ELKHART LAKE, WI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou passed Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden on a restart with two laps-to-go to win Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Rev Group Grand Prix at Road America.
The win was Palou’s second of the year, CGR’s fourth of 2021 and third straight at Road America where the team swept both races in 2020.
“Thank you to all the guys on the No. 10 car,” said Palou. “It was amazing. We had a really good car during the race. We were able to overtake him before the corner. I’m super happy and super proud of this Chip Ganassi Racing Team. I can’t believe it!”
The drama unfolded after the final caution flag of the race flew for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan’s Ed Jones, who had a left rear failure on the No. 18 Sealmaster Honda.
On the ensuing restart Newgarden led the field up the hill to the green flag but shortly after passing the start/finish line Newgarden’s Hitachi Chevrolet lost forward drive and began to slow allowing Palou to pass Newgarden before turn one.
Newgarden continued to fall through the field eventually dropping to the last car on the lead lap where he had to settle for a 21st place finish.
“I couldn’t get it to shift into sixth gear,” said Newgarden. “And then I got it stuck in fifth in turn one and finally got it to go down, but just could not get it to upshift after that. So I got it down to first essentially. Just trying to stay out of the way after that because I couldn’t get it to upshift after that. I’m not sure what happened. Obviously it’s disappointing for all of us. I know we had a great car. We had a good car all day and were doing everything we had to do. We were surviving the yellows. Surviving the fuel game. We had a rocket ship.”
Palou knew the restart was going to be critical so he was doing everything he could to stay as close to Newgarden’s gearbox as possible.
“I was on my Push-to-Pass, and as soon as I saw I was in fifth gear and I saw I couldn’t get him, I saved my Push-to-Pass, and as soon as I saw that there was something weird, like I was getting a lot of tow I thought, I pressed it again and said, oh, wow,” said Palou. “So I didn’t really see if he had an issue or not. Obviously I saw later, but at that moment I just thought, oh, wow, we had a lot of power
Palou meanwhile put the hammer down and crossed the finish line 1.9106-seconds ahead of Andretti Autosports Colton Herta who finished second.
“I think we had third place pace and that was where we were going to finish until Josef had that problem”, said Herta. “Car felt really good. Guys did an amazing job in the pits to gain me a few spots on track and put us on the podium in the second spot.”
Team Penske’s Will Power finished third and could empathize with Newgarden as Power saw victory slip from his grasp last week in Detroit when his car wouldn’t start, while leading, following a red flag.
“Man, you just don’t know what it is about our team right now,” lamented Power. “We almost have a win in the bag and something just ridiculous happens, like just something that — I don’t know what it was, but things that you couldn’t prep for, something that you couldn’t avoid. It’s like my thing was just a switch, just a weird glitch in the system in Detroit, and I don’t know what his was this time. But yeah, unbelievable.”
Palou’s CGR teammate Scott Dixon started 13th and methodically worked his way up through the field to finish in fourth place.
The victory allowed Palou to regain the Championship points lead by 28-points over Arrow McLaren SP’s Patricio O’Ward. Dixon, who is battling for a record-tying seventh title is lurking 53-points back in third place. Newgarden’s troubles left him fourth in points, 88-points behind Palou.
The next NTT INDYCAR SERIES race is the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on the 4th of July.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou Wins NTT INDYCAR SERIES Championship
LONG BEACH, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – In just his first year with the team Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou is your 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion.
Palou’s 4th-place finish in Sunday’s season-ending Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach guaranteed the 24-year-old native of Spain his first INDYCAR Championship in his second season and the Ganassi team their 14th title since 1996.
“This team is amazing,” said Palou. “I’m super proud to be a part of Chip Ganassi Racing, all our partners. I’m super proud to be a champion and for the opportunity these guys gave me. What a race, what a year, what a season.”
“People win Championships,” said team owner Chip Ganassi. “The driver, the team, and especially the people behind the scenes, leaving the shop in the winter when it’s dark out and snowing, that don’t get the notoriety.”
Palou started the race in tenth position in the No. 10 NTT Data Honda. Palou’s closest Championship rival, Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, started the race in eighth position. Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden started on the pole position with Palou’s CGR teammate Scott Dixon alongside in second place in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda.
Newgarden took the lead in turn one with Dixon in tow as the field took the green flag. The race wasn’t even 2-laps old when Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan’s Ed Jones made an ambitious attempt to pass James Hinchcliffe, but made contact with O’Ward with Palou right behind Jones!
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O’Ward brought out the caution flag a short time later on lap 20 when the right rear driveshaft failed on the front stretch.
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The caution flag shuffled the field as some cars went to pit road for service while other cars stayed out to gain track position, giving the lead to Helio Castroneves, who took a turn at the front of the field until he went to pit road on lap 34, giving the lead to Colton Herta.
Herta earned his turn at the front as he was making moves through the field throughout the race and following the last restart, it was Newgarden and Dixon giving chase. Palou was behind Dixon in fourth doing what he needed to get the car to the checkered flag in one piece.
Herta pulled away in the end to a .5883-second victory, his ?? win of 2021. Newgarden finished second to jump O’Ward for second in the Championship, 38-points behind Palou.
Dixon finished third followed by Palou in fourth. Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud rounded out the Top 5.
Alexander Rossi, Jack Harvey, Sebastian Bourdais, Takuma Sato and Will Power made up spots 6 through 10.
Honda claimed the Engine Manufacturer’s Championship for the fourth straight year.
Josef Newgarden wins pole position for INDYCAR Acura Long Beach Grand Prix
LONG BEACH, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is on the pole position for Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES season-ending Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Newgarden’s fast lap of 1-minute, 8.2241-seconds around the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street circuit was .2181-seconds faster than Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon’s best lap in the No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda.
The pole position and valuable Championship point is exactly what Newgarden needs to do to win his third series title. Newgarden enters the race in third position in the standings, 48-points behind leader Alex Palou, and must win, lead the most laps and hope Palou finishes 25th or worse.
“It’s very improbable for us to win this championship,” Newgarden said. “So, our goal is to win the race tomorrow. Let’s finish our season on a high note, and we’ll see what happens. I think it’s pretty unlikely, but you never say never in this sport.”
The only other driver with a shot at the Championship is Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward, who will start eighth in the 28-car field. O’Ward also needs to win and hope for Palou to finish 25th or worse.
“Our car has been good,” said O’Ward. “We didn’t roll off the best, but I think we made some really good changes, just kept improving. We had enough for the Fast 6.”
Palou will start 10th in the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Palou and O’Ward were on flying laps when they were forced to slow for a local yellow for Will Power, costing both valuable lap time which eventually cost both the ability to advance to the final round of knockout-style qualifying.
“That yellow flag didn’t help us at all,” said Palou. “I think we were going to be easy through, but racing stuff, right? I’m happy because the car’s good, a bit better than yesterday and this morning.”
“Kind of sucks to get hosed by a very odd call,” added O’Ward. “We should have been in the Fast 6.”
Palou must finish 12th or better – or 13th or better if he leads a lap – to clinch his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship and CGR’s 14th title since 1996!
Live coverage of the 85-lap race starts at 3 p.m. (ET) Sunday on NBCSN and the INDYCAR Radio Network. A 30-minute warmup starts at noon (ET), live on Peacock Premium.
Colton Herta goes back-to-back at Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta won Sunday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey giving him back-to-back victories two decades after his father accomplished the same feat. Herta beat Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou by 1.9747-seconds to pick up his second victory of 2021 and fifth of his career.
“Alex, really the whole race, was right there,” said Herta. “Then Grosjean at the end pressured Alex, therefore pressured me. To go two-for-two so far (at Laguna Seca) is great. We were fast all weekend, and I’m glad we could pull it off in the race.”
Palou continued his march towards his first series title with a second place after last week’s win at Portland, which gives Palou and the No. 10 NTT DATA team a 35-point lead ahead of second place Pato O’Ward.
“Unfortunately we didn’t have the pace that Colton had,” explained Palou. “I think in reds and blacks he had a bit more. As soon as I tried to catch him, which we tried, I would just cook my tires. Yeah, I couldn’t go as fast as him without losing my tires.”
Palou, O’Ward and two-time series champion Josef Newgarden are the only drivers eligible to win the Astor Challenge Cup at the season finale. Newgarden is third in the standings, 48 points back.
Six-time series champion Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson were eliminated from contention at this race after finishing 13th and sixth, respectively.
“All weekend we didn’t have it,” O’Ward said. “I truly feel like we used every single ounce of energy and pace that this car had. We pulled off a near-miracle in qualifying to start in the first three rows. In the race, honestly, that was as much as I had.
“All we can do at Long Beach is win, and then let everything else fall. I’ve got faith in myself. I know I’m pretty handy around a street course, so let’s see what we can pull off next week.”
Herta’s victory clinched the Manufacturers Championship for the fourth consecutive season.