Indianapolis, IN - during the INDYCAR Sonsio Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. (Photo by Joe Skibinski | IMS Photo)

Alex Palou capped a perfect start to the Month of May by winning the Sonsio Grand Prix on Saturday from the pole on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Two-time and reigning NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Palou drove his No. 10 DHL Chip Ganassi Racing Honda to a 6.6106-second victory over the No. 12 Verizon Business Team Penske Chevrolet of fellow two-time series champion Will Power. It was his second consecutive win in this event on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course at IMS, which leads into the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on the 2.5-mile oval.

“It was an amazing win,” Palou said. “It’s great to be back-to-back from last year, and we’re going to continue this May. A win helps a lot, especially if it’s a pole and a win and the way we won it. We’re going to celebrate, for sure, but we’re going to switch this afternoon our focus to the big one.”

Practice for the 108th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge starts Tuesday, with PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying next Saturday and Sunday. Race Day is Sunday, May 26.

Spaniard Palou earned his 10th career victory and first points-paying victory of the season, as he also won the non-points The Thermal Club $1 Million Challenge in March. He also took the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship lead by 12 points over Power, who finished second for the third time in four races this season.

“It’s what was available to us,” Power said of the runner-up finish. “Yeah, you do get sick of finishing second. Oh, my God. You’re just racing very tough people, and if you’re not exactly perfect, you won’t win. I wasn’t exactly perfect in qualifying, and I didn’t win.”

Christian Lundgaard took the lead from Palou on Lap 1 of the 85-lap race but ended up third in the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda fielded by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing for his best finish this season.

“We needed a little luck today,” Lundgaard said. “I think we did everything we could in the first two stints to make sure the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda had a shot. Palou really deserved it today.”

Chip Ganassi Racing took three of the top five spots, as six-time series champion Scott Dixon finished fourth in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda and Marcus Armstrong was fifth in the No. 11 IU Simon Cancer Center Honda. The Ganassi team has won the last three road races at IMS, as Palou repeated as winner of this event and Dixon won the Gallagher Grand Prix last August.

Colton Herta, who entered this event with the points lead, rallied from the 24th starting spot to finish seventh in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda fielded by Andretti Global with Curb-Agajanian despite being hip-checked off track by his teammate Marcus Ericsson early in the race. Herta fell to fourth in the standings, 25 points behind Palou.

Lundgaard took the lead in Turn 2 of the opening lap – one of a record 13 lead changes for this event – and stayed out front until making his first pit stop on Lap 19 along with Palou, who was running second after Power made his first stop on Lap 18.

That set the stage for a three-way tactical fight that was as much about strategists and pit crews as drivers for the rest of the race.

The decisive stops took place at the end of the second stint. Power dove into the pits late on Lap 39, attempting to undercut leader Lundgaard, who pitted on the next lap in reaction to Power’s surprise early stop.

It appeared Power, charging down the front straightaway on hot Firestone Firehawk tires, might jump Lundgaard when Lundgaard exited the pits on Lap 40. But the No. 28 Delaware Life Honda of Ericsson was between Lundgaard and Power, letting Lundgaard keep the advantage.

Meanwhile, Palou stopped on Lap 41 on an overcut strategy and left the pits ahead of Lundgaard. When the rest of the field cycled through its stops, Palou found himself out front on Lap 45 and steadily increased his gap over Lundgaard.

“I did a mistake on that start, lost our first position that we fought so hard for in qualifying,” Palou said. “But everybody on the crew, engineers and the mechanics did an amazing job in the pits, and we just had to try to get the performance we had all weekend in the No. 10 DHL Honda car.”

Most of the 27-car field made its final stops between Laps 62-65. Palou cycled into the lead for good on Lap 65, but his rivals got one more chance to pass him when the only caution period of the race was triggered on Lap 66 by rookie Luca Ghiotto’s spin in Turn 10 in the No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing Honda.

But Palou pulled away on the restart on Lap 68 and put the pedal to the metal to secure the victory. He turned the quickest lap of the race while leading on Lap 72 and never was challenged to the checkered flag.


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