Palou may have slipped to underdog status in the championship race as he seeks to become Ganassi’s first consecutive title winner since Dario Franchitti in 2010-11, and he is winless in 2022 so far. But the Spanish star led the 13 riders in action at Laguna Seca, with his closest rival nearly a quarter of a second behind.
The NTT-backed #10 CGR Honda, 73, lapped the beautiful hilly 2.238 mile course on the Monterey Peninsula in 1 minute 11.441 secondsapprox of 110 laps, a speed of 112.78 miles per hour.
His closest rivals were the Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolets of Felix Rosenqvist and Pato O’Ward, 0.236 and 0.270 seconds behind him respectively, with Rosenqvist completing most laps of the day at 112 but setting his best time on lap 67.
Graham Rahal’s speed indicated Rahal Letterman Lanigan-Honda’s recent uptick in form continues as he clocked 71.802mph on his final flyer of the day.
Indy 500 Champion Marcus Ericsson exited Turn 6, the fast uphill left-hander where the cars experience a lot of compression as they climb the corkscrew. The No. 8 Ganassi machine suffered significant damage to the left rear corner and rear wing, losing 90 minutes of potential track to repairs. But the stone-cold Swede returned to the track in time to set a 71.824, followed by a 71.893 two laps later to end his day within four tenths of a second from Palou.
Rookie David Malukas, who starred in his last IndyCar outing at World Wide Technology Raceway with his first-ever podium at this level, was sixth fastest. The Dale Coyne Racing driver with HMD-Honda was 0.07s quicker than six-time IndyCar Champion Scott Dixon, although the legend’s best lap came on Lap 4 before he focused on race settings.
Devlin DeFrancesco capitalized on a rookie day as the lone representative of Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport-Honda and was a hair’s breadth ahead of fellow rookie Callum Ilott of Junco’s Hollinger Racing-Chevrolet. Jack Harvey and Christian Lundgaard (another rookie) were 10thth and 11th for RLL, ahead of Takuma Sato in the Coyne with RWR car, while Jimmie Johnson completed the field, two seconds behind teammate Palou.
WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca will host the 2022 season finale of the NTT IndyCar Series next week, with the penultimate round being held at Portland International Raceway this weekend.
|P||driver||team engine||Best lap||total rounds|
|1||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing Honda||71,441||110|
|2||Felix Rosenqvist||McLaren SP Chevrolet Arrow||71,677||112|
|3||Pato O’Ward||McLaren SP Chevrolet Arrow||71,711||100|
|4||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda||71,802||96|
|5||Markus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing Honda||71,824||69|
|6||David Malukas||Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Honda||71,894||107|
|7||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing Honda||71,968||104|
|8th||Devlin DeFrancesco||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport Honda||72,000||72|
|9||Callum Ilotte||Junco’s Hollinger Racing Chevrolet||72.012||88|
|10||Jack Harvey||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda||72,062||80|
|11||Christian Lundgard||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda||72,299||94|
|12||Takuma Sato||Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda||72,532||88|
|13||Jimmie Johnson||Chip Ganassi Racing Honda||73,449||102|