Palou Kicks Off Title Defense with Sixth-Place Finish in St. Pete



Posted on 03/10/2024

Palou Kicks Off Title Defense with Sixth-Place Finish in St. Pete

The 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season officially kicked off on the Streets of St. Petersburg today, where two-time reigning series champion Alex Palou produced Chip Ganassi Racing’s top result with a sixth-place finish.

In his inaugural race running the No. 10 DHL Honda, Palou tied for the fourth-biggest mover (+7) over the course of the 100-lap race.

Scott Dixon, who will be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame on Tuesday, wrapped up the day with a ninth-place finish in his 20th career start at the St. Petersburg street circuit.

Kyffin Simpson impressed in his INDYCAR debut with a P14 finish, advancing nine positions as the second-biggest mover (+9) among the field. Simpson earned 16 points and wrapped up the day as the top-placing rookie.

Linus Lundqvist and Marcus Armstrong faced adversity in the season-opening race, finishing in P23 and P27, respectively.

The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg began in steady fashion, as the field participated in green flag running for the first quarter of the race where Armstrong (P10), Dixon (P11) and Palou (P13) maintained their original starting positions. Over the course of that period, Lundqvist advanced one position to P19 while Simpson pushed forward two positions to P23.

On lap 27, Armstrong was unfortunately forced to retire from the race after making contact with the wall while entering Turn 10.

A second full course yellow was displayed on lap 35 after the No. 41 of Sting Ray Robb faced a mechanical issue in the run-off of Turn 1.

At the halfway point of the race, Dixon was pushing from P8 position followed by Palou in P11, Lundqvist in P15 and Simpson in P20.

Then, with 36 laps to go, the No. 77 of Romain Grosjean made contact with the rear of Linus Lundqvist’s No. 8 American Legion Honda, forcing the Chip Ganassi Racing newcomer into the Turn 10 barriers.

Lundqvist was racing as the top rookie in the field at the time of the incident in P15 position. The No. 77 was given a drive-through penalty for their role in the incident. The race continued with uninterrupted green flag running before Josef Newgarden's No. 2 took the checkered flag. 

Alex Palou - No. 10 DHL Honda

“I'm happy with the race. We finished two spots better than what we did last year. We started struggling at the beginning of the weekend, so it was an amazing recovery by Chip Ganassi Racing and the No. 10 DHL Honda team. I'm happy to finish in the top-six and it's a great start. That first yellow really didn't help us, as it put everyone in the same position so we had 35 laps less of the race to do something. Looking forward to the races ahead with Thermal and especially Long Beach."

Scott Dixon - No. 9 PNC Bank Honda

“It was a bit of a bland day. I thought we had a good situation at the start and then it all kind of closed down to go off-track to make sure that we didn't hit anybody. There was just no tire degradation so there wasn't as much racing as I would have liked. Ultimately, I think the PNC Bank crew should have had a fifth, sixth or seventh, so it's not the absolute best way to start the season."

Kyffin Simpson - No. 4 Journie Rewards Honda

"What an incredible day. I'm stoked to have such a good first race in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. I felt like we had a good start to the race and then we just kept it clean. It was definitely tight at times with some side-by-side racing, but we were able to push through and keep things clean. We were able to really push it on the greens at the end with great pace. I'm very happy with the entire day for the Journie Rewards team."

Linus Lundqvist - No. 8 American Legion Honda

“It was not the day that we wanted to have. I think we were looking really good over the first stint, managing and looking after the car and the tires. We were pushing when we needed to and did a bit of an overcut and gained a few places in the pit stop sequence. I think we did everything we could to maximize our strategy and we were fastest when we needed to be. We were fighting on the edge of the top-10 and then sadly got taken out. It's quite unfortunate because the guys and girls with the American Legion team did such a phenomenal job to be fighting for that top-10 position. It is a long season and we will definitely bounce back from that and bring the positives from the speed that we had."

Marcus Armstrong - No. 11 Ridgeline Lubricants Honda

“I was working on a fuel number and touched the brakes and locked the brakes immediately. I'm so disappointed by that mistake and I feel terrible for the No. 11 Chip Ganassi Racing Ridgeline Lubricants group because we were fast. To be honest, we weren't pushing hard at the time. We were fuel saving and waiting for our time to push. It was a costly mistake and it stinks."