Race Weekend Central

Alex Palou Takes 4th Win of 2023 at Mid-Ohio

Alex Palou won the Honda Indy 200 Mid-Ohio on Sunday (July 2) his fourth win of the last five races and the third consecutive win for the 26-year-old driver since the Detroit Grand Prix.

Palou was followed to the checkered flag by Scott Dixon and Will Power. This win stretches Palou’s points lead to 110 points over newly-second-placed Dixon.

“We had a really fast car,” Palou told NBC after the race. “We knew we needed to try something different to the guys that started up front. That’s why we started on primaries. Everything went well – strategy, pit stops – and our pace was really good. So yeah, super happy.

“I think maybe we started to [dominate this season], but honestly, no we are not. It’s really tight, as you can see — it’s all about putting everything together. We’ve been able to do this quite often this year, hopefully we can keep it going. But honestly, we’ve not been the fastest on all practices or qualifying, it’s just on the race […] that’s where it matters.”

Palou started Sunday’s race from fourth place, and spent the first stint of the race running behind polesitter Colton Herta as well as Graham Rahal and Kyle Kirkwood. Palou opted to start the race on Firestone’s black-walled primary tires while the top three starters began the race on the red-walled alternates. Using the slower but more durable primary tires, Palou saved fuel through the race’s first stint by opting to focus on consistent pace rather than applying pressure to the frontrunners.

This conservative strategy from Palou allowed the No. 10 team to save two whole seconds on their first pit stop of the day and jump the Nos. 26 and 15 teams of Herta and Rahal, respectively. Once in the lead, Palou managed to establish a consistent, but fast, pace in clean air and controlled the race comfortably from lap 30 onward.

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Second and third-place finishers Dixon and Power made a shock appearance at the front of the field after the first round of pit stops by adopting a reduced pace similar to Palou’s through the first stint. This likewise afforded the Ganassi and Penske drivers a blistering set of pit stops which propelled them to third and fourth, respectively, before the race’s halfway point.

Aiding Dixon and Power in their runs to the front were two instances of disaster for the front-row starters. Herta masterfully controlled the first stint of the race, with Rahal running a relieving second-place behind the Andretti driver. However, as their paces fell off on the black tires, both drivers began to sink back through the field.

Herta had almost salvaged a solid finish when, on lap 55, he was assessed a drive-through penalty for speeding on pit road. Herta finished 11th, 55 seconds off the lead.

For Rahal, the final nail in his race’s proverbial coffin came on lap 57 when he brought his No. 15 Honda to the pits for fresh tires and fuel. What seemed to be a routine stop dragged on for seconds after the car had been dropped off the jack. Though the commentary team initially feared that the Ohioan had stalled his car, it was revealed that the car had dropped before the left-rear tire had been secured. The several seconds required to secure the tire properly proved a serious blow to Rahal in terms of track position and confidence at the team level after their well-documented struggles throughout the month of May.

“We win as a team, we lose as a team,” Rahal told NBC. “Obviously, I thought the Fifth Third Bank car should’ve been further forward today. It’s a quick reminder we have to be better at every phase of the program.

“I’m disappointed, that’s a fact. It’s going to sting to think about it over the next couple of weeks. We’ve just got to continue to improve in every aspect of the game and it is what it is.”

The only caution of the day came on the first lap of the race, when Marcus Ericsson made contact with Felix Rosenqvist. The 2022 Indy 500 winner’s car was vaulted on top of his fellow Swede’s Arrow McLaren machine, with both cars sustaining damage in the process.

The IndyCar paddock was spared a potentially disastrous outcome when Rosenqvist’s aeroscreen deflected the flooring of Ericsson’s car from entering the cockpit area of the No. 6 Chevrolet.

Despite having measurable suspension damage, Ericsson’s team intended to continue on in the race as soon as the car was in running condition. However, the car never made it beyond lap 5, and a 45-second stop-and-go penalty for avoidable contact was handed to Ericsson by race control, despite the car not being on track.

See also
WTRAndretti Wins 12 Hours of Sebring

Marcus Armstrong threw more momentum behind his campaign for Rookie of the Year honors by placing his part-time No. 11 entry in ninth place. Armstrong was the only rookie to finish the race on the lead lap and currently sits 17th in points.

IndyCar Results at Mid-Ohio

The next round of the 2023 IndyCar season will be the Honda Indy Toronto. The race will take place at the Exhibition Place street circuit in Toronto, Canada at 1:30 pm ET on July 16, with coverage exclusively on Peacock.

About the author

Alex is the IndyCar Content Director at Frontstretch, having initially joined as an entry-level contributor in 2021. He also serves as Managing Director of The Asia Cable, a publication focused on the international affairs and politics of the Asia-Pacific region which he co-founded in 2023. With previous experience in China, Japan and Poland, Alex is particularly passionate about the international realm of motorsport and the politics that make the wheels turn - literally - behind the scenes.

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