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Pato O'Ward Holds of Alex Palou For First IndyCar Win in Hybrid Era

a race car on a track
O'Ward Wins the First Race of IndyCar's Hybrid EraIndyCar / Paul Hurley
  • Pato O'Ward is credited with one win this year after Josef Newgarden's win at St. Peterburg was stripped from Team Penske.

  • He finished second in the 2024 Indianapolis 500 after a last-lap pass by Josef Newgarden.

  • A Perfect pit stop paved the way for his first on-track victory in 2024


Pato O'Ward's superior final pit stop set him up for the win over Alex Palou at Mid-Ohio on Wednesday. This was the McLaren driver's first win since Iowa in 2022. On lap 55, O'Ward made his final pit, one lap ahead of the race leader Palou.

O'Ward becomes the first winner in IndyCar's Hybrid era.

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A Perfect out lap for O'Ward, while Palou dealt with traffic on his in-lap, set the drivers up for a drag race as Palou rejoined the field on lap 56. Palou was slow to exit his pit stall when he failed to engage first gear.

"Then we had a slow start, couldn't really engage first gear." Palou told IndyCar on NBC, "Maybe I was trying to get it too fast; anyway, good race."

Once back on the race track O'Ward flew past the current championship leader on warmer tires and extended the lead to just under a second.

From here on out, the race would be about O'Ward staying cool under pressure and how much Palou was willing to risk for his third victory of the season

"We were really strong on the reds; Palou was really strong on the blacks," O'Ward explained. "All I needed to do was stay at bay in the first stint and come into the pits and try to close the gap."

Palou knows that his disadvantage on the red tires ultimately cost him the battle with O'Ward.

"We couldn't make the alternate tires last. Pato started catching us, and we couldn't really do anything; I just destroyed my front tires."

After a heartbreaking loss in the Indy 500 earlier this year, a hard-fought win is exactly what O'Ward and the Mclaren No. 5 team need to push in the later half of the season when the schedule is dominated with ovals. Newgarden and O'Ward are the weekend favorites week in and week out on ovals.

"I know we 'won' St. Petes, but this is a proper win," O'Ward used air-quotes to explain the caveat. "We earned this one this weekend."

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