IndyCar: McLaughlin holds off Palou as Andretti team self-destructs

With his New Zealand parents looking on, Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin won his 2nd IndyCar race by holding off Ganassi Honda driver Alex Palou by 0.55s at the Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Will Power came from last to third in the drive of the day 3.8s back.

Rinus Veekay and Scott Dixon rounded out the top-5.

Polesitter Pato O’Ward and his Arrow McLaren teammate Felix Rosenqvist retired with engine issues.

“It’s amazing,” said an elated McLaughlin from Victory Lane.  “I really wanted to get a win here even more with my mom and dad here. And our first time we have had Odyssey Battery on the car and you know it was it was awesome as well to have them on board but that mom and dad is very special on America’s weekend.

“Last night I was dressed up as a bald eagle, so maybe I need to do that every year, July 4th weekend.”

Perhaps the highlight of the race was watching Alexander Rossi crashing into almost all of his Andretti Autosport teammates, and Grosjean crashing into teammate Colton Herta. It was a comedy show of wankers, and it left Michael Andretti with smoke coming out of his ears.

Romain Grosjean was fuming over the radio: “What the fu*k. What’s wrong with him [Rossi]! What’s wrong with him?. Michael you need to have a word with him. Fu*king Ridiculous!”

Will heads roll in the team meeting called by Michael Andretti below? He should fire Rossi on the spot.  He is a negative energy in the team now, should be sacked, and Kyle Kirkwood called up from the Foyt team.

How the race unfolded

The 80-lap race was treacherous compared to past NTT INDYCAR SERIES races at the track. There were six cautions for 17 laps, more than the previous five Mid-Ohio NTT INDYCAR SERIES races combined. The 2021 race and Race 2 of the 2020 doubleheader each featured two stoppages, while Race 1 of the 2020 doubleheader and the events in 2019 and 2018 did not have any.

The first caution came on Lap 1 for a waved-off start, and the second on Lap 10 was for a mechanical failure on the No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet of Felix Rosenqvist, who was running third when his car started hitting the rev limiter in Turn 2 and then billowed smoke.

It was an ominous sign for NTT P1 Award winner Pato O’Ward, who led the first 28 laps in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet. However, on Lap 30, O’Ward began reporting power issues on his car.

By Lap 54, O’Ward’s car had completely lost power as it stalled at the end of pit lane. His Arrow McLaren SP team pushed the car back to the pit box, where O’Ward exited and ended the streak of Mid-Ohio polesitters winning the race at three.

This allowed McLaughlin, who started second next to O’Ward, to inherit the lead during a round of green flag pit stop cycles on Lap 31. During the stops, rookie Kyle Kirkwood went off track in Turn 9 in the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet of AJ Foyt Racing.

The yellow flag flew just as green-flag pit stops cycled through, which put McLaughlin at the point. The second-year series driver was in full control of the race on the 13-turn, 2.258-mile permanent road course thereafter.

McLaughlin led 45 of the final 52 laps. Colton Herta led seven laps after not pitting under caution on Lap 53 while the rest of the leaders pitted. McLaughlin got the lead back on Lap 60 and never looked back, keeping Palou in his mirror through a series of cautions and restarts.

Palou, a Spaniard, was never more than second behind New Zealand native McLaughlin, and the final caution on Lap 59 for contact between Romain Grosjean’s No. 28 ForeverLawn/DHL Honda and Alexander Rossi’s No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda gave him one last chance to try to capture his first win of 2022.

“Man, it was so close,” said Palou, who started seventh. “Our No. 10 NTT DATA car was fast. We just missed it by ‘this much’ again today, but I’m super proud. I don’t think I was good enough to pass (McLaughlin). I wish I would have gone for it, but I did not see that it was clear to do it.”

McLaughlin’s third podium of the season and Palou’s fourth allowed them to close in on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship. Marcus Ericsson held his points lead with a sixth-place finish in the No. 8 Ridgeline Lubricants Honda, but he is now just 20 points ahead of Power. Josef Newgarden is third, 34 points back.

Palou rose to fourth in the standings, just 35 points back. McLaughlin jumped two positions to seventh in the standings, 69 points back of Ericsson, the winner of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

While McLaughlin’s surge in the championship standings will be beneficial down the road, the three-time Australian V8 Supercars champion was basking in the glory of scoring his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES win with his parents, Wayne and Diane, in attendance. The couple came to the United States in May for the “500” and reunited with their son for the first time in two and a half years. This was the first race they’ve seen him win in this series.

“Oh, I really wanted to get a win here with mom and dad for the first time,” McLaughlin said. “To have mom and dad here on America’s weekend is awesome.”

Race Results

Pos No Name Laps Behind Gap Led ST Engine Points Team
1 3 Scott McLaughlin 80 0.000s 0.000s 45 2 Chevy 252 Team Penske
2 10 Alex Palou 80 0.5512 0.5512 0 7 Honda 286 Chip Ganassi Racing
3 12 Will Power 80 3.8415 3.2903 0 21 Chevy 301 Team Penske
4 21 Rinus VeeKay 80 11.3742 7.5327 0 11 Chevy 193 Ed Carpenter Racing
5 9 Scott Dixon 80 12.3194 0.9452 0 5 Honda 254 Chip Ganassi Racing
6 8 Marcus Ericsson 80 13.0700 0.7506 0 13 Honda 321 Chip Ganassi Racing
7 2 Josef Newgarden 80 13.7717 0.7017 0 14 Chevy 287 Team Penske
8 06 Helio Castroneves 80 16.8590 3.0873 0 15 Honda 160 Meyer Shank Racing
9 18 David Malukas 80 19.0958 2.2368 0 8 Honda 145 Dale Coyne Racing with HMD
10 60 Simon Pagenaud 80 26.1914 7.0956 0 6 Honda 217 Meyer Shank Racing
11 30 Christian Lundgaard 80 27.0849 0.8935 0 16 Honda 159 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
12 15 Graham Rahal 80 28.9183 1.8334 0 18 Honda 177 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
13 20 Conor Daly 80 29.4121 0.4938 0 22 Chevy 188 Ed Carpenter Racing
14 51 Takuma Sato 80 29.7488 0.3367 0 19 Honda 149 Dale Coyne Racing w/RWR
15 26 Colton Herta 80 35.6803 5.9315 7 3 Honda 212 Andretti Autosport w/Curb-Agajanian
16 48 Jimmie Johnson 80 36.6512 0.9709 0 27 Honda 99 Chip Ganassi Racing
17 29 Devlin DeFrancesco 79 38.1187 3.0064 0 20 Honda 99 Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport
18 16 Simona De Silvestro 79 44.7108 6.5921 0 25 Chevy 21 Paretta Autosport
19 27 Alexander Rossi 79 46.0053 1.2945 0 12 Honda 229 Andretti Autosport
20 45 Jack Harvey 79 62.8366 16.8313 0 24 Honda 115 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
21 28 Romain Grosjean 78 1 LAPS 55.5170 0 17 Honda 183 Andretti Autosport
22 4 Dalton Kellett 77 2 LAPS 1 LAPS 0 23 Chevy 70 AJ Foyt Enterprises
23 77 Callum Ilott 57 Mechanical 13.8736 0 10 Chevy 97 Juncos Hollinger Racing
24 5 Pato O’Ward 52 Mechanical 5.6492 28 1 Chevy 256 Arrow McLaren SP
25 11 Tatiana Calderon 51 Mechanical 0.6447 0 26 Chevy 58 AJ Foyt Enterprises
26 14 Kyle Kirkwood 28 Contact 1.0794 0 9 Chevy 98 AJ Foyt Enterprises
27 7 Felix Rosenqvist 8 Mechanical 1.1857 0 4 Chevy 208 Arrow McLaren SP

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 101.557 mph
Time of Race: 1:46:43.3290
Margin of victory: 0.5512 of a second
Cautions: 6 for 17 laps
Lead changes: 3 among 4 drivers

Lap Leaders:
O’Ward, Pato 1-28
McLaughlin, Scott 29-52
Herta, Colton 53-59
McLaughlin, Scott 60-80

Ericsson 321, Power 301, Newgarden 287, Palou 286, O’Ward 256, Dixon 254, McLaughlin 252, Rossi 229, Pagenaud 217, Herta 212, Rosenqvist 208, VeeKay 193, Daly 188, Grosjean 183, Rahal 177, Castroneves 160, Lundgaard 159, Sato 149, Malukas 145, Harvey 115, Johnson 99, DeFrancesco 99, Kirkwood 98, Ilott 97, Tony Kanaan 78, Santino Ferrucci 71, Kellett 70, Calderon 58, JR Hildebrand 53, Ed Carpenter 49, Juan Pablo Montoya 44, De Silvestro 21, Marco Andretti 17, Sage Karam 14, Stefan Wilson 10