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Alex Palou at Road America

Source: Travis Hinkle/Penske Entertainment / 

ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. — Alex Palou may be the hottest driver in motorsports at the moment as he now rides a streak of wins in three of the last four races in North America’s top open-wheel racing series.

Palou and his Chip Ganassi team employed a slightly different pit stop strategy than pole sitter Colton Herta, which allowed him to overtake Herta in the closing laps and drive away for the win in the Sonsio GP of Road America on Sunday.

The win for Palou comes despite a bad crash in practice where the CGR team had to repair the right side of his Honda-powered car.

“We started with a lot of speed,” Palou said. “Big mistake by my part in practice two. We went back on track, and (the car) was even better than in practice two. We’re going to try and keep it rolling. We have an amazing team behind us.”

The race was littered with four cautions in the first 25 laps of the 55-lap race around the four-mile-long road course in the hills of Wisconsin.

Those early cautions for drivers such as Kyle Kirkwood, Romain Grosjean, Jack Harvey, and David Malukas, forced teams to make decisions on pit strategy with so many caution laps being turned and affecting fuel mileage. At around Lap 28, some teams tinkered with the decision of only going on one more stop to the end.

One of those was Colton Herta, who led a majority of the laps in Sunday’s race.

It would end up being a lost gamble with the rest of the leaders having pitted twice in the final half of the race, Herta was forced to save fuel the last 14 laps and had to surrender the lap to Palou with around 6 laps left. Josef Newgarden, who was also in the top five all day, overtook Herta as well to finish second. Pato O’Ward was third.

“I’m conflicted because on the one hand, it was a great recovery for all of us on Team Penske,” Newgarden said. “We started this weekend in pretty bad shape, were really far off the pace. We chipped away at it, did a lot of work. “We had an opportunity today and we weren’t really able to seal the deal.”

Palou credits his team for getting him in the right spot to win with how the race unfolded.

“Everything started moving a lot with those cushions,” Palou said. “But, yeah, we kept on pushing. Great pit stops. (Fought) for the win at the end. Yeah, the speed that we had this weekend was huge and gave us the opportunity to win today.”

Palou now has a 74-point lead in the championship standings over second-place Marcus Ericsson, who finished 6th at Road America. That was a points lead that was around 20 points fewer heading into the weekend.

It’s Palou’s seventh career win in the NTT IndyCar Series and he has also now finished inside the Top 10 in every race this season.

Drivers will have two weeks to prepare for the next race which kicks off the back half of the season at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on July 2nd.