Palou tightens grip on IndyCar championship with third consecutive win

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Alex Palou’s magical mid-summer run in the IndyCar series continues. The 2021 champion won his fourth race of the season – and his third in a row – today in the Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, swelling the Ganassi driver’s already substantial points lead.

Pole-winner Colton Herta was determined to close the deal on his first IndyCar win in over a year, while outside front row starter Graham Rahal was trying to break a six-year win-less run in his home race. But after the first stint, Palou emerged at the front of the field.

He started the race on the harder, primary-compound tyres and was able to close in on the two leaders once he got past third-placed Kyle Kirkwood on track. Kirkwood spun from light contact with Palou and dropped several positions, ultimately finishing 17th.

Any chance Herta had of regaining the lead came apart after his second pit stop when he received a drive-through penalty for speeding at the entrance of pit lane. He went on to finish 11th after leading the first 26 laps in a row.

Meanwhile, Palou cruised at the front of the field, leading 48 laps and taking the win by just over five seconds from his Chip Ganassi Racing team mate, the six-time Mid-Ohio winner Scott Dixon.

Palou became the first driver to win three consecutive IndyCar races since Scott Dixon opened the pandemic-affected 2020 season with three straight wins, in a year where he went on to take his sixth IndyCar title. Palou’s victory gives him a 110-point lead over Dixon, who moved into second place after their team mate Marcus Ericsson crashed out on the opening lap.

Ericsson went wide at the apex of turn six and collided with Felix Rosenqvist. The Ganassi car was launched into the air and across Rosenqvist’s aeroscreen. While Rosenqvist was able to get back on track and finish the race a lap down in 25th, Ericsson had to retire with right-front suspension damage. To their credit, the number eight Ganassi crew tried to send Ericsson back out after 40-plus laps worth of repairs, but he officially retired after completing just five laps. It was his first retirement of the season.

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That meant Ericsson has fallen to fourth in the championship table behind Josef Newgarden, the Indianapolis 500 winner who had an anonymous race – save for a late skirmish at the end with Romain Grosjean, Devlin DeFrancesco, and Rinus Veekay – and finished 12th.

Will Power finished in third place, ahead of Christian Lundgaard, who led a resurgent Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team in fourth – matching his best finish of the season. Scott McLaughlin completed the top five, while sixth-placed David Malukas scored his best finish since the second round at Texas Motor Speedway.

Graham Rahal lost out in the shuffle after the first round of pit stops, and a slow second stop resigned the Ohio native to a seventh-place finish. But considering that Rahal had gone from failing to qualify for the Indianapolis 500, to starting second and running in the top ten for virtually the entire race, this had to be an encouraging sign.

The recovery of the race belonged to McLaren’s Pato O’Ward. After starting 25th due to a spin in qualifying, O’Ward used an alternate three-stop strategy to his advantage. He emerged in the top 10 once all the leaders had made their pit stops, and he came home in eighth to salvage a much-needed result at a venue where passing is difficult.

Marcus Armstrong was the highest-ranked rookie in ninth place, while Alexander Rossi completed the top ten.

Meanwhile, Conor Daly – who filled in for an injured Simon Pagenaud at Meyer Shank Racing – finished 20th and on the lead lap, ahead of team mate Helio Castroneves in 21st. Daly got the call this morning after Pagenaud was ruled out of the race following his spectacular, 80G rollover crash in Saturday morning practice.

The IndyCar series returns in two weeks time to the streets of Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio race results

Position Car Driver Team Engine
1 10 Alex Palou Ganassi Honda
2 9 Scott Dixon Ganassi Honda
3 12 Will Power Penske Chevrolet
4 45 Christian Lundgaard RLL Honda
5 3 Scott McLaughlin Penske Chevrolet
6 18 David Malukas Coyne/HMD Honda
7 15 Graham Rahal RLL Honda
8 5 Pato O’Ward McLaren Chevrolet
9 11 Marcus Armstrong Ganassi Honda
10 7 Alexander Rossi McLaren Chevrolet
11 26 Colton Herta Andretti Honda
12 2 Josef Newgarden Penske Chevrolet
13 28 Romain Grosjean Andretti Honda
14 29 Devlin DeFrancesco Andretti Honda
15 21 Rinus VeeKay Carpenter Chevrolet
16 77 Callum Ilott Juncos Hollinger Chevrolet
17 27 Kyle Kirkwood Andretti Honda
18 30 Jack Harvey RLL Honda
19 20 Ryan Hunter-Reay Carpenter Chevrolet
20 60 Conor Daly Meyer Shank Honda
21 6 Felix Rosenqvist McLaren Chevrolet
22 51 Sting Ray Robb Coyne/RWR Honda
23 78 Agustin Canapino Juncos Hollinger Chevrolet
24 14 Santino Ferrucci Foyt Chevrolet
25 06 Helio Castroneves Meyer Shank Honda
26 55 Benjamin Pedersen Foyt Chevrolet
27 8 Marcus Ericsson Ganassi Honda

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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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4 comments on “Palou tightens grip on IndyCar championship with third consecutive win”

  1. That was an impressive demonstration of dominance over the field, again. Well done, Alex! 👍

  2. Jeffrey Powell
    3rd July 2023, 10:54

    Track limits what a bore.Ohio 200 thoroughly more entertaining than GP. which I turned off after about half distance, fell asleep actually, I watched the Indy qualy.on Saturday and was awake through the entire race on Sunday evening. Great stuff.

    1. Yeah, no contest. Indy is always better than F1. Alex is becoming quite dominate though. An amazing feat considering the similarity of the cars. Hopefully he stays in IndyCar rather than ending up with a crap car with no chance to win going to F1.

  3. Super impressive. Maybe my memory is short, but I don’t remember such a domination in IndyCar. And to be able to do it is super significant.
    I wish Herta was more lucky though. His rise to greatness seems to have seized to be honest.

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