win. Felix Rosenqvist, who shared the front row with Lundgaard, recovered from a scruffy start to join his two McLaren team mates in the top five, despite running out of fuel at the chequered flag.

Scott Dixon finished in sixth place, and Josef Newgarden plugged on to a seventh place finish. Marcus Ericsson slipped to third in the championship after finishing eighth.

Colton Herta came home in ninth place using the predicted strategy, which became the alternate strategy as the race progressed. He had to fight off tyre wear and a stuck anti-roll bar to finish inside the top ten, ahead of Graham Rahal, who finished in tenth after first-lap contact with Kyle Kirkwood put him off-sequence for much of the race.

Grosjean took 11th, while Will Power was spun after contact with Kirkwood and recovered to hold his 12th starting position. Scott McLaughlin had to pit for fuel on the last lap and dropped to 16th, not what he wanted to follow up his win in the Alabama Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Two drivers, Simon Pagenaud and Santino Ferrucci, had problems in the pits and stopped with loose wheels. Pagenaud dropped out of the race as a consequence. Ferrucci’s car was able to be recovered and the wheel was secured, but he lost five laps in the process. His team mate Benjamin Pedersen lost six laps after he lost radio communication before the green flag.

Indy 500 practice begins this Tuesday, while the first day of time trials begins Saturday, 20 May.

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Indianapolis Grand Prix race results

110Alex PalouGanassiHonda
25Pato O’WardMcLarenChevrolet
37Alexander RossiMcLarenChevrolet
445Christian LundgaardRLLHonda
56Felix RosenqvistMcLarenChevrolet
69Scott DixonGanassiHonda
72Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
88Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
926Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
1015Graham RahalRLLHonda
1128Romain GrosjeanAndrettiHonda
1212Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
1321Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
1427Kyle KirkwoodAndrettiHonda
1511Marcus ArmstrongGanassiHonda
163Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
1729Devlin DeFrancescoAndrettiHonda
1877Callum IlottJuncos HollingerChevrolet
1920Conor DalyCarpenterChevrolet
2030Jack HarveyRLLHonda
2178Agustin CanapinoJuncos HollingerChevrolet
22106Helio CastronevesMeyer ShankHonda
2314Santino FerrucciFoytChevrolet
2455Benjamin PedersenFoytChevrolet
2560Simon PagenaudMeyer ShankHonda
2618David MalukasCoyne/HMDHonda
2751Sting Ray RobbCoyne/RWRHonda

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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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  • 6 comments on “Palou sees off Lundgaard and McLaren trio for emphatic Indianapolis GP win”

    1. I’ve been watching all the races this season (not just the 500 as I used to do) because of Canapino. I’m surprised at how little info they give you on the telly. Appart from gaps and push-to-pass left, why can’t they also put a marker showing which tyre the drivers are currently using?

      It’s hard to follow this sometimes… and the timing has a life of it’s own, sometimes the gaps change drastically for no reason…

      Small detail on an otherwise great product. So sad the grandstands are empty most of the time!

      1. CD (@clipperdael)
        14th May 2023, 15:19

        The graphics leave quite a bit to be desired imo. Current tyre choice and number of pit stops for each driver would be really helpful, I think.
        The timing graphics in the qualifying session could be much clearer, too. I don’t know if others like them but to me the constantly updating gaps in the timing tower are just a chaotic mess and half the time I need to decide between looking at the action on track or following the changes in the tower. If I try to do both at the same time I end up getting sort of overwhelmed and not really taking in either. I’d much rather they followed the traditional three-sector timing.

      2. The graphics change regularly and show tire usage. The commentators talk about tire types regularly also. For whatever reason the GP has never been greatly attended, and being in IMS makes it look smaller as the place holds 400,000 people. The grandstands will be full in a couple of weeks for the 500.

        1. I didn’t see the compounds in any of the graphics. The commentators talk about some of the drivers but not all, plus you need to be paying attention at the time.

          The americans are fascinated by stats, you see it in other sports. But with indycar there’s very little info on screen during the race.

      3. I don’t know why, but in yesterdays race they rarely showed the compounds, but in the previous one they did it suffiently.

      4. The graphics need a major overhaul especially for qualifying where it can be almost impossible to follow.

        I do wonder if NBC viewers get more graphics than World Feed viewers. A couple of time yesterday the NBC team were talking about stats being showed on screen that we weren’t able to see.

        In terms of the attendance there was around 50,000 in on Saturday, it looks empty because it’s IMS, but that’s a good attendance for the Indy GP and it did look noticeably busier than previous races.

    Comments are closed.