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Pato O’Ward tops Alex Palou to win Mid-Ohio in first IndyCar hybrid race

Pato O’Ward leap-frogged Alex Palou in the pits and then hung on to win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in the debut of the hybrid engines in the NTT IndyCar Series.

It’s the second victory this season for O’Ward, but the first on track for the Arrow McLaren star. O’Ward was awarded the victory in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg six weeks after the season opener when race winner Josef Newgarden was disqualified.

“That was a hard-fought race,” O’Ward, who started a season-best second, told Georgia Henneberry. “We were really, really strong on the (alternate tires). Palou was really, really strong on the (primary tires). So all I needed to do was stay at bay in the first stint and then come into the pits and put those (alternates) on and try and close the gap. Great job by the team. It’s been a while. I know we ‘won’ St. Pete, but this is a proper win, and we earned this one this weekend.

With a runner-up finish, the defending series champion leads by 48 points with eight races remaining.

“I felt very comfortable with the car this weekend. From the second practice going into qualifying, we executed and knew we had a really strong car. Hats off to Arrow McLaren, they gave me a rocket.”

Palou started on pole position for the third time this season but was unable to win as did after qualifying first on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and Laguna Seca.

Highlights: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
Watch highlights from the 2024 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, the debut of IndyCar's new hybrid engine.

The defending series champion lost the lead when he entered the pits on Lap 56 and quickly was passed by O’Ward upon re-entering the track after his last stop.

“The car was amazing, the 10 crew was amazing,” Palou told NBC Sports’ Charlie Kimball. “We couldn’t really make the alternate tires last. Pato started catching us. Couldn’t do anything, just destroyed my tires. Then we had a slow stop. I couldn’t really engage first gear. Maybe I was trying to get it too fast. Probably my fault.

“Good race, had fun, shame we couldn’t get the win for the 10 car. Good solid day.”

Palou increased his championship lead to 48 points over Will Power through nine of 17 races. “I was thinking about the race win today, not the points,” Palou said. “Maybe I’ll be happier tomorrow when I look at the points.”

Scott McLaughlin finished third, followed by Andretti Global teammates Colton Herta and Marcus Ericsson. Alexander Rossi, Christian Lundgaard, Kyle Kirkwood, Christian Rasmussen and Santino Ferruci rounded out the top 10.

The 80-lap race went off mostly without a mechanical hitch in the debut of the hybrid engine — with six-time series champion Scott Dixon being the major exception.

Dixon’s No. 9 Dallara-Honda stopped twice on the parade laps with the second time causing the race to start under caution. He would return to the race 21 laps down and finished last in the 27-car field.

After the race, IndyCar released a statement: “The performance of the new IndyCar hybrid power unit at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was impactful and highly encouraging. All stakeholders in the IndyCar paddock share in the pride and excitement for the future that this milestone has generated. It is the result of a truly unique collaboration between Chevrolet and Honda and the culmination of hundreds of hours of engineering, preparation, testing and execution.

“IndyCar looks forward to the continued evolution of the hybrid power unit as teams and drivers fine-tune the system to optimize performance beginning with the first use of horsepower assist on an oval next weekend at Iowa Speedway.”

Dixon's car stalls before green flag at Mid-Ohio
Scott Dixon's car had a mechanical failure and stalled on the pace lap before the green flag in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.