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O’Ward seizes lead on Palou’s pit stop woes, wins Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio in debut of hybrid engine

Last Updated 1 week by Amnon J. Jobi | Amnon Front Page

LEXINGTON, Ohio (AP) — Pato O’Ward seized the lead with 24 laps remaining as Alex Palou stalled in the pits and held on to win the Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday in the IndyCar series’ official debut of its hybrid engine.

The victory provided huge redemption for O’Ward, who was leading the final lap of the Indianapolis 500 in May before Josef Newgarden overtook him on the final half-mile for the victory. It was O’Ward’s second win this season but the first on-track after he was awarded the victory in the season-opening race at St. Peterburg, Florida, when Newgarden was disqualified for manipulating the push-to-pass system on his Chevy.

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O’Ward started second in a Chevy to Palou’s Honda and spent most of the race whacking a big time gap to the dominant Palou, who edged his counterpart by .0024 seconds for the pole and sought his second consecutive win at Mid-Ohio. His chance came when Palou pitted for tires and fuel on lap 56 of 80 but stalled, allowing O’Ward to slip by as Palou re-entered the road course.

Palou stalked O’Ward from there but couldn’t get within range to pass. O’Ward wobbled slightly near the end but took the victory by .4993 seconds, giving Arrow McLaren its first win in a season dominated by Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing.

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Scott McLaughlin was third, followed by Colton Herta, Marcus Ericsson and Alexander Rossi.

Palou nonetheless extended his IndyCar points lead to 48 over Will Power, while O’Ward surged to third, 70 back. Six-time race winner Scott Dixon started 21 laps down because his Honda failed to start and fell 71 points back to fourth after entering the weekend 32 behind Palou in third. Dixon already had a lot of ground to make up on Sunday after qualifying 14th.

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While the finish was obviously important for O’Ward and Palou, attention was focused on the first competition with the hybrid unit powering the Hondas and Chevys.

The long-awaited hybrid unit in the 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 engine produces electricity through braking or throttle position change. Power is stored in capacitors that produce quick boosts when drivers deploy a system similar to the push-to-pass button. That option can add up to 120 horsepower and more than 800 total.

O’Ward and Palou stood above everybody else in claiming the front row before O’Ward made it pay off.

IndyCar’s next race is July 14 at Newton, Iowa.