Ericsson 2nd, Palou 4th in Indianapolis 500
Alex Palou’s pit crew performs a nose cone change on the No. 10 American Legion Honda after Palou’s car was pinned to the wall by Rinus VeeKay during a pit stop in the Indianapolis 500. Palou dropped to 28

Ericsson 2nd, Palou 4th in Indianapolis 500

After Chip Ganassi Racing’s (CGR) Alex Palou was pinned into the wall by Rinus VeeKay during a pit stop on Lap 95 Sunday, the Indianapolis 500 polesitter’s No. 10 American Legion Honda needed a new nose cone. Though it was quickly repaired, it dropped Palou – who had been running in the top 5 and had led 36 laps at that point – all the way down to 28th.

Over the final 100 or so laps of the Indianapolis, Palou battled back and showed exactly why he was so successful in the Legion car during the month of May.

Just over two weeks from winning the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course, Palou would make his way back to a fourth-place finish in the car that has prominently shared the Legion’s “Be the One” suicide-prevention initiative on the national stage since he won the pole May 21.

Meanwhile, Palou’s CGR teammate Marcus Ericsson – driving the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda that also carried American Legion branding – moved up from the 10th starting spot to lead 30 laps, taking the lead a final time on lap 196. But a three-car incident brought up a yellow flag that became a red – the third competition-related red flag of the day, an Indy 500 record – and meant the cars would have a one-lap finish for the checkered flag.

Ericsson held the lead through Turns 1 and 2, but Josef Newgarden passed Ericsson on the back straightaway and held him off to win the race by .0974 seconds, the fourth-closest finish in Indianapolis 500 history. It was the 52nd lead change of the race, the third-most all-time.

Afterward, Ericsson said he was disappointed with the decision to go to a red flag, rather than ending the race under a caution, calling it an “unfair and dangerous end to the race. I don’t think there were enough laps to do what we did. We don’t get our tires up to temperature.”

But he also said the effort was there. “I think we did everything right today,” Ericsson said. “I’m proud of the No. 8 crew and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. I think I did everything right behind the wheel. I did an awesome last restart. I think I caught Josef completely off guard and got the gap and kept the lead into Turn 1. I just couldn’t hold it on the back. I was flat. I just couldn’t hold it.”

Palou was one of the top cars on the track until the pit stop incident in which VeeKay – exiting his pit behind Palou’s – began to spin right and then turned left, pushing the No. 10 American Legion Honda into the wall. It was an uphill battle from there, but Palou nearly made it to the summit.

“It’s a big shame, because I think it was going to be a good race for the 10 car,” Palou said outside of his garage after the race. “I know (VeeKay) didn’t do it on purpose, but still, we had to go from like fourth to 30th, and our day was really tough after that. We had to go flat-out after that.”

Palou hoped to win the race and amplify even further the Legion’s “Be the One” campaign that he’d been doing the month of May on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES’ biggest stage.

“Obviously we wanted to do more, because I felt like we had more, and it was going to be awesome for The American Legion ‘Be the One’ initiative,” he said. “But it is what it is. It’s racing. We still made it a different way, I think, by winning the Grand Prix, winning the pole and making a good comeback to the top four. So, overall, I feel really, really happy.

“It just makes me feel different winning a race when I see people telling me they’ve had family that’s been helped by The American Legion because of what we do. We’ll keep on doing it. We’ll keep on spreading the ‘Be the One’ initiative and The American Legion, and we’ll keep on trying to help veterans.”

It was another strong showing for Chip Ganassi. In addition to Ericsson and Palou. CGR teammates Scott Dixon (sixth) and Takuma Sato (seventh) gave the Ganassi four top-seven finishes, far and away the best showing of any team.

Palou will take a 219-199 NTT INDYCAR SERIES points lead into the June 4 Chevrolet Grand Prix of Detroit presented by Lear on a new circuit on the streets of Detroit.