Power seals IndyCar title; Palou claims Laguna win


 Will Power won the championship, Alex Palou won the race and Josef Newgarden came close to upstaging both of them in a frantic NTT IndyCar Series title-decider at Laguna Seca.

The No. 12 Team Penske Chevy started from pole and Power really only needed to not have anything go too far sideways in order to claim the Astor Cup for the second time of his career. But when the time came, the biggest threat among his four rivals proved to be the one that started the day with arguably the greatest disadvantage: Newgarden had lined up on the back row of the grid after a mistake at the start of qualifying yesterday.

Power had mused after qualifying that a mistake on Saturday could actually be turned into a benefit on Sunday because it meant starting the race with more tires available, and that potentially proved to be one of the aces in Newgarden’s hand – all five sets that were bolted onto the No. 2 Team Penske Chevy during Sunday afternoon still bore their stickers. The sole yellow of the afternoon helped him a little too, because it cut everyone else’s second stint a little short and brought him more into synch with the frontrunners.

“I just knew I had to absolutely get the most out of those stints,” Power said. “And not lose any more positions. I had to drive the thing today. It was on the edge, very loose and…man, what a relief. What a relief to get that done.”

None of the other championship hopefuls were a significant factor, with Penske’s Scott McLaughlin back in sixth, Marcus Ericsson navigating a scrappy afternoon en route to ninth, and Scott Dixon attributing a chunk of his 12th place to a four-stopper that kept dumping him back into traffic.

Felix Rosenqvist ran among the top 10 all afternoon on his way to an eventual fourth ahead of RLL’s Christian Lundgaard, whose fifth place was more than enough to secure the Rookie of the Year title after rival David Malukas endured a frustrating run to 13th.

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