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First Hybrid Race Ever, Historic Win for O'Ward


Photo Courtesy Penske Entertainment / INDYCAR

AJ Appeal - Special Contributor, RacingRefresh.com


Lexington, OH – In a landmark event for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Pato O’Ward emerged victorious in The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by the 2025 Civic Hybrid, the first-ever race featuring INDYCAR's new hybrid power unit. O’Ward's win was hard-fought, as he resisted relentless pressure from championship leader Alex Palou over the closing laps to clinch victory by just 0.4993 seconds, marking the closest finish this season on a road or street circuit.


The race, held at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, highlighted the debut of the hybrid power unit, which combines traditional Push to Pass with an additional boost from the hybrid system, providing drivers with an extra 120+ horsepower on demand. This new technology aims to enhance both the performance and excitement of the races.


Race Dynamics: Tire Strategy and Pit Stops


The race quickly became a tale of tyre strategies. Both front-row starters, Alex Palou and Pato O’Ward, began the 80-lap contest on Firestone primary (black) tyres. Palou established early dominance on the more durable rubber, building a lead of approximately eight seconds before O’Ward made his first pit stop at the end of Lap 27, switching to the softer, grippier Firestone alternate (red) tires. Palou followed suit a lap later, maintaining his lead after the first pit cycle.


However, O’Ward's car came to life on the red-sidewall Firestone alternate tires. By Lap 43, Palou's lead had shrunk to 4.2 seconds, and by Lap 54, O’Ward was just half a second behind, setting the stage for a strategic battle.


Crucial Pit Stops and Lead Change


The decisive moment came around Lap 56 when both leaders pitted for the second and final time. O’Ward's pit stop was flawless, while Palou encountered trouble exiting his pit box, costing him valuable seconds. "We had a slow stop," Palou said. "I couldn’t really engage first gear. Maybe I was trying to get it too fast, so probably my fault. Anyways, good race. Had fun. Good, solid day.”


This mishap allowed O’Ward to take the lead around the Keyhole after emerging from the pits. Despite Palou's relentless pursuit, O’Ward managed to hold his position, even as he navigated through traffic in the closing laps.


Victory and Post-Race Reactions


O’Ward slid his No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet through the final corner to secure his sixth career NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory and his second of the season. “That was a hard-fought race,” O’Ward said. “We were really, really strong on the reds. Palou was really, really strong on the blacks. So, all I needed to do was kind of stay up in the first stint and come into the pits and put those reds on and kind of try to close the gap.”


Scott McLaughlin finished third in the No. 3 Sonsio Team Penske Chevrolet, marking his second podium in the last three races. Colton Herta placed fourth in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda, and Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top five in the No. 28 Delaware Life Honda.


Championship Standings and Looking Ahead


Despite finishing second, Alex Palou maintained his lead in the championship standings, now with 329 points. Will Power, who finished 11th, is second with 281 points, followed by O’Ward in third with 259 points. Palou recorded his eighth top-five finish in nine races this season, expanding his points gap and solidifying his status as the championship frontrunner.


The NTT INDYCAR SERIES now shifts focus to oval racing, with a doubleheader at Iowa Speedway. The Hy-Vee Homefront 250 presented by Instacart will take place at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 13, followed by the Hy-Vee One Step 250 presented by Gatorade at noon ET on Sunday, July 14. Both races will be broadcast live on NBC, Peacock, and the INDYCAR Radio Network.


Mid-Ohio: A Historic Venue


The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has been a staple in the INDYCAR calendar since its first race on July 13, 1980. This year's event continued the tradition of thrilling races at this renowned 2.258-mile permanent road course, featuring 13 turns and a minimum track width of 32 feet, all raced in a clockwise direction.


Pato O’Ward's victory at Mid-Ohio not only marks a significant personal achievement but also highlights the ongoing evolution and excitement within the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, as drivers and teams continue to push the boundaries of speed, strategy, and technology.


Final Race Results:


Pato O'Ward - D/C/F - 80 laps - 1:33:22.6191

Alex Palou - D/H/F - 80 laps - 0.4993 seconds behind

Scott McLaughlin - D/C/F - 80 laps - 16.1558 seconds behind

Colton Herta - D/H/F - 80 laps - 24.8725 seconds behind

Marcus Ericsson - D/H/F - 80 laps - 31.6809 seconds behind

Alexander Rossi - D/C/F - 80 laps - 32.2443 seconds behind

Christian Lundgaard - D/H/F - 80 laps - 32.5714 seconds behind

Kyle Kirkwood - D/H/F - 80 laps - 35.2218 seconds behind

Christian Rasmussen (R) - D/C/F - 80 laps - 40.3182 seconds behind

Santino Ferrucci - D/C/F - 80 laps - 46.9084 seconds behind

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