IndyCar – Scott McLaughlin again prevents Alex Palou from winning at Mid-Ohio

IndyCar – Scott McLaughlin again prevents Alex Palou from winning at Mid-Ohio

While it didn’t quite match the tons of drama experienced across the Atlantic, the 200 miles from Mid-Ohio provided an interesting and competitive event that could well have finished off the day with another Spanish victory at the hands of Alex Palou. It could not be for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who at least stepped on a podium in second place after several races without doing so. His first victory of the year, yes, he will still have to wait, since Scott McLaughlin stood in his way again to clinch his second win of 2022.

The New Zealand driver, who retained his second starting position after an aborted first start, had in his favor the mechanical problems that left the two McLaren SP drivers out of actionespecially to a Duck O’Ward who was leading the race when his car started to lose power. Following his first stop on lap 30, the Mexican had dropped to fourth position, and proceeded to drop numerous places during his next stint without being able to use push-to-pass. Finally, his machine said enough as soon as he completed his second stopremaining lying on pit road.

With all this, the main opponent of a solid McLaughlin was Palou, who gained a position when Felix Rosenqvist broke the engine on lap ten, and who was having his pluses and minuses to retain sixth place. At the time of the first stops, Palou was one of two drivers to ride a second set of softs and brought his stoppage forward to lap 26, which allowed him to execute a great ‘undercut’ that was close to putting him in the lead. It was only prevented by Kyle Kirkwood running off the track, which caused the second stoppage just as McLaughlin and three other drivers made their stop. The race would have three more ‘cautions’ in the future, but the Spanish driver was unable to take advantage of any of them to take the lead.

Colton Hertha threatened to crash the party, but lost all choice by being the only driver who did not anticipate the yellow on lap 54 (caused by a mechanical problem of Tatiana Calderón) with a stop in the pits, having to stop when they had already regrouped. Although Palou had a couple of good opportunities to try, the defending champion did not see clearly the maneuver on McLaughlin. Both finished hard, and the constant pressure over the final 19 laps did not result in the expected error. In this way, it was repeated same situation of the first race of the year in St. Petersburgearning the Penske driver his second IndyCar victory and also burying another recent run of poor results.

It was all so similar to St. Pete that even the podium was identical, finishing third a Will Power who was the epitome of combativeness. After his sanction in yesterday’s qualy that made him start in 21st place, the Australian was relegated to the bottom of the grid after a spin in the first few laps. His first stop, which coincided with the yellow on lap 31, made him climb to 12th place, which went on to be eighth between restarts and his next stint. Power left his second stop in fifth position, won fourth place on the track after the fourth yellow, and Andretti’s mistake with Herta put him on a good podium that reinforces his candidacy for the title.

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It was not the only thing that happened to Andretti Autosport, which experienced all kinds of Dantesque situations with even three mutual collisions among its four pilots. Alexander Rossi and Romain Grosjean opened the season with several touches that culminated in a mutual run-off, which caused the fifth and final yellow card on lap 59. Afterwards, Grosjean also had another run-off with Herta, and Rossi put the icing on the cake by taking the Devlin DeFrancesco when he overtook him near the end. A series of totally grotesque events that ended with multiple insults, verbal diatribes and an emergency meeting at the end of the race in the team trailer.

Power’s podium came by overtaking a Rinus VeeKay who had taken advantage of an undercut and a good start to go from twelfth to fifth place before the misfortunes of O’Ward and Herta. He was by far the best driver outside of the Penske-Ganassi duopoly and finished ahead of a solid Scott Dixon, who regretted that Race Direction chose to wait for everyone to make their second stop before getting the yellow card for Calderón. For its part, both Marcus Ericsson and Josef Newgarden came from behind seven positions ‘of the hand’ to finish sixth and seventh. The Swede lost position at the start, but regained it at his last stop, and holds a solid 20-point lead with Power at the top of the standings, with Newgarden on 34 and Palou a further 35.

Simon Pagenaud came to be fifth before the first stops, but lost control very soon and could only be tenth, being surpassed by his teammate Hélio Castroneves (second best result of the year) and by a Malukas adding his first top 10 of the year in ninth place. Like Andretti, the Foyt team had an absolutely appalling race, with each of their three cars showing a yellow flag; to those of Kirkwood and Calderón was added that of Dalton Kellett, who was spun by Jack Harvey on lap 36. In two weeks, the competition moves back to the streets with the return to urban Toronto after three years of absence.


Photos: IndyCar Media