Scott McLaughlin capitalized from a late-race misfortune that knocked Pato O’Ward out of contention to dominate and fend off Alex Palou to win the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday, July 3.
The 29-year-old McLaughlin from Hamilton, New Zealand, led a race-high 45 of 80 laps in his No. 3 Odyssey Battery Dallara-Chevrolet and managed to pull away from the field during an 18-lap dash to the finish, including a late charge from Palou, to notch his second career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series.
With on-track qualifying occurring on Saturday, Pato O’Ward became the ninth different pole winner through the first nine scheduled events after establishing a pole-winning lap at 121.861 mph in 1:06.7054. Joining him on the front row was Scott McLaughlin, who clocked in his best lap at 121.619 mph in 1:06.8382.
Following a delayed, cautious start, the green flag waved on Lap 3 of 80. At the start, O’Ward took off with the lead as teammate Felix Rosenqvist mad an early bid on McLaughlin for the runner-up spot, with the latter retaining the spot. As the field jostled for positions early, Will Power spun his No. 12 Verizon 5G Dallara-Chevrolet in Turn 9, but the event remained under green.
Through the first five scheduled laps, O’Ward was leading by nearly nine-tenths of a second over McLaughlin followed by Rosenqvist, Colton Herta and Scott Dixon while Simon Pagenaud, Alex Palou, rookie Kyle Kirkwood, rookie David Malukas and Alenxader Rossi.
Four laps later, the first caution of the event flew when Rosenqvist, who was in third place and was coming off a new multi-year deal with McLaren Racing, pulled his No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Dallara-Chevrolet off the course in Turn 4 due to a mechanical issue and with smoke billowing out of his car.
When the event restarted under green on Lap 13, O’Ward retained the lead ahead of McLaughlin while Dixon and Herta battled for third place ahead of Pagenaud. With Dixon moving into third place, Herta just managed to fend off Pagenaud for fourth place as Palou started to close in for his bid for a top-five spot.
Twenty laps into the event, O’Ward continued to lead by more than a second over McLaughlin followed by Dixon, Herta and Pagenaud while Palou, Malukas, Kirkwood, Rossi and rookie Callum Ilott were in the top 10. By then, Josef Newgarden was in 11th ahead of Rinus VeeKay, Helio Castroneves, Marcus Ericsson and Takuma Sato while Conor Daly, Romain Grosjean, Devlin DeFrancesco, Will Power and Christian Lundgaard occupied the top 20. Graham Rahal, who was making his 250th IndyCar career start, was mired in 23rd while Jimmie Johnson was back in 25th ahead of Jack Harvey.
Four laps later, the first round of green flag pit stops commenced as Newgarden pitted his No. 2 PPG Dallara-Chevrolet along with VeeKay, Grosjean and Lundgaard. Palou would soon pit along with Castroneves and Malukas, Rossi, Ilott, Simona De Silverstro, Kirkwood, Conor Daly, Dalton Kellett, Pagenaud, Takuma Sato, DeFrancesco and rookie Tatiana Calderon.
Then on Lap 30, O’Ward, who was radioing power issues, surrendered the lead to pit followed by Dixon as McLaughlin took over the lead. Shortly after, the caution flew when Kirkwood got loose entering Turn 9, went off the course and wrecked his No. 14 AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara-Chevrolet against the tire barriers.
With the race restarting under green on Lap 36, McLaughlin fended off Palou to retain the lead through the first two corners and entering Turn 3. Then as Palou challenged McLaughlin for the lead, the caution returned when Dalton Kellett got hit by Jack Harvey in Turn 2, spun and stalled his car.
As the race restarted under green at the halfway mark on Lap 40, McLaughlin retained the lead for a second time ahead of Palou as Herta, O’Ward and Dixon occupied the top five.
With 30 laps remaining, McLaughlin was leading by a second over Palou while Herta, VeeKay and Dixon were in the top five. Newgarden, who started 14th, was up in sixth place followed by Ericsson, Power, Rossi and Grosjean while O’Ward was back to 12th after being overtaken by Pagenaud.
Three laps later, names like Newgarden, Malukas, Ilott, Castronevs, Lundgaard, Graham Rahal, Conor Day, DeFrancesco, Sato, Simona de Silvestro and O’Ward pitted under green. Then, disaster struck for O’Ward, who stalled his No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Dallara-Chevrolet while trying to exit his pit stall and retired due to a mechanical issue. At the time of O’Ward’s issue, the leader McLaughlin along with Palou, VeeKay, Dixon, Ericsson, Power, Rossi, Grosjean and Pagenaud pitted. Not long after, the caution flew when Tatiana Calderon pulled her car off the course in between Turns 4 and 5 due to a mechanical issue.
When the race restarted under green with 23 laps remaining, Herta, who did not pit during the previous pit cycle, took off with the lead followed by McLaughlin while Palou, Power, VeeKay and Dixon occupied the top six. By then, Ilott limped his car back to pit road after he fell off the pace prior to the start and eventually retired due to a mechanical issue to his No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Dallara-Chevrolet.
During the following lap, however, the caution flew when teammates Grosjean and Rossi, both of whom made contact with one another earlier, made contact for a second time and went off the course in Turn 2, with Grosjean’s No. 28 Andretti Autosport Dallara-Honda ending up in the tire barriers while Rossi continued. During the caution period, Herta surrendered the lead to McLaughlin to pit.
Down to the final 18 laps of the event, the race proceeded under green. At the start, McLaughlin took off with the lead while teammate Power challenged Palou for the runner-up spot as the field fanned out and scrambled for late positions.
During the following lap, Herta, who was mired towards the rear of the field, received the slightest of contact from teammate Grosjean, who earlier voiced his frustration in being hit by teammate Rossi prior to the previous restart, as Herta went off the course, spun his No. 26 Andretti Autosport Dallara-Honda and continued.
With 10 laps remaining, McLaughlin continued to lead by more than a second over Palou followed by Power, VeeKay and Dixon while Ericsson, Newgarden, Castroneves, Malukas and Jack Harvey were in the top 10. By then, the drama within the Andretti Autosport camp continued as Rossi made contact with teammate Devlin DeFrancesco in Turn 6. In addition, Rossi and Grosjean were assessed pass-through penalties through pit road following their run-in on the track.
Down to the final five laps of the event, McLaughlin remained as the leader by six-tenths of a seconds over Palou while Power, VeeKay and Dixon stabilized themselves in the top five. Ericsson, Newgarden, Castroneves, Malukas and Pagenaud were scored in the top 10 while Lundgaard, Rahal, Daly, Sato and Jimmie Johnson were in the top 15.
When the white flag waved and the final lap started, McLaughlin stabilized his advantage to nine-tenths of a second over Palou, who had the Australian within his sights but was not close enough to ignite a bid for the lead. Having a clear circuit in front of him for a final time and through the 13-turn circuit, McLaughlin was able to cycle his way back to the finish line and claim his second career checkered flag in the IndyCar circuit by more than half a second over Palou’s No. 10 NTT Data Dallara-Honda.
With the victory, McLaughlin became the second IndyCar competitor to achieve multiple victories this season as he recorded the sixth IndyCar victory of the season for Team Penske along with the 12th for the organization at Mid-Ohio. The Mid-Ohio victory also marked his first podium result in IndyCar since he claimed his maiden IndyCar victory at the Streets of St. Petersburg in Florida followed by a runner-up result at Texas Motor Speedway in March.
“Amazing,” McLaughlin said on NBC. “I really wanted to get a win here with mom and dad. Our first time with Odyssey Battery on the car. It was awesome, as well, to have them onboard, but to have mom and dad here is super special. America’s weekend! Last night, I was dressed up as a bald eagle, so maybe, I need to do that every July 4th weekend. [The race] was tough. You’re thinking about your fuel, but thankfully, Chevy gave us the great fuel mileage and drive ability off the restarts. That allowed to get a little bit of a gap from Palou and Honda there, so I’m really proud of the guys [with] the car they gave me. It was a little hard to drive towards the end. I would’ve loved to make it a little bit easier for myself, but yeah, super proud of everyone. Great pit stops from this car No. 3 team…We’re going to the moon!”
Palou claimed his third runner-up result of the season after being half a second shy of claiming his first IndyCar victory of the season while Power rallied from his opening lap spin to finish in third place and round out the podium.
VeeKay and Dixon finished in the top five while Ericsson, Newgarden, Castroneves, Malukas and Pagenaud completed the top 10 on the track. Notably, Herta finished 15th ahead of Jimmie Johnson, Rossi ended up 19th and Grosjean settled in 21st, a lap down.
There were three lead changes for three different leaders. The race featured six cautions for 17 laps.
With his sixth-place result, Marcus Ericsson continues to lead the championship standings by 20 points over Will Power, 34 over Josef Newgarden, 35 over Alex Palou, 65 over Pato O’Ward, 67 over Scott Dixon and 69 over Scott McLaughlin.
1. Scott McLaughlin, 45 laps led
2. Alex Palou
3. Will Power
4. Rinus VeeKay
5. Scott Dixon
6. Marcus Ericsson
7. Josef Newgarden
8. Helio Castroneves
9. David Malukas
10. Simon Pagenaud
11. Christian Lundgaard
12. Graham Rahal
13. Conor Daly
14. Takuma Sato
15. Colton Herta, seven laps led
16. Jimmie Johnson
17. Devlin DeFrancesco
18. Simona De Silvestro
19. Alexander Rossi
20. Jack Harvey
21. Romain Grosjean, one lap down
22. Dalton Kellett, two laps down
23. Callum Ilott – OUT, Mechanical
24. Pato O’Ward – OUT, Mechanical, 28 laps led
25. Tatiana Calderon – OUT, Mechanical
26. Kyle Kirkwood – OUT, Contact
27. Felix Rosenqvist – OUT, Mechanical
Next on the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series schedule is the series’ return to the Exhibition Place in Toronto, Canada, for the Honda Indy Toronto following a two-year absence. The event is scheduled to occur on July 17 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC Peacock.