Alex Palou stomps field to win GMR Grand Prix with aggressive tire strategy
INDIANAPOLIS – Alex Palou and his team chose to begin on offense, and the rest of the NTT IndyCar Series field paid the price in the GMR Grand Prix.
Taking advantage of an aggressive strategy by starting on the faster alternate tire, Palou started third but took the lead on Lap 1 with an overtake of pole-sitter Christian Lundgaard in Turn 12 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver was in control from there, leading the final 21 laps for his first victory of the season and the fifth of his IndyCar career (all on road courses). Palou romped to a victory by 13.6228 seconds over Pato O’Ward.
Of the top seven on the starting grid, Palou’s No. 10 Dallara-Honda was the only car to opt for beginning the 85-lap race on the softer alternate red tires that are faster but wear out more quickly.
“What an amazing job by the 10 crew,” said Palou, who entered the race as the top-ranked driver in NBC Sports’ IndyCar power rankings. “Super happy. We honestly knew we had a fast car since (practice) yesterday. Once we knew we were starting on reds, we were going to fight for a win.
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The 2021 IndyCar Series champion also took the lead of the title standings for the first time in a year, leading by six points over O’Ward entering the 107th Indianapolis 500.
Arrow McLaren placed its three Dallara-Chevrolets in the top five with Palou and teammates Alexander Rossi (third) and Felix Rosenqvist (fifth).
“Man, hats off to (Palou and his team), they were just extremely strong today,” O’Ward said after his third runner-up finish this year. “Congrats to Alex and Chip Ganassi. For us, (finishing) two three and five as a team is pretty frigging phenomenal. The guys gave us a great race car.”
Rossi and Rosenqvist earned their best finishes of 2023.
“It’s a huge testament to the organization and a big confidence boost,” Rossi said. “The pace in the car was there today. It’s lovely to drive, just have to find a way to extract a little more performance.”
Lundgaard finished as season-best fourth off his first career pole position, coming up short in his bid to become the second first-time winner this season.
“I’m satisfied with a fourth,” the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver said. “(The car) wasn’t as quick today. There was a point I felt we weren’t going to finish in the top 10, to end up fourth is a win right now. We need to look at the perspective of how great performance-wise we’ve been.”
Palou became the fifth winner in five IndyCar races this season, joining Marcus Ericsson (St. Pete), Josef Newgarden (Texas), Kyle Kirkwood (Long Beach) and Scott McLaughlin (Barber) in the parade to victory lane.
Alex Palou stomps field to win GMR Grand Prix with aggressive tire strategy originally appeared on NBCSports.com