Around the Corner: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

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Marcus Armstrong Colton Herta

Winning an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race is difficult by any measure, so imagine trying to win two in succession – at the same track no less.

That’s Alex Palou’s challenge in today’s The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by the 2025 Civic Hybrid. Having won last year’s series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the season points leader will try to make two in a row, this time from the first starting position. Last year, Palou qualified fourth.

SEE: Starting Lineup/Tire Choice

Today’s race is set for 1:30 p.m. ET (NBC, Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network).

Earlier this year, Palou became the seventh driver in this field to win consecutive races at the same track. He won the Sonsio Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course to back up the trophy he earned there in May 2023.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden also turned the double this year, repeating as the winner of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. Newgarden has won races in back-to-back years several times in his career: on the IMS oval, on St. Petersburg’s street circuit, at Barber Motorsports Park, at Texas Motor Speedway, at Iowa Speedway (twice), and he scored three wins in a row at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon has won three consecutive races at Nashville Superspeedway and Watkins Glen International, and he has won two in succession at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Kansas Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway and Sonoma Raceway.

Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi (Long Beach), Team Penske’s Will Power (Barber Motorsports Park, Sonoma Raceway, the Sao Paulo street circuit and the IMS road course), Graham Rahal (Detroit) and Colton Herta (WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca) also have gone back-to-back at tracks. Power won three in a row in Sao Paulo.

But as we know, reaching victory lane today won’t be easy for Palou – or any driver, for that matter. While the Mid-Ohio winner has come from one of the top two starting positions in seven of the past nine years, none of those drivers repeated in consecutive years. Prior to Palou, the winners were Team Penske’s Scott McLaughlin, Newgarden, Herta, Power, Dixon and Rossi.

Overall, Dixon leads all drivers in history with six wins on this 13-turn, 2.258-mile natural terrain road course. Newgarden, with two wins, is the only other active driver to win here more than once.

The top qualifier has won five times since 2016, with the No. 2 starter winning another. Dixon rolled off eighth in 2019.

It’s not like Palou has a massive advantage on today’s field. He edged Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward by .0024 of a second, the closest the first and second qualifiers have ever been in a Firestone Fast Six round (those sessions have been held since 2005). Meyer Shank Racing’s David Malukas will start third; that ties his best qualifying effort of his career.

While the leading candidates to win today’s race are the same as in past races here, there are a couple of new variables. One is the track surface, which was completely repaved last fall.

The other biggie is INDYCAR’s new hybrid technology, which will be in use in a race for the first time. Drivers trying to learn the nuances of the system have provided differing opinions of how it will impact the racing, but it’s safe to say acceleration off the Turn 2 hairpin will be more significant. The system is expected to add an additional 60 horsepower. Combined with the Push to Pass system, a driver could realize 120 additional horsepower.

There’s certainly a lot to watch today. Palou, who leads the standings by 23 points, is aiming for his third race win of the season and second in a row at this track. But how he and others maximize the new energy recovery system could determine who arrives in victory lane.

Will it be a repeat or a newcomer? We have 80 laps to find out.