With the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series title wrapped up already, the best open-wheel drivers in North America let loose at Laguna Seca in the final race of the season.
A complete wreck fest of a race saw several cautions thrown and yet through all of the carnage, Scott Dixon found a way to overcome a penalty and contact of his own to take victory, in a way only Dixon knows how.
The Kiwi’s Lap 1 incident forced him to do a drive-through penalty and then go off strategy soon after but that eventually turned into his advantage as the whole field seemed hell-bent on crashing into each other at every given opportunity.
His fellow New Zealander Scott McLaughlin followed him home having himself been involved in the mayhem of the opening few turns. In fact, pretty much nobody got through the race without any incident whatsoever in a very “last day of school” kind of day in the scorching Californian sun.
Alex Palou had been cruising out in front for the first half of the race but an untimely caution sent him down the field, yet he still claimed third to round off his championship season ahead of outgoing champion Will Power.
A day of carnage
Championship already sorted with one race left, it was always going to be lively with little else to play for and the chaos got started as soon as it could.
Christian Lundgaard instigated a multi-car incident at the first turn ending the races of Graham Rahal and Kyle Kirkwood while several others such as Josef Newgarden, Juri Vips, McLaughlin, Rinus VeeKay and Dixon got involved.
Newgarden then caused a second caution within a few laps, spinning his damaged Team Penske car at Turn 4 while Vips retired to the pits.
Felix Rosenqvist and Marcus Ericsson were next to come to blows with the latter spinning the former at Turn 2 in a collision of the Swedes. Rosenqvist suffered a punctured tyre and spun into the gravel before getting back on track under yellow.
Ericsson was rightly punished in his final race for Ganassi for the contact which left the field hugely jumbled up to what we usually see in IndyCar. At this point, there were still 60 laps to go and the carnage was not about to stop.
As the green flag flew after the Swedish Civil War, Benjamin Pedersen was spun at the final turn by Power with Helio Castroneves helpless to avoid him. Santino Ferrucci had a high-speed off at the same time but only lost a couple of spots as the yellow came out yet again.
A remarkable 20 or so laps of racing followed before yet another incident as pit stops were being made. David Malukas and Devlin DeFrancesco added themselves to the list of drivers to be involved in an incident as the Dale Coyne Racing driver was hit into the gravel by the out-of-control Canadian.
Callum Ilott was feeling left out and decided to spin himself at the entry of the pit lane under caution as the snakes and ladders race refused to settle down. And the old ‘Cautions breed cautions’ adage came true again on the restart.
A checked-up mid-pack led to two and three-wide further back causing Tom Blomqvist to go briefly airborne and Ferrucci to end up in the gravel for the second time in the race after hitting Palou, who’d been leading by a mile prior to the yellow.
They tried to restart again but guess what? At Turn 11 again on the restart, Marcus Armstrong and Ericsson, who was a lap down anyway, ended up facing each other as many scattered to avoid further collisions.
Armstrong appeared to be hit by Pedersen in a three-wide which left Ericsson nowhere to go as Lundgaard, recovering from his Lap 1 incident, also got contact with Pedersen. There were so many cautions that the Honda Civic pace car needed to be refuelled after the seventh of the day.
A whole one lap of racing followed but Castroneves got involved for a second time, spinning into Turn 4 and hitting Colton Herta into the gravel and out of the race.
2023 Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey Race Results
|1||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|2||Scott McLaughlin||Team Penske|
|3||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|4||Will Power||Team Penske|
|5||Callum Ilott||Juncos Hollinger Racing|
|6||Christian Lundgaard||Rahal Letterman Lanigan|
|7||Alexander Rossi||Arrow McLaren|
|8||Marcus Armstrong||Cip Ganassi Racing|
|9||Pato O’Ward||Arrow McLaren|
|10||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Ed Carpenter Racing|