Power Wins Title as Palou Wins Race at Laguna Seca

Will Power caps storybook weekend with his second series championship at Laguna Seca.
Will Power, Team Penske
Will Power, Team Penske

Alex Palou dominated the season-ending race at Laguna Seca but it was Will Power that shined the brightest. Running a smooth race and finishing on the podium, Power secured the title to become a two-time series champion. After breaking the record for the most poles in history yesterday, the Team Penske driver delivered the team's 17th IndyCar title.

"In the offseason my wife Liz said to me you’re going to beat Mario’s record and win the championship, and it actually gave me confidence that she said I could do that," Power said. "That’s how much confidence I had in her gut feel. She said those words, and I just can’t believe it came true."

Power maintained his position inside the top three, despite an ill-handling race car. "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."

The drive of the day went to Power's teammate, Josef Newgarden. After starting the race from the last row, the No. 2 Chevrolet knifed his way through the field with a barrage of daring moves in the corkscrew. His runner-up finish left him 16 points short of a third title, but Newgarden was proud of his team and their series-high eight victories this season.

"I hate to say it but in a lot of ways this has been a really tough year. Mentally, this has been a taxing season. We have had a lot of highs and lows. I'm ultimately just proud of the team. This is a big day for the team to win the championship. This is an effort by everybody. The ultimate goal is to win a championship at Team Penske. We came back, we fought, we nearly got there."

Power Wins Title as Palou Wins Race at Laguna Seca

Scott Dixon did not have a great day, which was somewhat surprising. The Ganassi driver was never able to get to the front of the field, and their strategy never gave them an opportunity in the race. He ended up in 12th, and finished 3rd in the final standings.

This is the fourth straight year that Newgarden finished 1st or 2nd in the championship, and Dixon has finished inside the top-four in 16 of the last 17 seasons.

Fittingly, both Ganassi and Penske celebrated today. This is the 10th consecutive season that a driver from one of those teams has won the championship. The two organizations have now won 14 of the last 15 titles.

2022 Firestone Grand Prix at Laguna Seca - Race Results
Pos Driver Team Engine
1Alex PalouChip Ganassi RacingHonda
2Josef NewgardenTeam PenskeChevrolet
3Will PowerTeam PenskeChevrolet
4Felix RosenqvistArrow McLaren SPChevrolet
5Christian LundgaardRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda
6Scott McLaughlinTeam PenskeChevrolet
7Romain GrosjeanAndretti AutosportHonda
8Pato O'WardArrow McLaren SPChevrolet
9Marcus EricssonChip Ganassi RacingHonda
10Alexander RossiAndretti AutosportHonda
11Colton HertaAndretti AutosportHonda
12Scott DixonChip Ganassi RacingHonda
13David MalukasDale Coyne w/ HMD MotosportsHonda
14Rinus VeeKayEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet
15Devlin DeFrancescoAndretti AutosportHonda
16Jimmie JohnsonChip Ganassi RacingHonda
17Simon PagenaudMeyer Shank RacingHonda
18Graham RahalRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda
19Helio CastronevesMeyer Shank RacingHonda
20Jack HarveyRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingHonda
21Kyle KirkwoodAJ Foyt RacingChevrolet
22Simona De SilvestroParetta AutosportChevrolet
23Takuma SatoDale Coyne w/ Rick Ware RacingHonda
24Conor DalyEd Carpenter RacingChevrolet
25Dalton KellettAJ Foyt RacingChevrolet

The win today snaps an 18-race winless streak for Palou. It was the first win of the season for Palou, who avoided becoming the first winless reigning champion since 2004. It also moved him to 4th in the final standings.

Palou dominated the race, leading 67 laps and cruising to a massive lead, winning by a margin of 30.381 seconds. He started the race in 11th after incurring a six-place grid penalty for an engine change.

"Today was awesome," Palou said. "Awesome job by all the team. Strategy was on point. It’s good to finish the season with a win. Struggled a bit during the whole weekend, and I don’t know what happened today, but everything clicked, so super happy to win a race this year."

Power Wins Title as Palou Wins Race at Laguna Seca

Felix Rosenqvist had another top-five finish to end his brilliant bounce-back season. The Arrow McLaren SP driver could be back with the team next season, but if they are able to add Palou, the Swede will be at the top of every team's wish list for next year.

Rounding out the top-five today was Christian Lundgaard, who secured the Rookie of the Year Award over David Malukas. Lundgaard was the lone bright spot for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing this season.

Longshot title contender Scott McLaughlin finished 6th in today's race, and ended up 5th in the final standings. Marcus Ericsson finished 9th today but had contact with several drivers over the course of the afternoon. The Indy 500 winner scored 12 top-ten finishes this season.

Alexander Rossi ran his final race with Andretti Autosport, which ended with a top-ten finish. After seven years with the organization, the 2016 Indy 500 winner is joining Arrow McLaren SP next season.

"It was quite a day," Rossi said. "It hurts to finish in 10th place. We tried to be pretty aggressive with the alternate tires at the start, but unfortunately it didn’t quite pay off for us. Overall, it was a great weekend for the team, and it was good to end my time here with Andretti with some positivity and some points. I’m definitely going to miss the team and everyone I’ve worked with. Wishing everybody all the best for the future and I look forward to competing against Andretti next year."

Rossi's now former teammate Colton Herta had a rough weekend. He struggled to stay on the track during qualifying, and in the race today. After winning the two previous races here from pole and leading 174 of the 185 laps, Herta was nowhere to be found today and finished 11th. He is one of several drivers that are not exactly sure where they will be racing next season.

Herta has been rumored to be in line for a Formula One seat with AlphaTauri, but it doesn't appear as though he will be awarded the necessary points to earn his superlicense. Rosenqvist may be staying at Arrow McLaren, but that depends on what happens with Palou.

Palou has been in a legal battle with Chip Ganassi, over the contract status for the 2023 season. It has been the story of the season and remains the biggest question mark going forward. Ganassi says he is still under contract for next season, which made for an especially awkward celebration today in victory lane.

Chevrolet secured the manufacturer's title this year, breaking a four-year run by Honda. They won 11 of the 17 races this season, nine with Penske and two by Pato O'Ward.

The 2022 season has concluded, and a wild offseason is set to begin. From silly season to schedule announcements, there are still plenty of items to uncover before the 2023 season can take shape.

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