Palou overhauls Herta to claim third win in last four rounds at Road America

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Just over 24 hours after a heavy crash in the final free practice session before qualifying, Alex Palou took his third win in the last four IndyCar races, overtaking Colton Herta in the final laps to win the Grand Prix of Road America.

From pole position, Herta led much of the race but wasn’t able to build much of a lead after a flurry of early incidents and Safety Car interventions. It seemed Herta was on course for his first win of 2023, as he virtually led for most of the race save for a round of pit stops at the mid-way point.

But the race turned when Herta pitted for the last time at the end of lap 40 of the 55-lap race. That was one lap before his closest pursuers including Palou, who’d run in second for much of the race, and briefly got ahead of Herta after the final Safety Car restart. Herta was able to retain his advantage over Palou on the track, but he needed to save more fuel to the end just to make the finish – let alone hold the lead.

The two leaders ran tail-to-nose for a handful of laps before Palou slipstreamed past Herta into turn one, and grabbed the lead with seven laps to go.

Pole-winner Herta was beaten to victory by Palou
From there, Palou drove off to a 4.5-second margin of victory – following up his dominant wins at the Indianapolis GP and last week’s Detroit GP with a win at Road America. The victory is huge in Palou’s bid for a second IndyCar Series title, as he now leads the championship by 74 points over his Ganassi team mate Marcus Ericsson, who finished in sixth.

Indianapolis 500 winner Josef Newgarden finished in second place, and a much-needed third place was won by McLaren driver Pato O’Ward, to correct course after back-to-back crashes in the Indy 500 and Detroit. O’Ward had a scruffy start compounded by a blocking penalty after he pushed Santino Ferrucci onto the grass on the first lap.

O’Ward had to hold off Scott Dixon, whose fourth place was something of a miracle for the six-time IndyCar champion. Dixon set off the free practice two incident which left Will Power incensed with him yesterday. Dixon could only qualify 23rd just a few hours after the bust-up, but made another signature late-race surge to pick his way into the top 10, and eventually the top five.

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After leading 33 out of 55 laps, fifth place will have felt like a bitter disappointment for Herta, who has now gone more than a year since his last IndyCar victory.

Behind Ericsson, Christian Lundgaard found himself in the wars all day, bumping elbows for prime position but he came home in a solid seventh. Scott McLaughlin authored a great comeback drive of his own, going from 18th to finish eighth – and after spinning out and stalling on the opening lap, Kyle Kirkwood recovered to finish in ninth place. Alexander Rossi completed the top ten finishers.

Palou took his third win in four races
Will Power finished 13th after starting 22nd. While he tried to gain track position with an alternate pit strategy just like Dixon did, his bid for a top 10 finish fell short. He did fare better than another target of his Saturday morning ire, as Romain Grosjean spun off in front of him on lap 12, causing a Safety Car period. Grosjean finished a lap down after a few more off-track excursions, in a painful 25th place.

Another driver who led for a brief period was Ganassi’s Marcus Armstrong, also on an alternate strategy – but he dropped down the order after his penultimate stop on lap 31, and then went off course on the last lap, for a 24th-place result.

There was only one retirement: David Malukas went off course and retired on lap 25, bringing out the Safety Car for a fourth time. The others were for following Kirkwood’s first lap spin, Grosjean’s spin on lap 12 and Jack Harvey who slid off at the final corner before the field got to turn one after the Grosjean Safety Car was withdrawn.

One driver who stayed out of trouble was 2012 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay, who finished 17th in his first race with Ed Carpenter Racing, on the lead lap, after starting 27th and last.

IndyCar returns in two weeks’ time to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, to kick off the second half of the 2023 season.

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Grand Prix of Road America race results

1 10 Alex Palou Ganassi Honda
2 2 Josef Newgarden Penske Chevrolet
3 5 Pato O’Ward McLaren Chevrolet
4 9 Scott Dixon Ganassi Honda
5 26 Colton Herta Andretti Honda
6 8 Marcus Ericsson Ganassi Honda
7 45 Christian Lundgaard RLL Honda
8 3 Scott McLaughlin Penske Chevrolet
9 27 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Honda
10 7 Alexander Rossi McLaren Chevrolet
11 15 Graham Rahal RLL Honda
12 21 Rinus VeeKay Carpenter Chevrolet
13 12 Will Power Penske Chevrolet
14 60 Simon Pagenaud Meyer Shank Honda
15 06 Helio Castroneves Meyer Shank Honda
16 14 Santino Ferrucci Foyt Chevrolet
17 23 Conor Daly Dreyer & Reinbold Chevrolet
18 77 Callum Ilott Juncos Hollinger Chevrolet
19 78 Agustin Canapino Juncos Hollinger Chevrolet
20 6 Felix Rosenqvist McLaren Chevrolet
21 55 Benjamin Pedersen Foyt Chevrolet
22 51 Sting Ray Robb Coyne/RWR Honda
23 29 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Honda
24 11 Marcus Armstrong Ganassi Honda
25 28 Romain Grosjean Andretti Honda
26 30 Jack Harvey RLL Honda
27 18 David Malukas Coyne/HMD Honda

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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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4 comments on “Palou overhauls Herta to claim third win in last four rounds at Road America”

  1. some racing fan
    18th June 2023, 22:54

    Ah, Road America. It’s like the Spa of North America, only not as safe. If only the cars of the 80s and 90s raced there and the track was up to safety standards of the day, then F1 would have been so much better off.

  2. That was a bit of a rough and tumble race with plenty of people pushed off. Guess they had to overcompensate for Detroit.

    Unfortunate for Herta to fade away so much in the last laps, as he had a solid weekend.

  3. I would have liked to have watched the race live, but had to do with the highlights. It looked like a good race. It was nice to see Marcus Armstrong fighting in the top 3 but I’m not sure what happened, they kept him out when everyone else pitted and he lost out big time.

  4. Grosjean spinning/crashing out is becoming like a tradition of some sorts within my group of friends. They follow F1 but not so much Indycar and when I say “grosjean’s out again” it’s like saying “dinner’s ready”. You just know it’s going to happen.

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