Sonsio GP | IndyCar Race | Álex Palou strikes during pit cycle to take commanding victory in Indianapolis

Photo credit: Penske Entertainment - Karl Zemlin
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The only race on the IMS Road Course started with a bag of mixed tyre selections, and with Álex Palou and Christian Lundgaard leading the field to green. Braking for turn 1 Palou outbrakes himself, giving Lundgaard the opportunity to pass for the lead. Further back Rinus VeeKay gets tapped by Pietro Fittipaldi, causing lots of cars to take evasive action. Three turns later it’s Marcus Ericsson who sends teammate Colton Herta into the gravel.

Alexander Rossi dives to the inside of two cars in turn 10 but all goes well, rounding up the action in lap 1. In lap 2 VeeKay passes Linus Lundqvist, while Agustín Canapino hits Kyffin Simpson on the main straight, slightly damaging his front wing.

Santino Ferrucci battles with Ericsson and Romain Grosjean, making the Frenchman go wide in turn 12, giving Ericsson option to get back on Ferrucci. Theo Pourchaire pushes Felix Rosenqvist wide, putting both Meyer Shank-drivers in last two spots.

Fittipaldi is seen as the culprit for the chaos at the start, and has to drop back to behind VeeKay, as Marcus Armstrong passes Pato O’Ward. More penalties follow as Ericsson is penalised for his first lap antics against Herta and he has to drop back behind his teammate.

In lap 8 Tom Blomqvist is the first to pit, dropping the Briton in clean air. Ericsson passes Ferrucci again, and Scott McLaughlin finally passes Christian Rasmussen. Rosenqvist is the next one to stop in lap 11 and Herta follows two laps later, followed by miultiple drivers yet another lap later.

Blomqvist and Rosenqvist prove the undercut can be powerful, as both drivers have passed multiple rivals and no longer are in the last two places. O’Ward’s strategist seems to recognise this, as he enters the pits in lap 17, followed by Will Power a lap later, both getting rid of the harder compound.

Teammate Josef Newgarden does the opposite, as he switches from the red to the black-walled tyres. The Penske-driver is followed by the leaders, Scott Dixon and Veekay. Power almost gets ahead of Palou at the rejoin, and completes the job in turns 7 and 8, promoting the Ozzy to virtual second.

Graham Rahal is the current leader for Rossi and Fittipaldi, all three opting to go longer. Herta makes an opportunistic pass on VeeKay in turn 13, almost clipping the #21, but he is denied by the Dutchman. Herta completes the pass in turn 1, but not without some contact.

After the stops have cycled through Lundgaard is still in front, while Blomqvist is the greatest mover so far. He does his best however to negate that advantage as he outbrakes himself into turn 7, mowing the lawn and losing a few spots.

VeeKay, who is having an abysmal second stint, enters the pits for the second time after just 9 laps, and it’s a slow one at that, dropping him a lap down. The car is let off the jack before the right rear was fastened.

More up front Rahal is moving forwards, while Arrow McLaren stablemates O’Ward and Rossi are scrapping for seventh place just behind him.

Newgarden is the next one to stop, getting rid of the primary tyres who brought him nothing but a drop in the order. Blomqvist in the meantime served a drive through penalty for a pitlane infringement, dropping him a lap down as well. Newgarden’s stop triggers the next round of pitstops, as Herta and Kyle Kirkwood enter the pits.

As Lundgaard is being held up by the backmarkers it is Power who goes on the attack by pitting first. Lundgaard follows a lap later, giving the lead to Palou on the harder compound. Being held up by Ericsson Power cannot make an overtake attempt on Lundgaard, keeping the Dane in virtual first.

Palou stops another lap later but does make the overcut on Lundgaard, demoting the Rahal Letterman Lanigan-driver to virtual second. The Catalan driver immediately pulls away from Lundgaard, but his progress halted by Grosjean, who still needs to pit.

So Palou leads after the second round of stops, followed by Lundgaard, Power and Dixon. The intensity of the race backs down a little, letting all the strategies play out for a bit. All cars try to reach lap 60 to be safe in terms of fuel, except for VeeKay, who has to stop early after his disastrous second stint. Unfortunately he gets an additional drive through penalty for a pitlane violation.

Ferrucci is the first one to retire in lap 57 with a mechanical issue, in a race where there have been no cautions thus far. Closing in on lap 60 Lundgaard closes in on Palou as the car of the latter intermittently blows little puffs of smoke, although the lap times do not show any issues so far.

Herta is the first one to make his final stop, and the drivers up front follow a lap later. Power leapfrogs Lundgaard for second, but otherwise the sequence remains the same. Armstrong and McLaughlin extend a little, but aren’t in the battle for the lead.

As McLaughlin stops for his final stop the caution comes out for the stranded Dale Coyne-car of Luca Ghiotto. The Italian spins in turn 10, stalls his engine and needs the safety crew to get back going again.

With a little over 15 laps to go the field goes back to green, and Palou is immediately pressured by Power, but the Chip Ganassi-driver stays ahead. Herta and Rossi have a little scrap for seventh, as Palou tries to extend his lead again.

In the back Newgarden almost get’s pushed into the pit wall by Jack Harvey, hitting the Briton, and in the subsequent braking zone Rasmussen outbrakes himself. The result: a broken wing for Newgarden and some flat spots for Rasmussen.

With 10 laps to go Palou has his comfortable lead almost reinstated, having a 2.7 second lead over Power, and it seems that nothing will be stopping the reigning champion. Little happens in the remaining five laps, meaning Palou wins the Sonsio Grand Prix in dominant fashion. Power is second for Lundgaard, Dixon and Armstrong. The lucky McLaughlin finishes sixth, Herta seventh and Rossi eighth. Rahal’s strong run stranded in ninth, whereas Rosenqvist capped off a decent recovery with tenth.