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McLaughlin beats Palou, Power charges to third

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The first start was canceled because the second half of the grid was still tight as the leaders exited Turn 2, as IndyCar racing begins in Mid-Ohio on the long “straight” that runs from Turn 2 to the curve 4.

From pole, Pato O’Ward’s Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet got off to a strong start ahead of Scott McLaughlin’s Team Penske-Chevrolet, while Felix Rosenqvist, the best starter in the primaries, immediately edged out Andretti Autosport-Honda of Colton Herta to be third and threaten McLaughlin. , who stopped him, while Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud took fifth and sixth place.

The next time around, Palou was threatening Pagenaud, while Kyle Kirkwood moved his AJ Foyt Racing-Chevy past Dale Coyne Racing’s David Malukas on HMD-Honda, despite being on prime tyres. Further back, Will Power’s day went from bad to worse, when he collided with Takuma Sato’s Coyne car and spun midway through Turn 9, falling to the back of the field.

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Up front, O’Ward wasn’t running away from McLaughlin, running just 1 second ahead on lap 8, while teammate Rosenqvist was doing a good job in third on his primary tyres, 0.8 seconds behind McLaughlin, 0.8 seconds ahead of Herta. However, on the very next lap, the immensely unlucky Swede’s car suddenly slowed at turn 2 and the #7 AMSP-Chevy expired, and though it dragged itself into turn 4, the car stopped there, with its Visibly and audibly gutted driver posting the first DNF of the day. Under the later warning, Graham Rahal, Power and Jack Harvey pitted, the two RLL cars taking on the Firestone alternates, while Power replaced their primaries with primaries. On the restart, Power would pass Rahal and Jimmie Johnson.

The restart on lap 11 saw six-time Mid-Ohio winner Dixon get around Herta to move into third place, with the AA driver having to work hard to compete with Pagenaud and retain fourth place. Malukas took advantage of his reds heating up faster than the Kirkwood primary to edge out his 2021 Indy Lights rival for seventh place. In ninth, Alexander Rossi, putting pressure on Kirkwood, with Callum Ilott rounding out the Top 10 ahead of Josef Newgarden and Rinus VeeKay, both in the primaries.

Newgarden and VeeKay pitted at the end of lap 23 and emerged on lap 23dr and 24thewhile Romain Grosjean pitted his Andretti Autosport-Honda next time around, Palou and Helio Castroneves pitted on lap 25, and Malukas, Rossi and Ilott did the same on lap 26.

Up front, O’Ward was just 0.77sec ahead of McLaughlin, with Dixon just a further 1.1sec back and Herta just 0.9sec behind the Ganassi driver. After 29 laps, O’Ward and Dixon pitted, with McLaughlin, Marcus Ericsson and Power stopping the next time. However, this was just before Race Control issued a full course caution as Kirkwood, who had just stopped to change from primary to alternate, went off course and stopped at Turn 9.

The big beneficiary of the undercut, who stopped four laps ahead of O’Ward and Dixon, was Palou, who had taken on another set of Firestone reds, put in some blistering laps and jumped into second behind McLaughlin, whose team Penske #3 had done it. ahead of O’Ward who was now third ahead of Herta, Dixon and other Newgarden and VeeKay first stoppers.

Another driver who benefited from making a late stop before yellow was signaled was Power, who had legitimately moved up to 18th.the before, but now he’s won another six places.

On the lap 36 restart, McLaughlin, now in the tougher primaries, slid out of Turn 2, the Keyhole hairpin, which allowed Palou to close in, but before he could attempt to pass, the caution flew again as Harvey ran Foyt Racing’s AJ Dalton Kellett off the track at Keyhole. That didn’t happen before Rossi passed Malukas for 10the.

On the next restart on lap 40, Dixon defended fifth place so strongly from Newgarden to Turn 4, that neither realized that VeeKay was carrying much more momentum into Turn 5, and the fearless ECR driver -Chevy drove on the outside of both Newgarden and Dixon at Turn 6 to win fifth place. His charge wouldn’t stop there either, as O’Ward was struggling with engine trouble, possibly due to fueling problems. O’Ward would lose to Dixon and Newgarden on lap 44 and Marcus Ericsson on lap 45.

Great progress was also made by Power, who after the most recent restart had demoted Malukas, Pagenaud and Rossi to move down to ninth place. That became eighth as the crippled O’Ward continued to fall down the field.

On lap 50 of 80 McLaughlin who was tired from the primary had a one second lead on Palou (reds), Herta was running a further 2 seconds back with a 4 second lead on VeeKay who had moved a couple of seconds away. Dixon seconds.

Newgarden pitted at the end of lap 52 as the next pit window opened and took on a group of new substitutes. To cover the possible undercut, and in response to an impending yellow flag for Tatiana Calderón coming off the track at Turn 4, the rest of the favorites also pitted. Herta, however, was left out of it and her race was now ruined, as she would lose several places when the field was full and the pits were closed.

Pit stops saw McLaughlin emerge ahead of Palou with Power out ahead of Newgarden, while both O’Ward and Ilott exited with engine problems.

On the restart, Palou put pressure on McLaughlin and Power passed VeeKay for fourth at Turn 4, while team-mates Rossi and Grosjean came together at Turn 2 and drew another yellow. Beneath this yellow, Herta stopped and dropped. After the restart he was pushed at Turn 2 by Grosjean, who then took offense when Rossi dived on the inside again. Both Grosjean (for the collision with Herta) and Rossi (for later pushing another teammate, Devlin DeFrancesco at Turn 6) would serve drive-through penalties.

On the lap 63 restart, Palou dropped a wheel out of Turn 1, but kept it all together to easily hold off Power until Turn 2. Behind Power, the lead driver on alternate tires, VeeKay stopped Scott Dixon , who was closely pursued by Ericsson and Newgarden. Next came Castroneves, who edged out Malukas and his teammate Pagenaud to move into eighth place. With 10 laps to go, the top three were separated by a second, with VeeKay a further 3 seconds behind.

The battle up front was a stalemate, with Palou burning off his overtaking momentum trying to catch McLaughlin, but McLaughlin had enough in hand to keep him at arm’s length, just like in their main season-opening battle in St. Petersburg. . His battle took them about three seconds ahead of Power, who was now taking care of his red tires and conserving his own passing drive that he had used so much of in the opening laps.

McLaughlin crossed the finish line 0.5512 seconds ahead of Palou to claim his second IndyCar victory in superb fashion, bringing Penske’s win tally at Mid-Ohio to 12, one ahead of Ganassi.

Power delivered a third place out of 21St. on the grid – from 27the on Lap 1, to close within 20 points of championship leader Ericsson, who finished just behind Dixon and just ahead of Newgarden. VeeKay might be pleased with a good fourth, especially after his surprising pass from Dixon and Newgarden.

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