LEXINGTON, Ohio. — Scott McLaughlin was the lucky man of the day as we gathered his second win of the season at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on Sunday.
It was a wild race, to say the least, as McLaughlin led 45 of the race’s 80 laps, taking the lead on Lap 30 when his team ordered him into the pits ahead of an anticipated caution flag right around the time he was scheduled to come in.
“This is amazing. I’m really proud of the team,” McLaughlin said. “The car they gave me was a little hard to drive toward the end. I would love to make it a little bit easier for myself, but I’m super proud of them.”
Pato O’Ward started on pole making him the ninth different pole sitter this season in the NTT IndyCar Series. O’Ward led the race’s first 28 laps, but was plagued by mechanical problems in the early going, at one point screaming on the radio “I’m losing power! I’m losing power!”
The issues were terminal by Lap 54, ending O’Ward’s day early to an eventual 24th place finish.
On the subsequent restart on Lap 34 shortly after the end of the caution brought out by Kyle Kirkwood, the race set up for a long duel between McLaughlin and Alex Palou.
“It’s super tough to pass here, at least if you are on the same tire strategy,” said Palou after the race. I think we were a bit faster but couldn’t really pass Scott. He did an amazing race, too.
After the second round of stops on Lap 54, the tire strategy became the focal point of how the race would play out. The strategy played beautifully in to the hands of Will Power, who started near the middle of the pack due to a penalty in qualifying and spun out on the opening lap to drop to dead last. He clawed his way through the field to finish 3rd in an improbable effort despite shortcomings leading up to the race.
Down the stretch, McLaughlin was able to keep Palou behind him for the last stint to secure his second career win in the NTT IndyCar Series and the third in a row for Team Penske.
“The car has been awesome,” McLaughlin said. “We’ve had promise of top 5s in bits and pieces but we just haven’t put it together, and to finally put together after two good races, had Road America P7 and today winning the race, it’s a really proud moment for us all.”
Looking ahead, the series has another two-week layoff as the teams prepare for a return to Toronto for the first time in three years. The Honda Indy Toronto is July 17th. Marcus Ericsson, who finished 6th at Mid-Ohio, holds a 20-point lead over Will Power atop the season point standings.