Chip Ganassi Racing absolutely dominated the Monterey Grand Prix. On any normal weekend, such a statement would bring joy, but their enthusiasm was tempered somewhat due to the lack of race-winning pace for its two championship contenders.
CGR’s Alex Palou led 67 of 95 laps and put in the drive of a lifetime with a crushing 30.3s victory over Josef Newgarden, and in that achievement, the No. 10 Honda team was undoubtedly proud. It was the hampered efforts of the No. 8 Honda driven by Marcus Ericsson and the No. 9 Honda of Scott Dixon, CGR’s only hopes to overcome eventual champion Will Power from Team Penske, where a relative lack of speed all weekend saw the back-to-back title winners fall short and hand the crown back to its closest rivals.
“As a group effort, everybody did a hell of a job this season,” said Dixon who looked towards the positives of finishing third in the standings. “We finished every lap this year which is definitely a huge milestone in itself. That’s kudos to the team but also to our partners too, with Honda and HPD and the effort that goes into to making it all possible. We’ll keep after it and we know exactly what we need to do in the offseason.
“It’s been a pleasure and a very proud moment to be a part of this team. Congratulations to Alex on winning the last race. He did a hell of a job today and it was good to see that side of the team get a win.”
Ericsson, who won the Indy 500 and was in the thick of the championship fight until the penultimate round in Portland, was unable to charge forward in the race. It was an issue that plagued both entries. Where Dixon started 13th and finished 12th, Ericsson was in similar territory as he took the green flag in ninth and crossed under the checkered flag in ninth.
Thanks to the stellar performances of Palou and Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin on Sunday, Ericsson was demoted from fourth to sixth in the Drivers’ standings.
“It was a tough race,” he said. “We fought hard out there and gave everything but just not good enough. A very disappointing end of the season. Proud of the No. 8 car crew and Chip Ganassi Racing; they’ve done a tremendous job all year.”