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Race report
IndyCar Mid-Ohio

IndyCar Mid-Ohio: O’Ward beats Palou after thrilling duel

Slow pitstop costs reigning champion and points leader Palou dearly as O’Ward pounces to score second win of the season

Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet

Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward fended off Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou to win the first race of the hybrid era in a thriller at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The 25-year-old Mexican came back from over a six-second deficit to lead 24 of 80 laps and capture victory by 0.4993s.

It was the sixth career win and second of the season for O’Ward, who was credited with the St. Petersburg win following Josef Newgarden’s disqualification in the push-to-pass scandal.

Palou, who started on pole after beating O’Ward by 0.0024s in qualifying, fell behind at the start of the final stint having left for 53 laps having opened the race with dominant pace

But a poor second stop cost him crucial time and allowed O'Ward to gain track position.

Scott McLaughlin took a distant third to join O’Ward and Palou on the podium. Andretti Global’s Colton Herta and Marcus Ericsson captured fourth and fifth, respectively.

Palou continues to hold the championship lead following Mid-Ohio with 329 points. O’Ward moves up to second with 259 points.

The first race laps of the hybrid era began under caution after the #9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda of Scott Dixon, a six-time winner at Mid-Ohio and third in the standings pre-event, stopped at Turn 5 due to an electrical glitch that shut down his engine. He was pushed behind the wall before the green flag waved.

Palou led the field to the green flag at the alternate start-finish line on the back straight on lap 3, making a clean getaway through Turn 4 and putting an early gap on the field.

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, stopped before the race had started

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, stopped before the race had started

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images

Buried in the middle of the pack after starting 17th, Penske’s Josef Newgarden opted for an early pit stop – putting him on the three-stop strategy – on lap 12 and switched from the softer alternates to a set of lightly used harder primary tires.

By lap 18, the lead for Palou grew to 5.5s over fellow front-row mate O’Ward, with Malukas and Herta still in tow running third and fourth, respectively. Malukas was a distant 12.8s back.  Dixon was able to return from his suspected early hybrid issue, albeit over 20 laps down.

O’Ward made his first pit stop on lap 28, with Malukas following. Although O’Ward got away clean after swapping from primary tires to alternates, Malukas stalled getting out of his pit box to drop him out of the leading battle.

Palou pitted from the lead the following lap, opting to switch to alternates and handing off the top spot to McLaughlin, who pitted on lap 30 and gave the lead back to Palou.

The top five after the first wave of pit stops was led by Palou, with O’Ward at 5s back, followed by McLaughlin, Herta and Newgarden.  

Newgarden handed the fifth position to Ericsson after diving in for his second pit stop on lap 36, remaining on primaries and returning to the track 15th.

The lead for Palou began to shrink as O’Ward closed the gap to within 3.5s by lap 45. Although O’Ward got to within 0.4s of Palou over the next few laps, he dove to pit lane on lap 54 and changed to the harder primary tires.  

Palou then came in on lap 55 and had a slow exit after receiving a set of alternates as he struggled to engage first gear. O’Ward steamed past Palou, with the former carrying on-track momentum with a pass on the outside of Turn 1, leaving a trail of kicked-up dust for Palou to drive through.

After McLaughlin brought his No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet into the pits on lap 56, the lead was handed to O’Ward, who held a 1.6s advantage on Palou.

Following a brief off-track excursion, Newgarden made his final pit stop on lap 62 and swapped to the softer compound. Race Control handed him a drive-through penalty after a pit lane speed violation, compounding his rough weekend.

The battle for the lead began to heat up with 15 laps to go as Palou caught up to the rear wing of O’Ward. However, it widened back moments later as Palou got slightly out of shape after touching the curbing in Turn 13.  

O’Ward and Palou remained within 0.5s of each other, with McLaughlin a distant third at 17s behind with eight laps to go.

Traffic came into play as O’Ward caught backmarkers Agustin Canapino and CGR’s Kyffin Simpson, which brought Palou closer at just 0.3s behind with seven laps to go.

O’Ward was still unable to move by the backmarkers as the laps ticked down but managed to keep Palou behind him to record a hard-fought victory by just under half a second.

IndyCar Mid-Ohio results

Cla   Nº   Driver   Car / Engine   Laps   Time  Interval
5 Patricio O'Ward Dallara/Chevrolet 80 1:33'22.6191  
10 Alex Palou Dallara/Honda 80 1:33'23.1184 0.4993
3 Scott McLaughlin Dallara/Chevrolet 80 1:33'38.7749 16.1558
26 Colton Herta Dallara/Honda 80 1:33'47.4916 24.8725
28 Marcus Ericsson Dallara/Honda 80 1:33'54.3000 31.6809
7 Alexander Rossi Dallara/Chevrolet 80 1:33'54.8634 32.2443
45 C.Lundgaard Dallara/Honda 80 1:33'55.1905 32.5714
27 Kyle Kirkwood Dallara/Honda 80 1:33'57.8409 35.2218
20 C.Rasmussen Dallara/Chevrolet 80 1:34'02.9373 40.3182
10  14 Santino Ferrucci Dallara/Chevrolet 80 1:34'09.5275 46.9084
11  12 Will Power Dallara/Chevrolet 80 1:34'11.2737 48.6546
12  66 David Malukas Dallara/Honda 80 1:34'12.0097 49.3906
13  51 Toby Sowery Dallara/Honda 80 1:34'12.5057 49.8866
14  60 Felix Rosenqvist Dallara/Honda 80 1:34'14.4353 51.8162
15  8 Linus Lundqvist Dallara/Honda 80 1:34'16.0985 53.4794
16  41 Sting Ray Robb Dallara/Chevrolet 80 1:34'17.3604 54.7413
17  11 Marcus Armstrong Dallara/Honda 80 1:34'18.4590 55.8399
18  15 Graham Rahal Dallara/Honda 80 1:34'21.4872 58.8681
19  21 R.van Kalmthout Dallara/Chevrolet 80 1:34'23.0741 1'00.4550
20  6 Nolan Siegel Dallara/Chevrolet 80 1:34'28.4782 1'05.8591
21  4 Kyffin Simpson Dallara/Honda 80 1:34'29.6604 1'07.0413
22  78 Agustín Canapino Dallara/Chevrolet 79 1:33'25.8966  
23  77 Romain Grosjean Dallara/Chevrolet 79 1:33'33.1085  
24  30 P.Fittipaldi Dallara/Honda 79 1:33'35.6225  
25  2 Josef Newgarden Dallara/Chevrolet 79 1:33'41.0299  
26  18 Jack Harvey Dallara/Honda 79 1:34'05.1083  
27  9 Scott Dixon Dallara/Honda 40 1:12'58.7920

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