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Alex Palou continues hot streak with Mid-Ohio victory

The Spaniard is on a roll — a dominant, historic stretch of races in the modern-era of INDYCAR racing.

Alex Palou won his third straight victory in the NTT IndyCar Series on Sunday, winning the 2023 edition of the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The driver of Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 10 Honda-powered Dallara led 48 of the 80 laps in Sunday’s Grand Prix from the fourth-place starting position on the grid. The Spanish racer has now claimed four of the last five race victories on the season, with the other being a disappointing 4th-place finish in the Indianapolis 500 after contact on pit lane.

Alex Palou enjoys the atmosphere on the Fourth of July weekend at Mid-Ohio Friday afternoon. (Picture Credit: INDYCAR Media, IMS Productions / Travis Hinkle)

Colton Herta earned his second straight NTT P1 Award this season on Saturday, however, the No. 26 Andretti Autosport team failed to back up the result on Sunday. Herta led the first 26 laps of Sunday’s race located central in the Buckeye State, pitting for his first service of the day on lap 27. During this pit cycle, Alex Palou, who had quietly run in third-place for the opening stanza of the event, saving fuel behind the front row starters, took over the lead on lap 31.

Herta’s last pit stop of the day completely derailed the Gainbridge Honda for the second consecutive race weekend. Today, Herta nearly spun entering pit road and was hot crossing the pit speed line painted across the entrance. The 23-year-old California native reported his pit limiter button didn’t work either, and the Andretti Honda was busted by race stewards for violating the pit entry speed. After taking an extra trip down pit lane, the No. 26 finished the day in 11th place.

Graham Rahal qualified outside pole position in his home-race and ran the entire first two stints comfortably battling for podium positions, even showing his hand at challenges for the lead on Herta only on. However, the day came apart for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing No. 15 on their final pit stop, as well. The left rear tire wasn’t secured to the car when Rahal’s No. 15 Honda was dropped off the hydraulic air jacks, requiring another lift and extended service. He ended the race in the 7th position.

Making up today’s podium from Mid-Ohio are the three most recent IndyCar Series Champions, with Palou’s teammate in six-time champ Scott Dixon to his right, and two-time and reigning champion Will Power on his left.

Alex Palou continues to “Be The One” in his American Legion Honda, extending the series lead to 110-points. (Picture Credit: INDYCAR Media / Joe Skibinski)

Dixon, a six-time winner at Mid-Ohio itself, finished over 5 seconds behind the 2021 series champ at the conclusion of the eightieth circuit. Will Power, was an astonishing 13 seconds back of that.

Christian Lundgaard ties his season-best with a 4th place today, once again notching RLL’s best result of the 2023 IndyCar campaign. Scott McLuaghlin rounds out the top five finishers. Second-year driver David Malukas finished in sixth after a string of four Did Not Finish results and six consecutive races of no finish better than 19th.

Pato O’Ward had the drive of the day around Lexington, Ohio Sunday. Starting 25th on the grid after a spin in qualifications yesterday, the Arrow McLaren No. 5 Chevrolet precisely cut through traffic all race-long. Employing a three-pit stop strategy opposed to the majority of the field’s two-stopper plan, the Mexican racer got up to the best place on course of 2nd, but required an additional pit stop in the final 15 laps. The McLaren fought all the way to 8th when the checkered flew after his last pit.

Rookie of the Year leader Marcus Armstrong was the only first-year driver to score a top-20 finish in Mid-Ohio on Sunday, placing a magnificent 9th-place for the Ganassi Honda. Sting Ray Robb, 22nd, Agustin Canapino, 23rd, and Benjamin Pedersen, 26th, make up the remaining rookie finishes.

Pedersen, driving the No. 55 for A.J. Foyt Racing, made quite a few enemies on Sunday. Being a lap down to the leaders around him and attempting to stay in front Felix Rosenqvist, the No. 55 Chevy was blocking lead-lap cars and keeping on the push to pass to prevent other drivers from getting position on his car. Drivers notably upset included McLaughlin, who spoke with the 24-year-old Danish driver residing in Seattle post-race, telling the rookie he wouldn’t make friends with his racing style. Winner Alex Palou had a notable three-second chunk of his lead evaporated stuck behind Pedersen, playing games on the overtake button and pre-empting blocks on the No. 10.

Toby Christie editor Christopher DeHarde caught the New Zealand driver breaking down his emotions to the rookie racer on pit road post-race.

2022 Indy 500 Champion Marcus Ericsson entered the weekend second in the championship standings to his CGR teammate in Palou. The margin extended immediately on the opening lap when the No. 8 Huski Ice Spritz Honda dove into turn five wheel-to-wheel with countryman Felix Rosenqvist. Ericsson’s Ganassi Honda didn’t stick on the bottom, and collided with the Arrow McLaren IndyCar Team entry, lifting the front wheels of Ericsson’s machine off the ground and into the aeroscreen of Rosenqvist.

After a lap under full course caution, both cars were retrieved and the AMIT made efficient repairs to Rosneqvist’s No. 6 Chevrolet, sending him back into the race one lap down — a position he held throughout the entire event. Ericsson’s team went behind the wall to repair their Honda, losing 40 laps in doing so. When returning to the race, race control spanked the team for a 45-second stop-and-hold penalty on pit road for the avoidable contact with Rosenqvist. Ericsson only turned four more laps, likely due to poor handling of the heavily-wounded No. 8 entry.

Conor Daly was called up to replace Simon Pagenaud, who survived a horrific brake failure in Saturday morning’s practice session. The No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Honda veered off course in turn four — the circuit’s fastest complex — and dipped backward into China Beach (a gravel pit downhill from the fourth corner) before barrel rolling six and a half times. Pagenaud was helped from the No. 60 but walked under his own power. Sunday, he was in good spirits on the stand with the team and rightfully disappointed in not being able to participate. However, the Frenchman and 2016 IndyCar Champion was grateful for the AMR Safety Team and their ruling on not medically clearing the 39-year-old to start Sunday’s race.

Race Results – 2023 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

1 – (10) Alex Palou / 8th Career IndyCar Victory
2 – (9) Scott Dixon / 134th Career IndyCar Podium
3 – (12) Will Power / 97th Career IndyCar Podium
4 – (45) Christian Lundgaard / Best Result this Season
5 – (3) Scott McLaughlin / First Top-Five since Barber Win
6 – (18) David Malukas
7 – (15) Graham Rahal
8 – (5) Pato O’Ward / Gained 17 Positions
9 – (11) Marcus Armstrong [R]
10 – (7) Alexander Rossi
11 – (26) Colton Herta
12 – (2) Josef Newgarden
13 – (28) Romain Grosjean
14 – (29) Devlin DeFrancesco
15 – (21) Rinus VeeKay
16 – (77) Callum Ilott
17 – (27) Kyle Kirkwood
18 – (30) Jack Harvey
19 – (20) Ryan Hunter-Reay
20 – (60) Conor Daly
21 – (06) Helio Castroneves / 79 Laps
22 – (51) Sting Ray Robb [R] / 79 Laps
23 – (78) Agustin Canapino [R] / 79 Laps
24 – (14) Santino Ferrucci / 79 Laps
25 – (6) Felix Rosenqvist / 79 Laps
26 – (55) Benjamin Pedersen [R] / 79 Laps
27 – (8) Marcus Ericsson / Off, 5 Laps

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