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Alex Palou wins Indianapolis Grand Prix, moves into IndyCar points lead

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Alex Palou inherited the lead on Lap 65, then drove away from the pack Saturday to win the Indianapolis Grand Prix by 16.8006 seconds over Pato O’Ward.

It’s Palou’s first win in 11 career starts at Indy, his first of the season and the first for Chip Ganassi Racing since Marcus Ericsson won the season opener in March. The victory also sent the 2021 IndyCar series champion into the points lead, six ahead of Arrow McLaren’s O’Ward, who has been the runner-up three times in five races this season.

Palou has won five times since joining the series in 2020.

“We honestly knew we had a fast car yesterday,” the Spaniard said. “The car has been fast all weekend. I just had to execute.”

Alexander Rossi, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner, finished third. Pole winner Christian Lundgaard finished fourth for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing — his second straight top-five finish on Indy’s 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course.

Felix Rosenqvist, a teammate of Palou and Rossi, was fifth while defending race winner Colton Herta of Andretti Autosport wound up sixth.

But nobody could stay with Palou, who passed Lundgaard at the end of the first lap and wound up leading a race-high 52 of 85 laps on a warm, sticky, mostly sunny day.

The race came down to tire strategy late.

Lundgaard and Palou pitted on opposite ends of Lap 60 with Lundgaard going with sticker primaries while Palou went with scuffed tires. O’Ward, of Mexico, pitted three laps later and took the softer sticker reds.

And when Rossi pitted on Lap 65, going with reds, Palou moved to the front of the pack and kept pulling away.

Marcus Ericsson, the defending Indianapolis 500 champ, finished eighth and dropped two spots in the points chase to third, 18 points behind his teammate Palou.


The speedway may have a different feel and look to fans this May.

Speedway president Doug Boles outlined a revamped sustainability plan that includes adding recyclable aluminum cups in hospitality tents and suites, recyclable bags made out of plant-based material at its merchandising stores and new LED lighting in Gasoline Alley.

Behind the scenes, Boles also said the facility will donate prepared, unused food to a local food bank while perishable food will be composted along with grass clippings and wood pallets. Speedway officials also are seeking ways to recycle old LED lights, radios and other electronics.

The series has used 100% renewable fuel from Shell this season and this month will use tires made out of recycled materials.


Denmark’s most famous driver, Tom Kristensen, has followed his countryman Lundgaard’s career closely. So when he found out Lundgaard won his first IndyCar pole, the nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans champion wasted no time jumping on the bandwagon.

“Look guys he told me back in the day,” he posted on Instagram. “Now he is the very first Dane on pole position in an IndyCar race. Have a nice day everyone — and a great race today Christian!”


Practice for the Indianapolis 500 begins Tuesday on the track’s historic 2.5-mile oval. Pole qualifying will be held next Saturday with Bump Day set for May 21. IndyCar’s biggest race of the season will be run May 28.