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New Zealand’s McLaughlin wins IndyCar Mid-Ohio title

WASHINGTON: New Zealand’s Scott McLaughlin held off Spain’s Alex Palou over the final laps to win Sunday’s Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio for his second career IndyCar triumph. The 29-year-old Kiwi started on the outside of row one and dominated the final 50 laps of the 80-lap feature over the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course at Lexington, Ohio. “Amazing,” McLaughlin said. “I really wanted to get a win with mom and dad here. To have mom and dad here is pretty special.” McLaughlin won his only prior IndyCar title in this year’s season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida.

Palou, 25, won three races last year on his way to the season championship but has not taken the checkered flag this year, settling for runner-up finishes at Mid-Ohio, Alabama and St Petersburg. “We were so close,” Palou said. “Our car was fast. We missed it by this much again today. Super happy to be back on the podium.” Australian racer Will Power, who fell to last after a first-lap spinout, charged through the field to finish third followed in order by Dutchman Rinus VeeKay and New Zealand’s Scott Dixon.

Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson, the Indianapolis 500 winner, finished sixth but saw his season points lead shrink from 27 to 20 points over Power with American Josef Newgarden 34 back in third and Palou fourth at 35 adrift. Mexican pole-sitter Pato O’Ward, the Indy 500 runner-up, jumped to the lead at the start with McLaughlin just behind him. O’Ward’s teammate, Sweden’s Felix Rosenqvist, went out from third place after 10 laps with a mechanical failure.

O’Ward complained over his radio about losing power just before pitting on lap 30 and when he returned after the cycle of refuel stops he was third behind McLaughlin and Palou, then quickly faded before dropping out early. McLaughlin denied Palou’s pass attempt on a lap-40 restart and stayed in front after the final pit stop series with 22 laps remaining. “It was tough,” McLaughlin said. “You were thinking about the fuel. I had driveability off the restarts to get ahead. I had a great car.” The next race, the 10th of 17 season events, will be contested July 17 at Toronto. – AFP

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