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Race report
IndyCar Toronto

IndyCar Toronto: Lundgaard scores maiden victory from heroic Palou

Christian Lundgaard won the 10th round of the IndyCar Series on the streets of Toronto from pole position, a maiden victory that was far from straightforward for him.

In a mixed-up strategy race, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Lundgaard dominated the opening stint but a yellow at half distance after Romain Grosjean crashed his Andretti Autosport car set off a chain of events that meant he had to battle his way back to the head of the field.

Lundgaard passed points leader Alex Palou, up from 15th on the grid, for the victory in the final third of the race for his first win in the series.

Palou finished second despite his poor starting position and a badly damaged nose section on his Chip Ganassi Racing car that was hanging off his car by the finish.

Polesitter Lundgaard, who started on the softer alternate tires, led the field to green at the 11-turn, 1.786-mile Exhibition Place street course from McLaughlin on the harder primary rubber, Pato O’Ward (Arrow McLaren) and the Ganassi entries of Marcus Ericsson and Scott Dixon – the latter jumping up to fifth from seventh on the grid.

An eight-car pileup occurred on the exit of Turn 1, as an initial three-car collision between Jack Harvey (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing), debutant Tom Blomqvist (Meyer Shank Racing) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (Ed Carpenter Racing) got collected by Alexander Rossi (McLaren), Sting Ray Robb (Dale Coyne Racing) and the AJ Foyt Racing cars of Santino Ferrucci and Benjamin Pedersen. Graham Rahal also ploughed into Pedersen, but smartly reversed and used the run-off loop beneath Princes’ Gate to avoid going a lap down.

The race went green again on lap 10, Lundgaard leading McLaughlin, O’Ward, Ericsson and Dixon. Kyle Kirkwood (Andretti Autosport) grabbed sixth from Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist at Turn 3.

From 14th and 15th on the grid, the out-of-position Colton Herta (Andretti) and Palou (Ganassi) both gained a couple of spots at the start. They switched positions straight after the restart, but Palou then clipped Grosjean at Turn 3 and dropped back behind Herta, who himself jumped ahead of Grosjean and Marcus Armstrong (Ganassi) on successive laps to run 10th by lap 14.

At the front, Lundgaard sprinted away from McLaughlin by 4s on his alternates. Rosenqvist was the first of the frontrunners on alternates to pit for primaries on lap 17, while Kirkwood and Josef Newgarden (Penske) quickly followed suit.

Lundgaard pitted from the lead on lap 19, suffering a slight delay on his right-front corner change, and although he rejoined behind all pitters he was mired in midfield traffic. O’Ward ran a lap longer, and was the last of the alternate starters to stop.

That left primary-tired starters McLaughlin, Ericsson, Dixon, Will Power (Penske), Herta, Grosjean and Palou at the head of the field, as Lundgaard battled his way back into the top 10 past the long-stint running primary midfielders. When he did get some clear air, Lundgaard was able to use his fresh tires to retain his net lead but happened upon a stubborn Rinus VeeKay (ECR) – who defended his eighth place hard.

Ahead of them, Palou pulled a superb lunge on Grosjean to grab sixth at Turn 5 at one-third distance, which prompted the Frenchman to become the first of the primary-tire starters on lap 32.

McLaughlin pitted from a 6.4s lead over Ericsson on lap 35, as early-stoppers Lundgaard and O’Ward worked their way past VeeKay in the pack. He rejoined between Lundgaard, who was 5s ahead, and just in front of O’Ward.

Dixon, Power and Palou ran the longest, until pitting on lap 37, with Power jumping ahead of Dixon out of pitlane. Palou was forced to pull an elbows-out move on Rosenqvist at Turn 2 to ensure ninth, with the big gainers in the first stint being Kirkwood (up to fourth) and Newgarden (up to sixth). Herta fell back to 11th, ahead of Grosjean.

Lundgaard led by over 6s just before half distance, with McLaughlin – on alternates – pulling 2s clear of O’Ward, with Kirkwood a distant fourth.

But everything changed on lap 42 as Grosjean slammed the wall at Turn 10, his car suddenly ploughing head-on as he admitted the steering wheel was pulled out of his hands over the infamous bumps in that section. That caused the second full-course caution, under which Kirkwood, Palou and Herta pitted – putting them in range of the finish if there were more laps under caution.

The race briefly went green with McLaughlin looking poised to pass Lundgaard at the restart but Helio Castroneves spun his MSR car at Turn 11, after being hit by Kirkwood, and Palou clipped both Helio and the wall before it went yellow again.

The majority of the field pitted, but McLaughlin, Dixon and VeeKay – on alternates – stayed out. Lundgaard just beat O’Ward, Ericsson and Power out of the lane, rejoining seventh.

The race restarted on lap 52 in the order McLaughlin, Dixon, VeeKay, Kirkwood, Herta, Palou, Lundgaard, O’Ward, Ericsson and Power. Palou pounced past Herta, as Kirkwood hit the wall and slowed, stacking the field up and sending him into the pits.

Lundgaard battled his way up to sixth, with O’Ward following his tracks. Lundgaard then passed Herta for fifth at Turn 5, as Palou scampered away as the leading primary-tired runner in fourth – but he had a broken nose section.

McLaughlin pulled a second clear of Dixon, with VeeKay falling back and pitting on lap 60, ahead of Palou, Lundgaard, Herta and O’Ward. McLaughlin stopped for the final time on lap 62, just before Lundgaard battled his way past Palou at Turn 3 and 4, which soon became for the lead as Dixon pitted a lap later.

Lundgaard instantly pulled well clear of Palou and Herta, as Power muscled his way past O’Ward for fourth on lap 64. O’Ward tumbled down the order thereafter to finish eighth.

Lundgaard scored victory by over 11s, as Palou, Herta, Power and Ericsson fought an entertaining battle to the finish behind him.

There was a sting in the tail for Power and Ericsson, who had to pit on the final lap for more fuel, elevating Dixon to fourth, ahead of Newgarden and McLaughlin. Ericsson finished 11th and Power 14th, as several cars ran out of gas on the in-lap.

Cla Driver Team Laps Time Gap
1 Denmark Christian Lundgaard United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 85 1:41'55.8001  
2 Spain Alex Palou United States Chip Ganassi Racing 85 1:42'07.5894 11.7893
3 United States Colton Herta United States Andretti Autosport 85 1:42'10.8600 15.0599
4 New Zealand Scott Dixon United States Chip Ganassi Racing 85 1:42'11.5601 15.7600
5 United States Josef Newgarden United States Team Penske 85 1:42'15.0422 19.2421
6 New Zealand Scott McLaughlin United States Team Penske 85 1:42'15.2799 19.4798
7 New Zealand Marcus Armstrong United States Chip Ganassi Racing 85 1:42'18.6006 22.8005
8 Mexico Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren 85 1:42'19.7983 23.9982
9 United States Graham Rahal United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 85 1:42'22.4885 26.6884
10 Sweden Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren 85 1:42'24.4025 28.6024
11 Sweden Marcus Ericsson United States Chip Ganassi Racing 85 1:42'29.3626 33.5625
12 Argentina Agustin Canapino United States Juncos Hollinger Racing 85 1:42'31.0617 35.2616
13 Netherlands Rinus van Kalmthout United States Ed Carpenter Racing 85 1:42'31.4376 35.6375
14 Australia Will Power United States Team Penske 85 1:42'32.1468 36.3467
15 United States Kyle Kirkwood United States Andretti Autosport 85 1:42'32.9612 37.1611
16 United States Alexander Rossi Arrow McLaren 84 1:42'25.4965 1 Lap
17 United States Santino Ferrucci United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 82 1:42'35.9998 3 Laps
18 United Kingdom Callum Ilott United States Juncos Hollinger Racing 81 1:38'08.8703 4 Laps
19 Ray Robb United States Dale Coyne Racing 81 1:42'56.6670 4 Laps
20 United States David Malukas United States Dale Coyne Racing 69 1:25'18.8133 16 Laps
21 Brazil Helio Castroneves United States Meyer Shank Racing 45 1:01'49.9093 40 Laps
22 France Romain Grosjean United States Andretti Autosport 41 54'00.0025 44 Laps
23 Canada Devlin DeFrancesco United States Andretti Autosport 10 17'15.8172 75 Laps
24 United Kingdom Jack Harvey United States Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 0 2.4749 85 Laps
25 United Kingdom Tom Blomqvist United States Meyer Shank Racing 0 2.4718 85 Laps
26 United States Ryan Hunter-Reay United States Ed Carpenter Racing 0 2.5813 85 Laps
27 Denmark Benjamin Pedersen United States A.J. Foyt Enterprises 0 3.1543 85 Laps

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