Road America GP: Palou takes statement win from a surprising Herta

The 2021 champion's late move gives him three wins in 2023

The IndyCar series traveled to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, for the eighth round of the 2023 season. The Road America GP is the longest road course the series races on this season and marks the halfway point.

Championship leader Álex Palou came in fresh off a win in the Detroit Grand Prix. He is one of six drivers who’s won at Road America before. Despite a fierce challenge from Colton Herta, Palou held on for a momentous win, his third of the season.

Herta’s Saturday speed

Saturday’s qualifying session saw many familiar faces at the front of the field. Championship contenders Pato O’Ward, Palou, and Josef Newgarden all set times among the top six drivers. But Herta surprised as the fastest man on track with the best times in rounds one, two, and three of qualifying. He took pole by less than two-tenths of a second from O’Ward, with Palou another tenth behind him.

Herta’s had a low-key 2023 season. Halfway through the IndyCar schedule, and he’s had little Saturday luck after starting second in the opening round in St. Petersberg. On Sundays, he’s managed just one top-five finish (fourth in Long Beach). But he had the pace in qualifying to threaten for his first IndyCar win since last May.

The top five in qualifying were Herta, O’Ward, Palou, Newgarden, and Alexander Rossi. O’Ward, Palou, and Newgarden were in the top five of the IndyCar standings heading into Sunday’s race.

Palou chases Herta down on Sunday

Herta continued his impressive form into Sunday’s race. He maintained the lead through the start and first round of pit stops as the drivers behind him battled for position. An error exiting the pits after his second stop dropped him to third behind Newgarden and Palou around lap 25. He’d pass both of them and retake the lead by lap 34.

Herta showed a strong pace in the stint before pitting a lap earlier than the rest of the frontrunners. After the last round of stops, Herta held a slim lead over Palou and Newgarden.

Due to fuel saving, Herta’s pace dropped within the next 10 laps. Palou closed in on him within a few laps, cutting the gap to just 0.4 seconds by lap 47. Two laps later, Palou took the lead into turn 1. Herta dropped down the order to fifth by the finish, losing out on a potential first podium of the season.

Round eight of the IndyCar schedule saw Palou win from Newgarden, O’Ward, Scott Dixon, and Herta. Dixon had a remarkable charge on Sunday, going from 23rd to fourth.

Palou’s win is his third in four weeks, making him the first driver to win three IndyCar races in 2023. His lead in the IndyCar standings grows; Marcus Ericsson, who managed sixth in Sunday’s race, now sits 74 points behind him in the championship. Despite this string of success, Palou is downplaying any idea that the championship is his already.

“If it was another series, yeah, maybe I would be a bit more relaxed,” he said after the race. “In IndyCar, you can’t.”

Next up on the calendar

The Road America GP once again provided fans and drivers with an exciting race decided in the closing laps.

It continues the stretch of Midwest races in the middle of the IndyCar calendar. Next up is another road course race, the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. Last time out, Scott McLaughlin barely held on for the win over Palou. We could see more close battles once again. While Road America GP provided excitement, the Honda Indy 200 figures to be just as exciting.

Follow us on Twitter

Can’t get enough? Here’s more!

Back to top button

pointspreads

WHO WILL WIN?

NBA Finals
dallas mavericks
Dallas Mavericks
Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics
Sunday, June 23, 2024
50%
50%
Stanley Cup
edmonton oilers
Edmonton Oilers
Florida Panthers
Florida Panthers
Sunday, June 23, 2024
50%
50%
Submit your vote and view the results
Hey Again

vote all you can

pointspreads

PS-email

PS-email

pointspreads

pointspreads-email

Bet like a PRO!

pointspreads-email

Subscribe now and get Weekly Expert Free Picks