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Alex Palou Fends Off Colton Herta To Win At Laguna Seca

MONTEREY, Calif. - In a chaotic, yet controlled Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou led 48 of 95 laps to earn his second win in the last three years at the legendary Northern California circuit.


In a race that was vastly in favor of the red-walled alternative tires, Palou’s team chose the gamble. 


Beating Andretti Global's Kyle Kirkwood on strategy, combined with a late-race divebomb on Colton Herta, the Spaniard sailed on to his second points-paying win (won an exhibition race at The Thermal Club) of the 2024 NTT IndyCar Series season.

“It was a tough race,” Palou said. “Lots of ups and downs. It went down on the first corner when I lost the lead, then the first pit sequence. I wasn’t happy with myself and the team had to do a really risky strategy, but it worked out. Glad to get the last win of this era (current engine formula), and excited for Mid-Ohio”. 


Palou exits Laguna Seca as the new championship points leader, now 23 points ahead of Team Penske’s Will Power.


On The Steps

Colton Herta’s day ended with a second-place finish. The California native only led eight laps, but a late overtake and lunge from Alex Palou in the Corkscrew was the race-deciding move.


Despite having the advantage of push-to-pass, Herta could not utilize it. However, coming home in the runner-up position gave the driver of the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda his third career podium finish at Laguna Seca. 


“It’s a gold result for us today, something to build off of,” Herta said. “The Gainbridge Honda was fast. We showed it, saved fuel fast and it could run flat out fast. I’m happy with the podium.”

Fellow California-born driver Alexander Rossi showed a strong pace as well. After being the highest-finishing Arrow McLaren driver, Rossi led 10 laps at the midpoint of the race. 


Rossi fended off Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Romain Grosjean to earn his first podium since the 2023 Indianapolis 500. 


“It was a good day for the organization,” Rossi said. “We’ll take a lot of positives from this weekend and build on it going into Mid-Ohio where we’re starting a whole new wild, crazy unknown era of hybrids.”


Outside The Podium

All eyes were on Nolan Siegel this weekend. In a bombshell announcement last Tuesday, Arrow McLaren announced the 19-year-old as the new full-time driver of the No. 6 Chevrolet, relieving Theo Pourchaire of his duties.


Siegel’s debut in papaya colors got off to a shaky start after the rookie spun when he dropped a wheel exiting Turn 2, bringing out the second caution of the race. With three more cautions still to come and Siegel staying on the lead lap, he was able to return to the middle of the field. 


The native of Palo Alto, California finished 12th in his home race.


"All done with my first race at Arrow McLaren. P23 to P12, securing the biggest mover of the race, so overall, I think it was a successful day,” Siegel said. “It wasn't without its challenges, but everyone pushed through and kept at it all race long. We were able to make up a ton of spots at the end there. I'm really happy with the No. 6 NTT DATA Arrow McLaren Chevrolet. 


“The car was truly the best it's been all weekend, and it was really fast all day. A lot of this was because of the pit stops that the crew did and the strategy that was called. I'm grateful for my crew and can't wait to work with them more in the future."


It was ups and downs for the return of David Malukas to IndyCar competition for the first time in 2024. Trading Papaya colors for pink, the new driver of the No. 66 AutoNation/Arctic Wolf Honda qualified in the Fast 12 for Meyer Shank Racing on debut with the team. 


Running as high as third during the race, a lengthy strategy call forced a late pit stop which ultimately put him out of contention. However, in a race where Malukas simply wanted to finish, a 16th-place finish is more than enough for his maiden race of 2024.


“Definitely a bummer to finish where we did especially with the pace we had, I think we were tracking to be about eight,” Malukas said. “But I guess for us to be sad about this result is OK when we really just set out to finish. I know, know for me I just wanted to get across the line.


“But overall it was a great first outing with a new team and a new hand especially coming into MSR which has been in mid-season form. Hopefully, we can just keep progressing and move onto Mid-Ohio.”


While Romain Grosjean did not lead a single lap, the Frenchman showed strong speed and consistency all day. He finished in fourth place, which is the best result of the year so far for “The Phoenix.” 


It was also the best finish in the history of Juncos Hollinger Racing in IndyCar.


“A great result for all of us,” Grosjean said. “I think yesterday in qualifying. I think we had a lot more than we could show and I think today, we also had a bit more we wanted. One set of tires was a bit strange in the middle stint that cost us quite a bit of time. On the last stint, sadly there were too many safety cars. I knew the deg was on our side, and we didn’t have much problem with that.”


GRID Ranking

The 2024 GRID Ranking is the eighth year of the world's premier motorsport ranking and was initially released on Sunday, April 7.


The official ranking includes drivers that participate in seven racing series (NASCAR, IndyCar, Formula 1, Formula E, World Rally Championship, Repco Supercars, MotoGP), and each driver earns GRID Ratings, which help determine their seeding in the GRID Ranking.


GRID Ranking Week 12 INDYCAR Drivers:

DRIVER

OLD RATING

PREVIOUS RANKING

MOST RECENT FINISH

NEW RATING

NEW RANKING

Alex Palou

13.91

9th

1st

15.84

7th

Will Power

14.04

8th

7th

13.20

12th

Scott Dixon

13.23

13th

6th

13.08

13th

Colton Herta

N/A

N/A

2nd

9.72

27th

Scott McLaughlin

9.32

30th

21st

8.28

33rd

The NTT IndyCar Series finally gets electrified, with the Honda Indy 200 taking place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, marking the dawn of the hybrid engine era. Coverage begins Sunday, July 7 at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC.


Results: 2024 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

2024 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey Results.

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