until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

IndyCar

Palou dominates again as Herta has another disaster from pole

by Jack Benyon
6 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Alex Palou took his third IndyCar win in a row, his fourth victory in five races, and assumed a 115-point championship lead at the halfway point of the season at Mid-Ohio as Colton Herta had another potential win taken from him.

After a host of his closest title rivals had tricky qualifying sessions and started further back, more fortune followed Palou when Ganassi team-mate and second in the championship Marcus Ericsson took himself out on the first lap.

Ericsson crashed into Felix Rosenqvist at Turn 6, which left an incredible tyre mark on Rosenqvist’s aeroscreen.

Rosenqvist got going while Ericsson needed more repairs and finished last.

Palou himself almost got in trouble in the first stint making a pass on Kyle Kirkwood at the exit of Turn 4 where they made contact and Kirkwood spun, and dropped to ninth paving Palou’s path to third behind Herta and second-place starter Graham Rahal.

But Palou avoided a penalty and promptly fired into the lead of the race after the first set of stops because he was the highest starter on the hard tyre.

He, team-mate Scott Dixon and Will Power all did the same strategy, saved fuel, went slightly longer in the stint and required less fuel in the pits to reduce pitstop time and jump to the front, although Herta soon got by the others to assume second.

Palou turned a lead after the stops of just over three seconds to well over eight seconds, but rookie Benjamin Pedersen proved a Palou-shaped roadblock asthe last driver on the lead lap cost Palou four seconds by refusing to give way. But Palou eventually got by on lap 48 of 80, to his relief, and rebuilt the gap before pitting.

It was a seemingly serene final stop for Palou, and it was made to look even more comfortable when Andretti Autosport driver Herta was pinged for a pitlane speeding penalty despite clearly pressing the limiter button on the steering wheel, costing him a podium for a second straight race after his Road America strategy woe.

That left Palou to manage a 27-lap final stint with an eight-second gap over Dixon to play with, and he brought it home in standard fashion.

It’s hard to find any superlatives we haven’t used for Palou’s spectacular current run, which is coming with an average start of 3.55 and an average finish of 3.22. It feels undeniable in title terms.

Dixon’s clever drive earned him second in the championship standings with Ganassi – Dixon was also the last driver to win three in a row, back in 2020 – as Will Power took third for Team Penske having started seventh.

Christian Lundgaard finished one spot ahead of where he started in fourth but it was another strong and sensible drive from the sophomore of Rahal Letterman Lanigan as he kept its hopes alive while Graham Rahal’s race faded.

Power’s Penske team-mate Scott McLaughlin took fifth ahead of a resurgent David Malukas. The rookie of the year runner-up from last year started the weekend stating his intention to leave the Dale Coyne Racing team at the end of the year and ended it with his best finish by far this year.

Rahal took seventh after a struggle to get fuel in his car in his first stop and then an apparent stall in the second stop that cost him hugely on track.

Probably the driver of the day was Pato O’Ward, who spun and stalled in qualifying and started 25th.

O’Ward went from 25th to 14th in 25 laps before his first stop, and then another spectacular stint jumped him up to third in the order before he had to stop again on lap 44 of 80, making him the only driver up front on a three-stop.

He came out in 14th with one more stop to make, and worked his way back to the front in second before stopping again and dropping to 12th, from where he raced forwards to eighth by the end of the race.

Rookie Marcus Armstrong of Ganassi and Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi rounded out the top 10.

Herta finished 11th after his pitlane speeding penalty, having started from his second pole in a row with fifth and 11th to show for them.

Recent Ed Carpenter Racing departure Conor Daly was the substitute driver for Simon Pagenaud who somersaulted in practice and was ruled out of qualifying and the race due to the size of the impact.

Daly managed 20th as part of a huge fight for 12th behind Herta in the closing stages contested by a host of desperate cars all fighting for the slimmest of points gain.

Race Results

Pos Name Team Car Laps Laps Led Total Time Fastest Lap Pitstops Pts
1 Alex Palou Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 80 48 1h37m31.989s 1m08.682s 2 53
2 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 80 2 +5.024s 1m08.82s 2 41
3 Will Power Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 80 1 +18.358s 1m09.023s 2 36
4 Christian Lundgaard Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +19.083s 1m09.177s 2 32
5 Scott McLaughlin Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 80 0 +20.528s 1m09.21s 2 30
6 David Malukas Dale Coyne Racing/HMD Motorsports Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +27.153s 1m09.188s 2 28
7 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 80 3 +27.885s 1m09.08s 2 27
8 Patricio O'Ward Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 80 0 +28.512s 1m08.375s 3 24
9 Marcus Armstrong Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +42.402s 1m09.427s 2 22
10 Alexander Rossi Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 80 0 +49.148s 1m09.07s 3 20
11 Colton Herta Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 80 26 +55.597s 1m09.062s 3 21
12 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 80 0 +56.18s 1m09.601s 2 18
13 Romain Grosjean Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +1m0.37s 1m09.237s 2 17
14 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +1m02.89s 1m09.584s 2 16
15 Rinus VeeKay Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 80 0 +1m03.429s 1m09.804s 2 15
16 Callum Ilott Juncos Hollinger Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 80 0 +1m03.868s 1m08.934s 2 14
17 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Autosport Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +1m04.402s 1m09.332s 2 13
18 Jack Harvey Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +1m08.081s 1m09.622s 2 12
19 Ryan Hunter-Reay Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 80 0 +1m09.371s 1m10.068s 2 11
20 Conor Daly Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 80 0 +1m10.136s 1m09.463s 3 10
21 Hélio Castroneves Meyer Shank Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 79 0 +1 lap 1m09.996s 2 9
22 Sting Ray Robb Dale Coyne Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 79 0 +1 lap 1m09.6s 2 8
23 Agustín Canapino Juncos Hollinger Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 79 0 +1 lap 1m09.664s 2 7
24 Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 79 0 +1 lap 1m09.526s 3 6
25 Felix Rosenqvist Arrow McLaren SP Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 79 0 +1 lap 1m07.942s 3 5
26 Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt Racing Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 79 0 +1 lap 1m09.936s 3 5
Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12-Honda 5 0 DNF 1m18.544s 2 5
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