IndyCar Mid-Ohio starting lineup: Pato O’Ward on pole position as title contenders struggle

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LEXINGTON, Ohio — The IndyCar championship race faces a major shakeup at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where several top title contenders are buried in the starting lineup, and Pato O’Ward won the pole to match a series mark set in 1961.

O’Ward became the ninth different pole winner through nine races this season – the first time that’s happened in 61 years – and the Arrow McLaren SP driver now has a shot at the IndyCar points lead.

The modern-day record for different drivers winning the pole to start a season is 10 in 1952.

“This is huge man, it’s a track position race,” O’Ward said of the difficulty to pass on Mid-Ohio’s 13- turn, 2.258-mile course. “It’s a long race. A lot can happen but we have a great starting position.”

TIRE DESIGNATIONSClick here to see the starting lineup’s compound selection for the green flag

QUALIFYING RESULTS: Click here for the full report from Mid-Ohio l Round 1, Group 1 l Round 1, Group 2 l Round 2 l Fast Six

INDYCAR AT MID-OHIOHow to watch Sunday’s race, schedules, entry list

The championship leaders will start Sunday’s race mired in deep traffic.

Marcus Ericsson, Will Power and Josef Newgarden all failed to advance out of the first group of Saturday qualifying, then reigning series champion Alex Palou was knocked out of the second round.

“IndyCar, man,” shrugged Palou.

It created a huge opportunity for O’Ward and Scott Dixon to make up serious ground in the championship race. O’Ward and Dixon were the only two drivers ranked in the top six of the championship standings to advance to the final round of Saturday qualifying; O’Ward is ranked fourth in the standings, 45 points behind Ericsson, while Dixon trails his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Ericsson by 69 points.

O’Ward was followed in qualifying by Scott McLaughlin of Team Penske as Chevrolet drivers swept the front row. Colton Herta of Andretti Autosport was third for Honda and O’Ward teammate Felix Rosenqvist was fourth.

Dixon and Simon Pagenaud of Meyer Shank Racing rounded out the third row in Hondas.

AUTO: JUL 02 IndyCar - Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
Pato O’Ward celebrates with his Arrow McLaren SP team after qualifying fastest with the No. 5 Dallara-Chevrolet (Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

A pair of early mistakes in qualifying hampered the two championship leaders.

Indianapolis 500 winner Ericsson said dirt was being kicked back onto the track during his attempt. The current IndyCar points leader will start 13th. Power was penalized for interfering with Helio Castroneves’ laps.

Newgarden said he was stymied by traffic.

“It’s just IndyCar qualifying, sometimes it is totally fine and you have no issues,” Newgarden said. “It’s a tight track and we’re going out first and I catch the slowpokes all the time.”

Power, who trails Ericsson by 27 points in the standings, had his two fastest laps disqualified and will start 21st. He said it was a Team Penske error that likely cost him any chance of winning Sunday.

“In this series, anything can happen, but you’re not going to that many cars to fall back. You’re not going to win, put it that way,” Power said. “And weekends when you’ve got a car that can win, you cannot be doing this. This is on us, we weren’t on top of that one, and that’s the rules.”

Tatiana Calderon qualified 26th with her future in the series is in doubt because of sponsorship woes.

The Colombian driver was scheduled to drive all the road and street course races for A.J. Foyt Racing this season, but sponsor ROKiT Group is behind on its payments. Foyt still brought Calderon to Mid-Ohio because she tested the track a year ago while putting together her deal.

She’ll start 26th, but the future of the No. 11 Chevrolet beyond Sunday is not guaranteed. ROKiT is also behind on payments on the No. 14 driven by Kyle Kirkwood. The team moved associate sponsor Sexton Properties to the primary position on Kirkwood’s car at Mid-Ohio, and team president Larry Foyt is working to resolve the funding shortfall. Kirkwood will run the season regardless.

Graham Rahal qualified 18th for his 250th career IndyCar start, which fittingly will come at the track located near Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s original headquarters in Hilliard. Rahal grew up in the Columbus area.

Here’s the IndyCar starting lineup for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course (qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, engine, time, speed):


ROW 1

1. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 01:06.7054 (121.861 mph)
2. (3) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 01:06.8382 (121.619)

ROW 2

3. (26) Colton Herta, Honda, 01:07.0262 (121.278)
4. (7) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 01:07.2163 (120.935)

ROW 3

5. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 01:07.4047 (120.597)
6. (60) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 01:07.4199 (120.570)

ROW 4

7. (10) Alex Palou, Honda, 01:06.7965 (121.695)
8. (18) David Malukas, Honda, 01:06.8201 (121.652)

ROW 5

9. (14) Kyle Kirkwood, Chevrolet, 01:06.9506 (121.415)
10. (77) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 01:06.9534 (121.410)

ROW 6

11. (21) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 01:06.9843 (121.354)
12. (27) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 01:07.0155 (121.297)

ROW 7

13. (8) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 01:07.1475 (121.059)
14. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 01:07.3338 (120.724)

ROW 8

15. (06) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 01:07.1798 (121.001)
16. (30) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 01:07.4207 (120.568)

ROW 9

17. (28) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 01:07.2573 (120.861)
18. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 01:07.5909 (120.265)

ROW 10

19. (51) Takuma Sato, Honda, 01:07.4645 (120.490)
20. (29) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 01:07.6475 (120.164)

ROW 11

21. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 01:07.5559 (120.327)
22. (20) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 01:07.6745 (120.116)

ROW 12

23. (4) Dalton Kellett, Chevrolet, 01:08.2444 (119.113)
24. (45) Jack Harvey, Honda, 01:07.9362 (119.653)

ROW 13

25. (16) Simona De Silvestro, Chevrolet, 01:08.4995 (118.669)
26. (11) Tatiana Calderon, Chevrolet, 01:08.4370 (118.778)

ROW 14

27. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Honda, 01:08.5318 (118.614)