Colton Herta dominates again in Laguna Seca victory as Alex Palou closes on IndyCar title


Colton Herta cruised to his second consecutive IndyCar victory from the pole position at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, while runner-up Alex Palou put a hammerlock on the championship race.

Herta led 91 of 95 laps — the other four laps were led by Romain Grosjean, who made a spirited charge from 13th to finish third while overcoming a wild collision with Jimmie Johnson in the Corkscrew for the third podium of his rookie season.

Heading into the Sept. 26 season finale at the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, Palou has a 35-point lead over Pato O’Ward (who finished fifth) as he attempts to win his first championship in his first season with Chip Ganassi Racing and his second year in the NTT IndyCar Series.

RESULTS AND POINTS: Stats package from Laguna Seca

“It was amazing,” Palou, who started third, told NBC Sports reporter Kelli Stavast. “I was surprised that we were really competitive in comparison to qualifying. We didn’t have it today for the win, but we did the most we could. It was a bit exciting with Grosjean catching us at the end. I think it was an awesome race; the guys did amazing pit stops with really good strategy.

“It was Herta’s day and Andretti’s day today, so I’m happy with a P2 today.”

Palou can clinch the championship with an 11th or better in the season finale with only O’Ward and Josef Newgarden remaining mathematically eligible to challenge for the title (Ganassi drivers Marcus Ericsson and Scott Dixon were eliminated Sunday).

“All weekend we didn’t have it,” O’Ward, who started sixth Sunday, told Lee. “I truly feel like we absolutely juiced every single ounce of energy and pace this car had. We pulled off a near miracle in qualifying to start in the first three rows. Then in the race, honestly, that was as much as I had. I fought for life for those last few positions.

“I’m disappointed, but I’m happy that we honestly really maximized what we had. Obviously disappointed the guy we’re trying to catch outscored us again. All we can do at Long Beach is win and let everything else fall. I’ve got faith in myself. I know I’m pretty handy on a street course. Let’s see what we can pull off next week.”

Newgarden recovered for a seventh Sunday after qualifying a disappointing 17th.

“Just hard to do much more than we did starting 17th,” Newgarden told Stavast. “We can’t start back there. We know that. Just a punch to the gut (Saturday) with the way that went two weekends in a row. Still a little bit hard to digest.

“Not sure what’s caused that but proud of my team. Gavin Ward, my engineer, has been doing a stellar job. We’ve had excellent prep coming into the weekends. I’ve felt more confident than ever showing up and certainly gotten everything from my team. I think we had a fast day and executed pretty well on a four-stop strategy. Just not going to make up much more ground without some yellow help. … We’ll go to Long Beach and try to get at least second in this championship.”

As Palou made a championship in his first year at Chip Ganassi Racing seem even more of a certainty, Herta removed virtually all doubt about Sunday’s race from the drop of the green flag.

With his second victory of the season and fifth of his career, Herta matched the Indy victory total by his father, Bryan (who calls strategy on the No. 26 Dallara-Honda), at the 11-turn, 2.38-mile road course.

“I enjoy racing here so much,” Herta told NBC Sports reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s an amazing track for me and my family. It’s been so good to us. We were fast all weekend, and I was happy we could pull it off and win the race.

“I’m just happy to have done it. This place is so awesome. It’s my favorite track in North America by far and to win here means so much.”

The lone caution flag flew early for an Alexander Rossi spin in Turn 5 on Lap 2. After starting second, Rossi was challenging Herta, his Andretti Autosport teammate, for the lead when their cars made contact.

Aside from that incident, the most memorable contact occurred with seven laps remaining between Johnson and Grosjean, who suffered right sidepod damage after his No. 51 Dallara-Honda briefly went airborne in capping an eventful ride.

“The last stint was very fun because we were on new tires, fresher than everyone else, so that was exciting,” Grosjean said. “It was a bit less funny and a bit hairy at some stages, but it’s been a great day. Sorry to Jimmie for the contact. He was trying to protect Alex (his Ganassi teammate), and I wanted to go chase Alex.

“P3 today is a pretty good day. Laguna Seca, I love you. It’s all I can say.”

Johnson finished a career-best 17th.

IndyCar at Texas: How to watch, start times, TV info and live streaming, schedule


The NTT IndyCar Series will head to Texas Motor Speedway this weekend for its first oval race of the season and a preview of its biggest race.

After Sunday’s PPG 375 at Texas, the next oval on the schedule is May 28 with the 107th running of the Indy 500. Chip Ganassi Racing dominated last year’s 500-miler at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after placing all four of its Dallara-Hondas in the top 10 at Texas.

The Dallara-Chevrolets of Team Penske also will be heavy favorites at Texas. Josef Newgarden passed teammate Scott McLaughlin on the final lap for the victory last year as Penske took three of the top four (with defending series champion Will Power in fourth).

Texas marks the first of five oval races for IndyCar, which also will visit Iowa Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. There are 28 drivers entered for the 36th IndyCar race at Texas, the series’ most at the track since 30 in June 2011.

Scott Dixon has a series-high five victories at Texas, mostly recently in May 2021. Helio Castroneves (four wins), Newgarden (two) and Power (two) also are multiple winners at Texas.

Here are the details and IndyCar start times for the PPG 375 race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway (all times are ET):


TV: Sunday, noon ET on NBC and streaming on Peacock, the NBC Sports App and Leigh Diffey is the announcer with analysts Townsend Bell and James Hinchcliffe (whose first career IndyCar victory came at St. Petersburg 10 years ago).

Marty Snider and Dave Burns are the pit reporters. Telemundo Deportes on Universo will provide a Spanish-language telecast. Click here for the full NBC Sports schedule for IndyCar in 2023.

Peacock also will be the streaming broadcast for both practices and qualifying and Indy NXT races. (Click here for information on how to sign up for Peacock.)


GREEN FLAG: 12:15 p.m. ET

POSTRACE SHOW ON PEACOCK: After the race’s conclusion, an exclusive postrace show will air on Peacock with driver interviews, postrace analysis and the podium presentation. To watch the extended postrace show, click over to the special stream on Peacock after the race ends.

Peacock also will be the streaming broadcast for practices and qualifying.

INDYCAR RADIO NETWORK: The IndyCar and Indy Lights races and all practices and qualifying sessions will air live on network affiliates, SiriusXM 160, and the IndyCar app.

PRACTICE: Saturday sessions at 9 a.m., 1:45 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. (Peacock Premium), 1:45 p.m.

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II

QUALIFYING: Saturday, 12:15 p.m. (Peacock Premium)

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the grid at Texas

RACE DISTANCE: The race is 250 laps (375 miles) on a 1.5-mile oval in Fort Worth, Texas

TIRE ALLOTMENT: Eleven primary sets to be used during practice, qualifying and the race. An extra set will be available to cars in the high-line practice session.

FORECAST: According to, it’s expected to be 67 degrees with a 71% chance of rain at the green flag.

ENTRY LIST: Click here for the 28 cars entered


(All times are Eastern)

Friday, March 31

11 a.m.: NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series garage opens

1 p.m.: IndyCar garage opens

3-7 p.m.: IndyCar technical inspection

5 p.m.: IndyCar drivers, team managers meeting

Saturday, April 1

6 a.m.: IndyCar garage opens

8 a.m.: Truck garage opens

9-9:10 a.m.: IndyCar two-stage pit speed limiter practice

9:10-10 a.m.: IndyCar practice (Peacock Premium)

10:30-noon a.m.: Truck practice

12:15-1:15 p.m.: IndyCar qualifying (Peacock Premium)

1:45-2:15 p.m.: IndyCar high-line practice, two groups for 15 minutes apiece (Peacock Premium)

2:30-3:30 p.m.: IndyCar final practice (Peacock Premium)

4:30 p.m.: Truck race (147 laps, 220.5 miles)

Sunday, April 2

7:30 a.m.: IndyCar garage, technical inspection open

11:30 a.m.: Driver introductions

Noon: PPG 375 at Texas (NBC)


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