What IndyCar drivers said after Sunday’s race at Mid-Ohio


A roundup of quotes and social media posts from NTT IndyCar Series drivers Sunday after the closer of the doubleheader race weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where Colton Herta won for the first time and the first time this season:

First – Colton Herta (No. 88 Capstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda): “I’m so happy. We’ve been knocking on the door almost every weekend. We’ve had the pace. But for some reason or another, one thing has gone wrong or this thing has gone wrong. We finally put everything together. We got the pole this morning, had a stellar car. Everybody on the Capstone Turbine crew gave me an incredible car. Honda-Andretti 1-2-3, so happy to be powered by Honda, too.” (About start with Ferrucci): “He was on the outside, and I got halfway in front of him, so that was my corner at that point. I tried to leave him as much room as I could, and he just wanted to stick on the outside. So, I had to push him off.” (About winning again from pole): “We just need to be finishing on the podium every weekend. It seems like we’re only on the podium when we win. If we can fill all of those other slots with seconds or thirds, I’ll be a very happy man.”

Second – Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda): “I’m just so happy for Andretti Autosport and Michael (Andretti). It’s been a terrible year for us, kind of globally. So, to do this … hat’s off to Colton (Herta) and the 88 guys to get the win. But then just to sweep the podium, I’ve heard it’s the first time (for the team) since 2005. It’s very cool for us. The championship went away from us pretty early on, so we’re just focusing on race wins at this point and just trying to build a good foundation for next year, and I think we’re doing that right now. This is a step in the right direction.”

Third – Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda): “I think all in all, it was a pretty good day considering we started eighth and finished third. It was great to have an all-Andretti podium for the whole team. I think everyone really needed this. I was a little disappointed losing second place due to contact with Scott Dixon. We’ve raced each other super clean for many years, never any contact, so to lose a second place – or a shot at the win – today that was definitely disappointing. It was a good day for DHL, our partners AutoNation and Honda – really appreciate everyone’s support, and hopefully we can celebrate after getting on the top step at the Harvest Grand Prix in Indianapolis.”

Fourth – Graham Rahal (No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda): “The Fifth Third Bank car was strong today. We were able to pass a few guys on the second stint but didn’t feel great on those reds toward the end. I was struggling a little bit, and I think that hurt us. I think we had more pace than those guys (top three), but the track position was hard. All in all, I thought our strategy was good, the pit stops were good, and the Fifth Third Bank car was good. Two fourth-place finishes here is not too bad. We would have liked to gain a little more points on the guys ahead, but we’ll take it. I think we closed the gap to some. That was as physical of a weekend as you are going to have. Congrats to Colton (Herta) on a great run. This weekend we raised $7,500 for Turns for Troops with United Rentals, so that’s another thing to be happy about.”

Fifth – Marcus Ericsson (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “That was a good race. We had a difficult day yesterday, and it was a disappointing qualifying today in the rain. The feeling was that we needed a good result today. That’s what we did. I had a really good start by overtaking three or four cars, and then there were three cars that got taken out of the race. We started off the race really well. From then on, we had good pace, I was overtaking cars, and we made some really good strategy calls like overcutting and undercutting people. The Huski Chocolate crew had really strong pit stops today. Overall, it was a real team effort, and it was nice to be P5 there in the end. Solid results.”

Sixth – Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “I think we finally broke our curse. We had a good race today, and we’ll take a sixth-place finish in the DXC Technology Chevrolet. Saturday’s result was a real shame; it definitely didn’t show the pace that we had here. I think we’ve had a good car all weekend long, and I think today we maximized what we had. We definitely still have some work to do, but we are happy with the direction we are headed with the car, and that’s a good sign for us heading back to Harvest Grand Prix at Indianapolis.”

Seventh – Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was actually a pretty solid race for the Verizon Chevrolet. We had some radio issues, so I really wasn’t sure what position we were running in all the time, so I really just followed my teammates and pitted when they did. It was pretty smooth sailing from there, but we really couldn’t make up a lot of ground. Obviously, it was a pretty disappointing result in qualifying today, and that was totally my fault. Considering that and the radio challenges during the race, we come away actually feeling all right with a seventh-place result and a pretty good weekend overall with the win on Saturday.”

Eighth – Josef Newgarden (No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet): “We were just a little too average today. We didn’t really have superior pace, and our starting position didn’t help us out. We tried to make some hay in the beginning, and the caution didn’t really work in our favor for what we were planning strategy-wise. We were just kind of stuck where we were all day, to be honest. We just need to work on getting a little more race pace. I think that’s what we were lacking. On the car itself, we needed a little better grip and a little more balance. Everything else was solid. I think Team Chevy came with a great engine today. We had what we needed from them, and obviously the support from PPG is always great here at Mid-Ohio, so we just need to work on ourselves a little next time out.”

Ninth – Pato O’Ward (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “We started 21st and made our way up a few places at the start, but then everything kind of went sideways from there. We came into the pits for the first stop and guys were getting released, which put us into a position where we couldn’t turn into the box quite as tight as we wanted to. This meant the fuel probe couldn’t quite connect, and we couldn’t get fuel into the car. This led to us having to go all the way to the back and pit for more fuel. We had to make everything up on track after that. We had such strong pace, and I truly think if we had started up front, we would have been better. I made a very stupid mistake in qualifying that really put us on the back foot, and I tried to earn back as much as I could today by giving it everything I had. At the end of the day, a top-10 finish isn’t bad from where we started.”

10th – Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “We really struggled on the restarts with tire pressures for some reason. On the turn when I spun out, I just had a bunch of guys in front of me on alternate tires, and I got too aggressive. I got on the overtake button at the exit of Turn 1 and spun the tires and spun the car. It was just a stupid, rookie mistake, and I feel bad for the PNC Bank team. Obviously, the car proved to be fast after that. We managed to fight back until the very end and pick up some spots. But overall, we should have never been in that position to begin with.”

11th – Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “That was a very tough race. Maybe because of the rainy conditions this morning, the track was different. My car felt nothing like yesterday. I had to dodge some cars at the start and did not really move forward like other guys did. It wasn’t the greatest race, but P11 is not terrible. We’ve got the Indy road course again – and again. I had my best road course finish there, so I am ready to go back.”

12th – Jack Harvey (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda): “I think today was a pretty decent day considering where we started. I have to give a big shout out to the MSR guys for working really hard to get the car back in shape after qualifying. We had a pretty good start, and I was just running my race. I think our pace on both red and blacks today was pretty strong; it’s just that it’s so hard to pass here. I wish we could have made it into the top 10, especially in front of Mike’s (Shank) home crowd, but we’re walking away with our best finish at Mid-Ohio, and we’ll push forward to get a good result back at Indy in a few weeks.”

13th – Max Chilton (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “It wasn’t quite the top 10 that I wanted, but to start back in 18th and make up five positions throughout the race and do it legitimately is something to be proud of. We outraced and outpaced some strong cars out there, and I did two of the best overtakes I’ve done all year around the outside of a high-speed corner. I’m very happy with the job we did today. We kept good pace and good fuel mileage, and I feel like we managed the race really well. I don’t think we could’ve done much more during the race; the only thing would’ve been to qualify slightly higher up. Regardless, I know that top 10 for myself and the Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet is coming this year.”

14th – Santino Ferrucci (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “It was a tough race. The SealMaster Honda had good pace, but on the opening lap I got caught off guard on the outside, and when I tried to collect it, I did some damage to the car. We came back from last to finish 14th with a couple of good pit stops and a really good last stint. Obviously, it was not our weekend. However, we had a lot of good takeaways, so I’m looking forward to the Harvest Grand Prix.”

15th – Oliver Askew (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “The No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP team made good progress during the weekend. Today was the first time I had to fuel save this year, which was an adjustment, but I felt like I gave it my all. Looking forward to getting back to the Indianapolis road course, where we qualified in the Fast Six earlier this year. I think the entire team has a lot of potential, and I’m looking forward to capitalizing on that.”

16th – Conor Daly (No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet): “Today was tough in qualifying. We just didn’t get the right lap in at the right time, and we just missed having another lap by a couple of seconds. Starting on the back foot, that’s hard. We took a gamble with the setup, which was actually good for me to try. We were in the wrong place at the wrong time for everything that happened on track. It was a shame. However, there were some positives. Yesterday, we qualified fourth, which was really good. We are still learning together as a team. Hopefully we can put what we learned here toward the Harvest Grand Prix.”

17th – Zach Veach (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “The beginning of the race was good for us. We kind of got through traffic, ended up settling in around 11th . We saw an opportunity to make a stop right before a yellow came out. Unfortunately, we put Firestone blacks on when everyone else did Firestone reds, so we kind of struggled that next stint. And for whatever reason, we had less fuel in the car than we thought, so we had to stop about two laps early, and that made the last stint a pretty big fuel saving stint. We really didn’t get an opportunity to charge forward from the halfway point on, but we did the best with what we could and what we had today. I’m really happy for the all-Andretti podium, and congrats to those guys.”

18th – Takuma Sato (No. 30 Panasonic / Mi-Jack Honda): “Everyone pit under the second yellow. Strategy-wise, staying out allowed us to try something, and we led the race for a while and made over five seconds of gap, which was needed. But unfortunately after the second sequence, we hit huge traffic where everybody was going in and out, in and out (of the pits), and we lost a couple of seconds. And then by the time everything was finished, we went back to where we were. It’s a shame, but we had to try. It was a tough weekend for us.”

19th – Charlie Kimball (No. 4 Tresiba / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “So, I definitely think we made the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet better overnight from Race 1 to Race 2. This morning, obviously, was unfortunate with the spin in the wet, so we started last, and around here at Mid-Ohio, it’s so hard to pass. The guys did a great job in pit lane. We were able to hit the fuel number we needed to get to the end of the race, so on that side of things I think we checked some boxes, learned some things, learned a little bit about the car as we head to the doubleheader at the Harvest Grand Prix back on the Indy road course. We’ll take what we learned from there in July, what we learned from here, put it together and hopefully come up with a good package off the truck.”

20th — Marco Andretti (No. 98 Surgere / Curb Honda): “I made a costly mistake today and clipped the wet grass entering Turn 1, and it cost us a good result. But really happy for Colton (Herta) and the team – congrats to everyone!”

21st – Dalton Kellett (No. 14 K-Line USA / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “The only thing you can do on a day like today is take the positives and learn from what went wrong. The team made some good changes from qualifying to the race. For the first half of the first stint, the car felt really good. We were on pace with the guys around us. Our speed was pretty competitive on the alternate Firestones. Just a little mistake on my part on the downshift, it got loose into (Turn) 1, and I couldn’t save it. When I backed it into the gravel, we damaged the underwing pretty bad, so it was a big loss in downforce. The rest of the race was more of an exercise in keeping the car on the track and trying not to get in the way of the leaders and the cars that weren’t damaged and kind of chugging along. It’s one we’ll have to file away and come back stronger for the Harvest GP.”

22nd – Felix Rosenqvist (No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “Obviously, I think we were pretty innocent with what happened with the accident at the start. I saw something was going on to the inside of me at the start, and I tried to take as wide of a line as I could in anticipation of what could happen. But I just got hit from behind. (Santino) Ferrucci went off, hit another car coming back on, and that car just pinballed into us, unfortunately. It’s a shame because the NTT DATA Honda was really in a good spot for a good result. Overall, it’s just very disappointing for us.”

23rd – Alex Palou (No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda): “That’s not how I wanted to end my day at Mid-Ohio in our No. 55 Guaranteed Rate car. We were happy to be starting from fourth and to be starting at the front of the field. I had a good start, but then I saw a car coming toward me. I moved to the right a bit to try and avoid him, but I couldn’t go very far because Felix (Rosenqvist) was next to me and we ended up both getting hit and taken out. It just wasn’t our weekend at Mid-Ohio.”

Strong rebounds for Alex Palou, Chip Ganassi amid some disappointments in the Indy 500


INDIANAPOLIS – Alex Palou had not turned a wheel wrong the entire Month of May at the Indy 500 until Rinus VeeKay turned a wheel into the Chip Ganassi Racing pole-sitter leaving pit road on Lap 94.

“There is nothing I could have done there,” Palou told NBC Sports. “It’s OK, when it is my fault or the team’s fault because everybody makes mistakes. But when there is nothing, you could have done differently there, it feels bad and feels bad for the team.”

Marcus Ericsson was a master at utilizing the “Tail of the Dragon” move that breaks the draft of the car behind him in the closing laps to win last year’s Indianapolis 500. On Sunday, however, the last of three red flags in the final 16 laps of the race had the popular driver from Sweden breathing fire after Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden beat him at his own game on the final lap to win the Indianapolis 500.

Despite the two disappointments, team owner Chip Ganassi was seen on pit road fist-bumping a member on his four-car team in this year’s Indianapolis 500 after his drivers finished second, fourth, sixth and seventh in the tightly contested race.

Those are pretty good results, but at the Indianapolis 500, there is just one winner and 32 losers.

“There is only one winner, but it was a hell of a show,” three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and Chip Ganassi Racing consultant Dario Franchitti told NBC Sports. “Alex was very fast, and he got absolutely caught out in somebody else’s wreck. There was nothing he could have done, but he and the 10 car, great recovery.

“Great recovery by all four cars because at half distance, we were not looking very good.”

After 92 laps, the first caution flew for Sting Ray Robb of Dale Coyne Racing hitting the Turn 1 wall.

During pit stops on Lap 94, Palou had left his stall when the second-place car driven by VeeKay ran into him, putting Palou’s Honda into the wall. The car sustained a damaged front wing, but the Chip Ganassi crew was able to get him back in the race on the lead lap but in 28th position.

Palou ultimately would fight his way to a fourth-place finish in a race the popular Spaniard could have won. His displeasure with VeeKay, whom he sarcastically called “a legend” on his team radio after the incident, was evident.

“The benefit of being on pole is you can drive straight and avoid crashes, and he was able to crash us on the side on pit lane, which is pretty tough to do, but he managed it,” Palou told NBC Sports. “Hopefully next year we are not beside him. Hopefully, next year we have a little better luck.”

Palou started on the pole and led 36 laps, just three fewer than race leader Pato O’Ward of Arrow McLaren Racing.

“We started really well, was managing the fuel as we wanted, our car was pretty good,” Palou said. “Our car wasn’t great, we dropped to P4 or P5, but we still had some good stuff.

“On the pit stop, the 21 (VeeKay) managed to clip us. Nothing we could have done there. It was not my team’s fault or my fault.

“We had to drop to the end. I’m happy we made it back to P4. We needed 50 more laps to make it happen, but it could have been a lot worse after that contact.

“I learned a lot, running up front at the beginning and in mid-pack and then the back. I learned a lot.

“It feels amazing when you win it and not so good when things go wrong. We were a bit lucky with so many restarts at the end to make it back to P4 so I’m happy with that.”

Palou said the front wing had to be changed and the toe-in was a bit off, but he still had a fast car.

In fact, his Honda was the best car at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway all month. His pole-winning four lap average speed of 234.217 miles per hour around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a record for this fabled race.

Palou looked good throughout the race, before he had to scratch and claw and race his way back to the top-five after he restarted 28th.

In the Indianapolis 500, however, the best car doesn’t always win.

“It’s two years in a row that we were leading the race at the beginning and had to drop to last,” Palou said. “Maybe next year, we will start in the middle of the field and go on to win the race.

“I know he didn’t do it on purpose. It’s better to let that pass someday.”

Palou said the wild racing at the end was because the downforce package used in Sunday’s race means the drivers have to be aggressive. The front two cars can battle for the victory, but cars back in fourth or fifth place can’t help determine the outcome of the race.

That is when the “Tail of the Dragon” comes into the play.

Franchitti helped celebrate Ericsson’s win in 2022 with his “Tail of the Dragon” zigzag move – something he never had to do in any of his three Indianapolis 500 victories because they all finished under caution.

In 2023, however, IndyCar Race Control wants to make every attempt to finish the race under green, without going past the scheduled distance like NASCAR’s overtime rule.

Instead of extra laps, they stop the race with a red flag, to create a potential green-flag finish condition.

“You do what you have to do to win within the rules, and it’s within the rules, so you do it,” Franchitti said. “The race is 200 laps and there is a balance.

“Marcus did a great job on that restart and so did Josef. It was just the timing of who was where and that was it.

“If you knew it was going to go red, you would have hung back on the lap before.

“Brilliant job by the whole Ganassi organization because it wasn’t looking very good at half-distance.

“Full marks to Josef Newgarden and Team Penske.”

Franchitti is highly impressed by how well Ericsson works with CGR engineer Brad Goldberg and how close this combination came to winning the Indianapolis 500 two-years-in-a-row.

It would have been the first back-to-back Indy 500 winner since Helio Castroneves in 2001 and 2002.

“Oh, he’s a badass,” Franchitti said Ericsson. “He proved it last year. He is so calm all day. What more do you need? As a driver, he’s fast and so calm.”

Ericsson is typically in good spirits and jovial.

He was stern and direct on pit road after the race.

“I did everything right, I did an awesome restart, caught Josef off-guard and pulled away,” Ericsson said on pit lane. “It’s hard to pull away a full lap and he got me back.

“I’m mostly disappointed with the way he ended. I don’t think it was fair and safe to do that restart straight out of the pits on cold tires for everyone.

“To me, it was not a good way to end that race.

“Congrats to Josef. He didn’t do anything wrong. He is a worthy champion, but it shouldn’t have ended like that.”

Palou also didn’t understand the last restart, which was a one-start showdown.

“I know that we want to finish under green,” Palou said. “Maybe the last restart I did, I didn’t understand. It didn’t benefit the CGR team.

“I’m not very supportive of the last one, but anyway.”

Dixon called the red flags “a bit sketchy.”

“The Red Flags have become a theme to the end of the race, but sometimes they can catch you out,” Dixon said. “I know Marcus is frustrated with it.

“All we ask for is consistency. I think they will do better next time.

“It’s a tough race. People will do anything they can to win it and with how these reds fall, you have to be in the right place at the right time. The problem is when they throw a Red or don’t throw a Red dictates how the race will end.

“It’s a bloody hard race to win. Congrats to Josef Newgarden and to Team Penske.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500