Pato O’Ward delivered in a wild round of NTT IndyCar Series qualifying to captured pole for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The 23-year-old Mexican throttled the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet to a flying lap of 1m06.7054s (121.861 mph) around the 13-turn, 2.258-mile natural terrain road course. It is O’Ward’s first pole this season and fifth of his IndyCar career.
“It was a good session for us, man,” O’Ward said, via Peacock. “I couldn’t get the lap together in all two sections. I got it done in the third time, but yeah, the car’s been great. We didn’t really roll off the best, but we’ve made some really good changes overnight. We got her in the window and I’ve been able to extract what it has.”
Additionally, the result marks the ninth different pole-sitter in as many races this season in North America’s premier open-wheel championship. The last time there were nine pole winners to start a season was 1961. The record for most pole winners to start a season is 10, which happened in 1952.
Scott McLaughlin put up a mighty effort in the final seconds but narrowly missed out on the top spot, coming up short by 0.1328s to qualify second. It is the best start for the 29-year-old Kiwi since late March at Texas, where he the No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet in the same spot; outside of the front row.
“I’m really pumped with that,” McLaughlin said. “It’s been a little bit hard. You know, we’ve just been on the edge of the Fast Six, but then to breaking into the Fast Six and then compete for pole there. Congrats to Pato – tremendous job by him and his guys.”
The highest qualifying Honda in the field belongs to Colton Herta, who put the No. 26 Andretti Autosport machine third. Arrow McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist ended the session fourth.
Six-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon, also a record six-time winner at Mid-Ohio, put the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda fifth. Simon Pagenaud, driving for the hometown squad in Meyer Shank Racing, put together one of his best qualifying performances of the season in sixth.
Reigning series champion Alex Palou was the first driver to advance into the Firestone Fast Six and fight for pole, with the No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda finishing seventh.
A run of rookies from eighth to 10th was led by David Malukas in the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports Honda. He was followed by AJ Foyt Racing’s Kyle Kirkwood and Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott. Regarding Malukas, he appeared poised to advance into the Fast Six until coming up on O’Ward during the final run to the finish of the Fast 12, which ultimately stalled any chances of contending for pole.
Rinus VeeKay and Alexander Rossi qualified 11th and 12th, respectively.
Championship leader Marcus Ericsson ended up 13th, ahead of defending race winner Josef Newgarden in 14th.
It ended up being another tough outing for Will Power, who was set to advance out of Round 1 until IndyCar officials deemed he impeded the No. 06 Meyer Shank Racing Honda of Helio Castroneves, which resulted in a loss of his two fastest laps. Instead, the No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet of Power was left 21st
Up Next: A warm-up session is set for Sunday at 9:45 a.m. ET, with live coverage on Peacock and the IndyCar Radio Network.