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Pato O'Ward Holds Off 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. Petersburg 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.

With this win, 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 up the drivers 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 knew that his disadvantage on the red tires ultimately cost him the battle with O'Ward.

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

On the closing laps, the leaders caught up to the tail end of the lead lap, where Palou's teammate Kyrrin Simpson was battling with Agustin Canapino. Since this was a battle on the lead lap and for position, neither driver was really to let the leaders by easily.

Twice in the final laps, Palou went wide while attempting to shorten the distance between him and O'Ward and set up a pass. Clearly, the points leader wasn't ready to give up his chance of victory.

On the final turn, O'Ward almost lost his back end as he slightly fishtailed before correcting course and driving to the checkered flag.

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."

Scott McLaughlin finished in a distant third but felt the race was a great chance to experiment with the Hybrid technology as he told IndyCar on NBC that he was able to run his own race and learn.

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