Start, IndyCar, Laguna Seca, 2024

Palou passes Herta in Corkscrew to win incident-packed race


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Alex Palou scored his second win of the IndyCar season in fine style, emerging on top of a lively race at Laguna Seca.

The Ganassi driver opted against joining many of his rivals in making an early second pit stop when the Safety Car was deployed. That allowed him to lean harder on his fuel and pick off his rivals for the lead – first Alexander Rossi at the Andretti hairpin, then Colton Herta into the Corkscrew.

However it wasn’t a straightforward run to the chequered flag from there as a series of incidents prompted further interruptions in the final third of the race.

Marcus Armstrong caused another caution period with 20 laps remaining after he was tipped into a spin by Christian Lundgaard at turn four. The Ganassi driver returned to the track at speed and was almost hit by oncoming cars as Armstrong spun to a halt.

Alex Palou, Ganassi, IndyCar, 2024
Palou kept his cool through a series of restarts
Race control delayed the deployment of the Safety Car until all drivers had the chance to pit, which promoted Josef Newgarden to second place. This was a huge break for the Penske driver, who lost time earlier in the race with a drive-through penalty for a pit exit violation.

When Palou expressed concern about the appearance of the Indianapolis 500 winner in his mirrors, he was told: “They handled it like they usually do by waiting for everyone to pit.” But he didn’t have to worry for long, as Newgarden ran wide at turn six soon after the race resumed, dropping to fifth.

This restart was painful viewing for Penske, as their two other cars collided, Scott McLaughlin’s car getting away from him at turn six, leading to contact with Will Power. McLaughlin retired soon afterwards with damage.

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Jack Harvey’s retirement with an apparent engine problem caused another interruption. Palou’s car almost got away from him at the final corner at this restart, and Herta took a look at the outside line for turn one before backing down.

Chaos broke out at turn six again, however, as Agustin Canapino made light contact with Kyffin Simpson’s left rear, sending him into a spin which Graham Rahal could not avoid. The RLL driver made heavy contact first with the spinning Ganassi, then the unprotected barrier on the right, and though both emerged uninjured a lengthy clean-up operation was needed.

The race finally resumed for good with five laps to go and Palou led the field to the flag. Herta took second ahead of Rossi and Romain Grosjean, who improved on his best result for Juncos Hollinger for the second race in a row.

Newgarden ensured his good fortune was entirely squandered when he spun fifth place away on the penultimate lap. That promoted Kyle Kirkwood, who led the opening stint of the race after brilliantly passing Palou around the outside of the Andretti hairpin at the start.

Scott Dixon came home third ahead of Power. Seventh place was a superb recovery effort for the driver who also fell to last on the first lap after being forced off-track. Pato O’Ward took eighth ahead of Santino Ferrucci and Marcus Ericsson, the latter having been off twice.

Palou’s win gives him the championship lead after eight of 17 rounds. It also marked the end of an era for IndyCar, for when the field reconvenes at Mid-Ohio in two weeks’ time they will have hybrid power.

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Race result

P. No. Driver Team Engine
1 10 Alex Palou Ganassi Honda
2 21 Colton Herta Andretti/Curb-Agajanian Honda
3 7 Alexander Rossi McLaren Chevrolet
4 32 Romain Grosjean Juncos Hollinger Chevrolet
5 22 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Honda
6 9 Scott Dixon Ganassi Honda
7 12 Will Power Penske Chevrolet
8 5 Pato O’Ward McLaren Chevrolet
9 13 Santino Ferrucci Foyt Chevrolet
10 23 Marcus Ericsson Andretti Honda
11 29 Felix Rosenqvist Meyer Shank Honda
12 6 Nolan Siegel McLaren Chevrolet
13 25 Christian Rasmussen Carpenter Chevrolet
14 24 Pietro Fittipaldi RLL Honda
15 27 Christian Lundgaard RLL Honda
16 30 David Malukas Meyer Shank Honda
17 8 Linus Lundqvist Ganassi Honda
18 33 Agustin Canapino Juncos Hollinger Chevrolet
19 2 Josef Newgarden Penske Chevrolet
20 26 Sting Ray Robb Foyt Chevrolet
21 3 Scott McLaughlin Penske Chevrolet
22 11 Marcus Armstrong Ganassi Honda
23 14 Graham Rahal RLL Honda
24 4 Kyffin Simpson Ganassi Honda
25 16 Jack Harvey Coyne Honda
26 18 Rinus VeeKay Carpenter Chevrolet
27 28 Luca Ghiotto Coyne/WR Honda

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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3 comments on “Palou passes Herta in Corkscrew to win incident-packed race”

  1. Nice headline, brought me back to 1996 :-)

  2. Palou is really, really good! So smooth and precise he makes it look easy. He would have been something in a decent F1 car. I wonder if Grosjean will ever get a win? He was close to the podium. I hope it happens this season.

  3. @marcusaurelius – Same here. The Pass

    Still dreaming for a race at Laguna Seca with F1. Dreaming…

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