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Palou masters IndyCar’s hybrid system en route to Mid-Ohio pole

The first pole in IndyCar’s hybrid era belongs to Chip Ganassi Racing and Alex Palou, who secured his second consecutive pole with the No. 10 Honda and the Spaniard’s third of the season.

Palou’s final lap produced a 1m05.3511s tour, and behind him, Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward was charging, with the No. 5 Chevy showing as being slightly faster than his rival, but a slight loss of speed in the final corners left the Mexican an impossibly small 0.0024s behind in second.

“We knew we had a really fast car,” said Palou, who added one more point to his championship lead. “It’s gonna look good on the front row, and it was nice two weeks ago so we wanted to repeat.”

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O’Ward was understandably disappointed to have missed out on pole by a tiny margin.

“There’s always more, right?” he said. “That was a really clean lap. This is the strongest car that we’ve had all year in a race weekend, so I’m really excited for tomorrow, and we’re obviously the ones chasing. It’s always a good thing to have a carrot in front of you, and we’ll see if we can get it tomorrow.”

The greatest story from qualifying belonged to Meyer Shank Racing and newcomer David Malukas, who fired the No. 66 Honda into third (+0.2998s) ahead of Andretti Global’s Colton Herta in the No. 26 Honda (+0.4142s), Ganassi’s Marcus Armstrong in the No. 11 Honda (0.5891s) who will drop to 11th after serving a grid penalty for an unapproved engine change, and Andretti’s Marcus Ericsson in the No. 28 Honda (+0.6081s) as the sponsor of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio claimed five of the top six positions.

Behind Ericsson, the first of the Team Penske drivers (Scott McLaughlin) slotted in seventh on a strange afternoon for the perennial contenders.

“The driver sucks,” McLaughlin jokingly said. “Just made a mistake on the first lap. We should have been easily in the Fast Six.”

Where McLaughlin did well, his teammates were surprising omissions from the Fast 12 as Will Power, who holds second in the championship, qualified 16th and teammate Josef Newgarden earned 18th on the grid, one spot behind Arrow McLaren rookie Nolan Siegel.

Another surprise in qualifying came with 2023 Indy NXT champion Christian Rasmussen, who took the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevy to ninth, right behind Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi and in front of Rossi’s impending replacement, Christian Lundgaard.

Dale Coyne Racing’s Toby Sowery, making his IndyCar debut, got a single lap at speed after an energy recovery system issue kept his No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing Honda on pit lane for most of the opening session, but he was able to secure 25th on the grid.

The opening stage of knockout qualifying pitted 13 of the 27 drivers against each other to earn six transfer spots — Palou, Malukas, Rossi, McLaughlin, Rasmussen and Ericsson advanced.

Behind them, the remaining drivers were locked into their starting positions, beginning with Felix Rosenqvist (P13), who will lose six spots on the final grid after an unapproved engine change, Kyle Kirkwood (P15), Siegel (P17), Graham Rahal (P19), Santino Ferrucci (P21), Pietro Fittipaldi (P23, also with a six-spot grid penalty), and Sowery (P25), who lost precious time on pit lane while his team worked through a energy recovery system problem.

The second phase of the knockout process saw its 14 drivers separated into a top six headed by Armstrong (also with an upcoming six-position grid penalty), Herta, Lundgaard, O’Ward, Linus Lundqvist, and Romain Grosjean.

On the outside looking in were Dixon (P14), Power (P16), Newgarden (P18), Rinus VeeKay (P20), Agustin Canapino (P22), Kyffin Simpson (P24), Sting Ray Robb (P26) and Jack Harvey (P27).

RESULTS

Story originally appeared on Racer