O’Ward Drives to Top as Times Drop at Mid-Ohio

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Pato O'Ward

Pato O’Ward led pre-qualifying practice for The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by the 2025 Civic Hybrid on Saturday morning, as NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers put the new hybrid system through its first serious workout of the race weekend.

O’Ward was quickest at 1 minute, 5.9862 seconds in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, the best lap of the event by any of the 27 drivers on the newly repaved, 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Championship leader Alex Palou led Friday at 1:07.0650 in the No. 10 Ridgeline Lubricants Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

SEE: Practice Results

The new INDYCAR hybrid system is being introduced to all engines at this event. Rain and incidents reduced track time in practice Friday, so drivers took advantage of sunny skies and one hour of running Saturday to learn more nuances of the hybrid.

“It’s influenced the balance of the car quite a bit,” O’Ward said of the hybrid system, which adds 105 pounds to each car. “So, we’re playing around with the mapping of how the regen (hybrid regeneration) is made. Do you want to do it manually? Do you want to do it automatically in the brake zones? Low revs? High revs?

“There’s just so much you can do, and the car balance is very sensitive to where you pick. So, it can actually help you in terms of balance, but it also can hurt you. It’s a new hurdle, a new challenge.”

Ohio native Graham Rahal was second at his home track at 1:06.0439 in the No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

Colton Herta ended up third at 1:06.1639 in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda of Andretti Global with Curb-Agajanian. But Herta also speared into the tire barrier in Turn 12, losing his nosecone, 20 minutes into the session. He was one of a handful of drivers with off-track excursions, as every competitor comes to grips with the added power and change in weight distribution with the hybrid unit.

David Malukas continued his solid recovery from preseason wrist surgery to wind up fourth at 1:06.2076 in the No. 66 AutoNation/Arctic Wolf Honda of Meyer Shank Racing. Six-time series champion Scott Dixon rounded out the top five at 1:06.2189 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.

Palou, who leads second place Will Power by 23 points in the standings, was 10th at 1:06.4925. He was one of the drivers who scrambled for grip and balance during the session, uncharacteristically going off track twice in one lap.

Up next is NTT P1 Award qualifying at 3 p.m. ET, live on Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network. Live coverage of the 80-lap race starts at 1:30 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.