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O’Ward defeats dominant Palou in first hybrid regulations outing – Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio report

Written by Sean McKean

Credit - Chris Owens / Penske Entertainment

For IndyCar’s first ever event with hybrid components, Patricio O’Ward survived late pressure from Alex Palou to take victory at Mid-Ohio. This is the second victory of the season for the Mexican and his first on-track road course win since Alabama in 2022.

As it unfolded

Drama unfolded before the race even began. On the pacing laps, Scott Dixon’s car shut off with an unspecified engine issue, subsequently having to retire before the race even began. For a championship protagonist, this issue was a huge hit for the Kiwi driver’s title hopes.

Due to his stopped car, the first two laps were run under yellow flags.

On the drop of the green flag on Lap 3, Alex Palou shot away into the lead from pole, looking to continue his Mid-Ohio dominance. Little change was seen in the top four, but Christian Lundgaard made his way up to seventh briefly.

Dixon was effectively out of the race before it started | Credit - Travis Hinkle / Penske Entertainment

Everything settled down until the eleventh lap, when the alternate runners came into the pits. Little of note occurred here, with Josef Newgarden leading the way amongst them. A little stall for Kyffin Simpson caused the Caymanian to lose some time, but he quickly got back going.

The pace of Palou and second-placed Pato O’Ward was on full display. By Lap 20, built a seven-second gap to the rest of the field. Specifically for Palou, he was 13 seconds ahead of third-placed David Malukas. Both of the frontrunners had stops planned between Laps 27 to 30.

On Lap 23, Scott Dixon made his first appearance since the pacing laps. Although many laps down, Chip Ganassi’s goal was to take some points to aid in his championship fight – even if very few.

Five seconds back from the leader, O’Ward made his first stop on Lap 28 as did David Malukas. The Mexican had an error-free stop, but Malukas lost five seconds after a stall. He subsequently fell behind teammate Felix Rosenqvist.

Two-time champion Palou went into the pits on Lap 29 with no issues. He was followed by fourth-placed Colton Herta – also with no problems.

Following these stops, Scott McLaughlin inherited the lead, going for the overcut on Herta. He pitted on Lap 31, and his strategy was successful – now sitting in a net-third. 

After his early pit stop, Newgarden’s strategy worked with him slotting into fifth. Another beneficiary of this strategy was Linus Lundqvist, who was in eighth.

On lap 37, the Indy 500 champion continued his planned three-stop strategy. No issues on the stop. Other drivers on this strategy followed suit.

By Lap 48, O’Ward cut into the Spanish leader’s lead by three seconds, now only two-and-a-half seconds back.

O’Ward managed to get the gap down to Palou to one second by Lap 52, having saved enough of his alternate tyres, but as he got the gap down to half a second, the Mexican peeled into the pits for his final stop with no issues. 

On Lap 56, Palou went into the pits but stalled following his stop, subsequently falling behind the McLaren driver on now-fired up tyres. O’Ward took the lead and built a gap while the Spaniard was putting heat into his tyres. 

O'Ward stole the lead from Palou on Lap 56 | Credit - James Black / Penske Entertainment

The first incident of note occurred on Lap 61. Josef Newgarden clipped the curb at the last half of the circuit and went through the grass. He continued on but lost time. 

It only took ten laps for Alex Palou to catch back up, sitting only eight-tenths of a second back from O’Ward ahead by Lap 63. But at a track like Mid-Ohio, it was very difficult to pass. Although only three car lengths back, Palou couldn’t find a way by. 

Having pushed to catch the McLaren ahead, it seemed that Palou overheated his tyres – dropping back to 1.3 seconds by Lap 69 – however, he reigned the tyres back in only a few laps later to get back into the chase by the 10-to-go mark.

O’Ward caught up to lapped traffic – specifically Kyffin Simpson and Agustin Canapino – with seven laps remaining. This allowed Palou to close back into only half a second, possibly a strategic move since Simpson is one of Palou’s CGR teammates.

With three laps to go, the first crash occurred. Romain Grosjean spun off the curb and hit the wall. He continued on.

As the white flag was waved, Palou was right to the gearbox of O’Ward ahead. But it wouldn’t be enough to topple the Mexican, who survived the pressure to take his first on-track victory since 2022. Palou finished second after dominating most of the event. Scott McLaughlin quietly rounded out the podium.

Provisional Results

  1. O’Ward

  2. Palou

  3. McLaughlin

  4. Herta

  5. Ericsson

  6. Rossi

  7. Lundgaard

  8. Kirkwood

  9. Rasmussen

  10. Ferrucci

  11. Power

  12. Malukas

  13. Sowery

  14. Rosenqvist

  15. Lundqvist

  16. Robb

  17. Armstrong

  18. Rahal

  19. VeeKay

  20. Siegel

  21. Simpson

  22. Canapino +1 lap

  23. Grosjean +1 lap

  24. Fittipaldi +1 lap

  25. Newgarden +1 lap

  26. Harvey +1 lap

  27. Dixon [DNF]


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