IndyCar Wrap: Superman Alex Palou Grabs Points Lead With Laguna Seca Triumph

alex palou indycar laguna seca
Alex Palou Pulls Off Another IndyCar Superman ActPenske Entertainment/James Black

Alex Palou is beginning to look a bit like Superman.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver scored his second points win of the IndyCar Series season Sunday, turning back all challengers and surviving a string of restarts to breeze to victory in the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey at WeatherTech Raceway.

Palou started from the pole and dropped to second at the green flag as Kyle Kirkwood made an aggressive move to take the lead. Virtually everything else went Palou’s way as he charged into the series point lead. He took a 23-point lead over previous leader Will Power, who had a down and dusty day over the 2.238-mile course, finishing seventh.


Palou clearly is wearing a cape in pursuit of his third series championship in four years. He led 48 of the race’s 95 laps Sunday and now has finishes of second, first, third and first in his runs at Monterey.

monterey, ca during the firestone grand prix of monterey in monterey, california photo by joe skibinski ims photo
The win at Laguna Seca was Palou’s second of the season, third counting the non-points Thermal Challenge.Penske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski

Yet it wasn’t a cakewalk run on the Laguna Seca course. Crashes in the closing miles bunched the field, testing Palou’s skill at repelling green-flag surges from others in the top five. He showed that that skill remains in his repertoire.

Palou described it as “a chaotic race” with “too much intense at the end with restarts.”

On a day when more than a few drivers did some “agricultural” on the dusty sides of the track, Colton Herta and Alexander Rossi completed the podium, with Rossi scoring his best run of the year.

monterey, ca during the firestone grand prix of monterey in monterey, california photo by joe skibinski ims photo
Josef Newgarden left Laguna Seca ninth in the NTT IndyCar Series points. Penske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski

Newgarden: He’s Up, He’s Down, He’s All Around

The day was a bizarre one for Indianapolis 500 winner Josef Newgarden, who didn’t have a particularly strong car.

Newgarden was no threat to the leaders through the majority of the race, but there he was—suddenly running in front and leading five laps approaching the finish. Newgarden and others benefitted when series officials delayed the start of the race’s final caution period so that they could reach pit road. That put Newgarden in position to challenge for a podium spot, but he ran off track in Turn 6 twice near the end of the race and finished 19th.

monterey, ca during the firestone grand prix of monterey in monterey, california photo by joe skibinski ims photo
Alexander Rossi’s third place finish for Arrow McLaren marked his first podium of 2024.Penske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski

Podium Welcomes Rossi

Although Alexander Rossi was among those trying—and failing—to chase down Alex Palou in the second half of the race, his podium finish gave Arrow McLaren a positive spin for the day.

"It was a great weekend for the team,” Rossi said. “The first podium of the year, so that's pretty good. Nolan (Siegel) was the best rookie and Pato (O’Ward) was in the top 10. We'll take the positives from that. You obviously always want more, especially with the pace that we had in clean air, but it was a pretty good day for all of Arrow McLaren."

Siegel, the highly regarded 19-year-old running for the first time in an Arrow McLaren permanent ride, finished 12th despite a spin. O’Ward was eighth.

“He (Siegel) had a great recovery, and I'm happy with how everyone kept their cool with that mid-race spin,” team principal Gavin Ward said. “The pace was there, and that gave us options. A lot of other people made bigger mistakes today, so I'm pretty happy overall."

salinas, ca firestone grand prix of monterey indycar race at weathertech raceway laguna seca in salinas, california photo by chris jones ims photo
Sunday proved to be another long day for Graham Rahal.Penske Entertainment/Chris Jones

Rahal Runs into Late-Race Trouble

A tough season got even rougher for Graham Rahal at Monterey.

Late in the race, Rahal was swept up in the biggest crash of the afternoon. Near Turn 5, Kyffin Simpson was hit by Agustin Canapino, and the contact resulted in Simpson’s car sliding and blocking the track. Rahal, with nowhere to go, sailed into the side of Simpson’s car, and Rahal’s hands were whipped around by the spinning steering wheel. Rahal slammed into the right-side barrier but apparently was not seriously injured.

Results, Updated Points

Results Sunday of the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey NTT IndyCar Series event on the 2.238-mile WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (1) Alex Palou, Honda, 95, Running
2. (4) Colton Herta, Honda, 95, Running
3. (5) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 95, Running
4. (8) Romain Grosjean, Chevrolet, 95, Running
5. (2) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 95, Running
6. (10) Scott Dixon, Honda, 95, Running
7. (15) Will Power, Chevrolet, 95, Running
8. (9) Pato O'Ward, Chevrolet, 95, Running
9. (17) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 95, Running
10. (18) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 95, Running
11. (3) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 95, Running
12. (23) Nolan Siegel, Chevrolet, 95, Running
13. (21) Christian Rasmussen, Chevrolet, 95, Running
14. (24) Pietro Fittipaldi, Honda, 95, Running
15. (6) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 95, Running
16. (12) David Malukas, Honda, 95, Running
17. (16) Linus Lundqvist, Honda, 95, Running
18. (13) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 95, Running
19. (14) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 95, Running
20. (25) Sting Ray Robb, Chevrolet, 94, Running
21. (7) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 93, Running
22. (11) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 93, Running
23. (22) Kyffin Simpson, Honda, 86, Contact
24. (19) Graham Rahal, Honda, 86, Contact
25. (26) Jack Harvey, Honda, 82, Mechanical
26. (20) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 71, Mechanical
27. (27) Luca Ghiotto, Honda, 34, Contact

Race Statistics
Winner's average speed:
102.740 mph
Time of Race:
Margin of victory:
1.9780 seconds
Lead changes:
7 among 5 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Kirkwood, Kyle 1 - 24
Palou, Alex 25 - 26
Rossi, Alexander 27 - 36
Palou, Alex 37 - 55
Herta, Colton 56 - 63
Palou, Alex 64 - 69
Newgarden, Josef 70 - 74
Palou, Alex 75 - 95

NTT IndyCar Series Point Standings:
Palou 285, Power 262, Dixon 253, Herta 217, Kirkwood 210, O'Ward 208, Rossi 198, McLaughlin 188, Newgarden 181, Rosenqvist 176, Lundgaard 156, Ferrucci 154, Ericsson 150, Grosjean 144, Armstrong 129, Rahal 127, VeeKay 114, Lundqvist 113, Fittipaldi 97, Simpson 88, Canapino 86, Rasmussen 82, Robb 78, Pourchaire 75, Harvey 70, Blomqvist 46, Ilott 39, Siegel 35, Ghiotto 27, Castroneves 26, Daly 21, Larson 21, Sato 19, Malukas 14, Carpenter 14, Vautier 12, Braun 10, Hunter-Reay 6, Andretti 5, Legge 5, Siegel 5