IndyCar’s return to Mid-Ohio for the Honda Indy 200 was a caution-filled run to the checkered for Scott McLaughlin’s 2nd win of the season.
While Mid-Ohio has been known to cause some chaos in the past, no one could have predicted Sunday’s mayhem. Whether it was engine issues, angry teammates, or spins, the race was start-stop all the way home. Drivers like Will Power and Marcus Ericsson had to battle their way through the field following poor showings in qualifying. Despite the valiant efforts of those drivers along with Alex Palou, it was the Kiwi Scott McLaughlin who broke out of his mid-season slump to take win number two in his second IndyCar season. Here are 5 Takeaways from Mid-Ohio.
- Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske – 01:46.43
- Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing +0.5
- Will Power, Team Penske +3.8
- Rinus VeeKay, Ed Carpenter Racing +11.4
- Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing +12.3
Rollercoaster for the Rookies
At first, it appeared as if this was going to be the perfect race for some of 2022’s IndyCar rookies to shine. Rookie drivers David Malukas, Kyle Kirkwood, and Callum Ilott all qualified inside the top 10. Undoubtedly the most impressive showing from this year’s rookie class so far. And for the beginning part of the race, it looked like that order would stay about the same. Malukas and Kirkwood were running seventh and eighth respectively, with the Brit Ilott not too far behind in eleventh.
On lap 30, things took a quick downhill turn for the 2021 Indy Lights champ Kirkwood as he bizarrely smacked the barriers outside of turn nine. Making things worse for the rookie group, AJ Foyt Racing’s Tatiana Calderon stopped on track with a mechanical issue just 24 laps later. To cap it all off though, Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Ilott suffered a breakdown just before the final restart, ending his day prematurely. On the bright side, Malukas fended off attack after attack to finish in eighth, his first top 10 in his young IndyCar career.
McLaren Throws Away Another
For the beginning laps of the race, it seemed as if Arrow McLaren SP would have an absolute field day with the rest of the grid. Polesitter Pato O’Ward pulled away from eventual winner McLaughlin, as his teammate Felix Rosenqvist trailed closely in third. However, this momentary joy was broken by an electrical failure on Rosenqvist’s No. 7 machine just nine laps in, prompting O’Ward’s concerns over his own gearbox.
“I’m losing power! Losing power!” the young Mexican screamed to his team on the radio. That was evident in the coming laps as he was swallowed up by almost the entire field, prompting his eventual retirement from the race during a caution on lap 54.
Championship Leaders Hold Position
As crazy as Sunday at Mid-Ohio turned out to be, the three championship leaders somehow held the same positions in the points standings as they did entering the weekend. Power, whose weekend was poised for failure by starting 21st, spun on the first lap and showed some impressive racecraft to climb back into third, cutting down on his deficit to Ericsson, the championship leader. For Ericsson, it was much of the same starting back in 13th. However, after some maneuvering, the Swede made his way up to sixth to retain the championship lead he has held onto for the past few races.
For Josef Newgarden, the victor two weeks ago at Road America, it was another tough climb after a disappointing qualifying result of 14th. But just like Ericsson and Power, the 31-year-old American sliced and diced his way around anyone who dare stand in his path, earning himself some solid points with a seventh-place finish.
Andretti Tensions Boil Over
Impressively enough, this was the part of the race that caught more social media attention than anything else. As if tensions weren’t already high enough, all four Andretti Autosport drivers ended up making contact with each other at some point in the race. The first incident came on lap 59, where Alexander Rossi ran wide at turn 2, pushing his teammate Romain Grosjean into the barrier, sending the Frenchman a lap down.
However, that was not the end of it. After the caution for the aforementioned incident, Grosjean, who was a lap down, forced teammate Colton Herta off track in a similar fashion, pushing the American down the order. A few laps later, Rossi tangled with another Andretti teammate Devlin Defrancesco. Defrancesco, the lone rookie at Andretti, was forced off by his elder teammate at turn six, capping what could only be described as a horrible day for the Indianapolis-based crew.
McLaughlin Climbs Standings With Win
At the end of the day, it was Scott McLaughlin who rolled into victory lane. While he did lead 45 laps of the race, the Penske driver didn’t necessarily have it easy on Sunday afternoon. The Kiwi spent much of the race behind Pato O’Ward. He then had to fend off Alex Palou just like he did in the season opener at St. Petersburg.
Speaking on the final restart, McLaughlin stated “…I was a little bit nervous probably the last restart potentially because (drivers were on) red tires behind both me and Alex.” No matter what tires they had on, it didn’t matter for the former Australian Supercars champ, as he earned a well-deserved victory in Lexington.
Championship Standings after Mid-Ohio
After a third place finish for Power, his deficit is just 20 points.
- Marcus Ericsson, Chip Ganassi Racing – 321 points
- Will Power, Team Penske – 301 points
- Josef Newgarden, Team Penske – 287 points
- Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi Racing – 286 points
- Pato O’Ward, Arrow McLaren SP – 256 points
For a full rundown of the points standings, click here.
Next on the Schedule
- July 17th, 3:00 P.M EST – Honda Indy Toronto
- Exhibition Place – Toronto, Ontario, Canada
- Defending Champion: Simon Pagenaud