SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Alex Palou was dominant under a cloudy sky at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Saturday as he cruised to a win in the GMR Grand Prix.
Palou, who rolled off third when the green flag dropped, was given a brilliant strategy by his team in a race where the tire strategy would be extremely delicate to how any of the drivers performed.
“We knew we had a fast car since practice,” Palou said. “We were struggling on the red tires in the warm-up so that’s what we went Black, black, black. We went for it and we’re happy.”
The race also saw a solid performance from the whole Arrow McLaren team which had all three drivers finish in the Top 5. Pato O’Ward scored his third runner-up finish this season with Rossi coming home third on the podium. Felix Rosenqvist finished 5th.
“Hats off to them (Palou) they were extremely strong,” O’Ward said. “For us, we were 2,3, and 5 as a team. That’s pretty freakin phenomenal. We were just trying to bring home some solid points. I know our win will come.”
Christian Lundgaard led the field to the green flag after a good day qualifying on Friday, but Lundgaard would not lead the first lap as Palou quickly showed his competitiveness passing Lundgaard at the end of Lap 1.
The rest of the race relied on timing, especially on strategy. Palou made the decision to start on red tires, which were faster but tended to fall off quicker than the slower black tires.
Lundgaard started on the blacks thus having to fulfill his red requirement later on in the race.
Through all three pit stops, Palou stayed on the black tires after his opening stint on reds, while building a massive 10-second lead at one point over the rest of the field.
The win for Palou is his first since his season-ending win at Laguna Seca last September. He is also the fifth different winner in the NTT IndyCar Series this season. Palou also takes over the points lead on the season jumping from 3rd to 1st in overall. O’Ward keeps the 2nd spot 4-points back and previous points leader Marcus Ericsson dropped to 3rd after a 9th place finish Saturday.
“The speed was amazing, and the strategy went really smooth,” Palou said. “We’re going to try and keep the championship and hopefully get a second (win), but now we start thinking about the big one.”
It was a bad weekend for Team Penske and Andretti Autosport, both of which finished no better than 7th place with Josef Newgarden overcoming clutch issues during practice and qualifying. There was a noticeable lack of pace from Will Power and Scott McLaughlin.
Drivers will stay put at IMS as they gear up for the biggest race of the season. Practice for the Indianapolis 500 will begin on Tuesday (5/16).
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