By: Spencer Neff
June 20, 2021
A competitive NTT INDYCAR SERIES season passed its midpoint today. Sunday marked the ninth race of the season, the Rev Group Grand Prix at Road America. Today’s 55-lap race on the 4.014-mile, 14-turn road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin closed out the month of June for the series’ on-track action.
Take a look at how the day played out.
Palou takes second win and points lead
Seven days after the team lost the points lead for the first time in 2021, Chip Ganassi Racing rebounded.
Following mechanical issues for pole sitter Josef Newgarden of Team Penske on the final restart, sophomore driver Alex Palou sped past and won for the second time his career, backing up his season-opening win at Barber Motorsports Park.
The No. 10 won at Road America for the second consecutive season (Felix Rosenqvist won Race 2 of last year’s doubleheader), besting Andretti Autosport’s Colton Herta by 1.9106 seconds.
From the start the action throughout the field was intense, by Turn 1, Harvey powered his way up to second. On Lap 4, Sato was assessed an avoidable contact penalty after contact with Daly in Turn 7 and had left-rear bodywork damage.
Up front, Newgarden stretched out his lead over the first stint. On Lap 16, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jimmie Johnson hit the curbs and spun in Turn 7, bringing out the first caution of the day. The action picked back up on Lap 19 with Newgarden under attack from Palou.
On Lap 23, Ganassi’s team encountered more issues as Marcus Ericsson spun between Turns 3 and 4, prompting another yellow flag. Two laps later, fuel strategy put Kevin Magnussen at the front of the field in his series debut. Substituting for Felix Rosenqvist with Arrow McLaren SP, he led six laps before Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato took over and he pitted.
Magnussen’s run ended three laps later as his engine died between Turns 7 and 8, forcing a third caution as his No. 7 was towed in. Newgarden made his way back to the front as Sato pitted and made his last stop on Lap 41. Playing strategy further, Sato and Carlin Racing’s Max Chilton ran up front until their Lap 48 pit stops.
With four laps remaining, Ed Carpenter Racing’s Oliver Askew (subbing for Rinus VeeKay) pitted, giving the lead back to Newgarden. Seconds later, Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sulliivan’s Ed Jones had a left-rear tire go flat and spun in Turn 12. Jones’ spin in Canada corner triggered the fourth caution of the day and throwing another wrinkle into the race’s complexion.
On the Lap 53 restart, Palou stormed past Newgarden in Turn 1. From there, he would hang on and earn the victory. It is the first time since 1978 that six or more consecutive races have been won by a driver who did not lead the most laps.
Palou now leads Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward by 28 points with seven races left on the schedule.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will take a week off before their next race, the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 4.
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Header Image By James Black/INDYCAR