O'Ward outduels Palou to capture Mid-Ohio IndyCar win

Mexican racer Pato O'Ward captured the IndyCar Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio for his second triumph of the season (Tim Heitman)
Mexican racer Pato O'Ward captured the IndyCar Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio for his second triumph of the season (Tim Heitman)

Mexico's Pato O'Ward seized the lead off the final pit stop and held off Spain's Alex Palou down the stretch on Sunday to win the Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

The 25-year-old from Monterrey captured his sixth career IndyCar triumph after 80 laps at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a 13-turn, 2.258-mile road circuit in Lexington, Ohio.

"I felt very comfortable with the car this weekend," O'Ward said. "From the second practice they had a really strong car under me for the race. Hats off to Arrow McLaren. They gave me a rocket."

It was the first time since July 2022 that O'Ward had taken a checkered flag, although it was not the end of a two-year win drought.

O'Ward was elevated to a victory in the season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida, after Josef Newgarden was stripped of the triumph for Team Penske's violation of IndyCar power boost rules.

The last time O'Ward -- runner-up at the 2022 and 2024 Indianapolis 500s -- had crossed a finish line first was at Iowa on July 24, 2022.

"It has been a while," O'Ward said. "I know we won St. Pete, but this is a proper win. We earned this one."

Pole-sitter and last year's race winner Palou surged ahead from the start and kept his advantage until the final set of pit stops with O'Ward just behind him.

O'Ward pitted first and Palou refueled with 24 laps remaining but the Mexican sped past Palou as the Spaniard returned to the racetrack to grab the lead for good.

Palou pulled within a half-second of O'Ward in the final laps but could not overtake down the stretch.

"That was a hard-fought race," O'Ward said. "Get him in the pits and close it out on the track."

Palou, chasing his third IndyCar points crown in four campaigns, stretched his season points edge from 23 to 48 points over Australian Will Power with O'Ward 70 points adrift in third.

"A shame. It was a good race," Palou said. "We had a slow stop. Couldn't really engage first gear. Tried to do it fast. Probably my fault."

The race was the first using a new series hybrid engine, mixing an electric booster to the traditional IndyCar power plant.

New Zealand's Scott Dixon, a record six-time winner at Mid-Ohio, went out at the start with an electrical power failure.

The season's next races, the 10th and 11th of 17 in the campaign, will be Saturday and next Sunday at Newton, Iowa.