Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou remained patient and got his rewards as he took victory in the NTT Indycar Series, REV Group Grand Prix of Road America to take the championship lead away from Pato O’Ward.
The Spaniard made some bold moves to get up to second but he never looked likely to overtake long-time race leader Josef Newgarden, until the Team Penske Chevrolet went into emergency mode for the final two lap sprint following a late caution which ended the American’s hopes of victory.
Heartbreak for Newgarden, and Penske’s winless run continuing, was Palou’s gain as he is now 28 points clear of O’Ward in the championship.
Newgarden would eventually finish 21st, giving him a mountain to climb if he wants to earn a third championship title.
Colton Herta had a steady race but made moves when it mattered to take home second for Andretti Autosport while Penske did get a driver on the podium as Will Power redeemed himself after his Detroit nightmare.
Scott Dixon was stuck in the midfield for most of the race but as he always does, he and Ganassi found a way to make up places and finish fourth to keep building his points tally heading into the second half of the year.
Former Formula One drivers Romain Grosjean and Marcus Ericsson were a solid fifth and sixth over the line, Ericsson especially did supremely well to recover from a caution-causing spin to ensure Ganassi had three cars in the top six.
Alexander Rossi finally had an incident-free run as he came home seventh ahead of Takuma Sato who made some big late race moves after a bold strategy call gave him much fresher tyres for the final sprint to the flag.
O’Ward was overtaken by Sato on the last lap so finished ninth for Arrow McLaren SP while Max Chilton gave Carlin their best run for a long time on a road course in tenth, benefitting from the same strategy gamble as Sato.
Dalton Kellett had big mechanical problems all race and never really got going while Kevin Magnussen, who led his first Indycar laps after staying out under a mid-race yellow, also had technical gremlins that caused him to retire.
The last caution was thrown after Ed Jones had a failure on his Dale Coyne Racing car and he failed to see the flag while Jimmie Johnson also had a spin but he made it to the end, albeit a lap down.
|1||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing||55 Laps|
|2||Colton Herta||Andretti Autosport||+1.910|
|3||Will Power||Team Penske||+2.985|
|4||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||+3.904|
|5||Romain Grosjean||Dale Coyne Racing||+4.713|
|6||Marcus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing||+5.180|
|7||Alexander Rossi||Andretti Autosport||+7.721|
|9||Pato O’Ward||Arrow McLaren SP||+9.024|
|12||Oliver Askew||Ed Carpenter Racing||+11.301|
|13||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||+11.937|
|14||Scott McLaughlin||Team Penske||+12.193|
|15||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport||+13.947|
|16||Sebastien Bourdais||A.J Foyt Enterprises||+14.116|
|17||Jack Harvey||Meyer Shank Racing||+15.594|
|18||Simon Pagenaud||Team Penske||+16.461|
|19||Cody Ware||Dale Coyne Racing||+16.993|
|20||Conor Daly||Ed Carpenter Racing||+17.555|
|21||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||+90.789|
|22||Jimmie Johnson||Chip Ganassi Racing||+1 Lap|
|23||Ed Jones||Dale Coyne Racing||DNF (Damage)|
|24||Kevin Magnussen||Arrow McLaren SP||DNF (Mechanical)|
|25||Dalton Kellett||A.J Foyt Enterprises||DNF (Mechanical)|