Scott Dixon, Alex Palou and Will Power on the podium at Mid-Ohio in 2023.

It’s race week again for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, and there will be a significant amount of conversation at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course about the hybrid technology making its debut.

But don’t get too far off track: Alex Palou remains at the center of championship talk.

The two-time and reigning series champion is back not only to defend The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by the 2025 Civic Hybrid but also to build on his lead in the standings. The driver of the No. 10 DHL Chip Ganassi Racing Honda holds a 23-point lead over Team Penske’s Will Power.

A victory in last year’s event gave Palou three wins in succession, and he exited with a 110-point lead. The 27-year-old Spaniard can’t be in that good of a shape leaving Mid-Ohio, but another race win will put him in terrific position to become the first repeat champion since Dario Franchitti in 2011.

Palou is already part of a separation of sorts for the title. Due to finishing in the top five of seven of the season’s first eight races, Palou has put all but two opponents more than a full race distance behind. Power trails by the 23 points, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is another nine back. Everyone else is 68 points or more out of the lead.

Sunday’s race (1:30 p.m. ET, NBC, Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network) is the ninth of the season and represents the halfway point. It will be one of two natural terrain road courses remaining. Six oval races are still to come and the street race in Toronto. Palou also won last year’s race at Portland International Raceway, site of the Aug. 25 race.

But first, Mid-Ohio.

Dixon has been the dominant driver of NTT INDYCAR SERIES races on this 13-turn, 2.258-mile circuit near Lexington, Ohio. He has won six races, the most recent in 2019. He finished second to Palou last year, part of his eight top-three finishes at the venue.

Power leads all series drivers with five Mid-Ohio poles. Colton Herta of Andretti Global w/Curb-Agajanian was the fastest qualifier last year.

Among teams, Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing each have 12 wins at the track. In the past two years, each of those teams has earned three top-three finishes. Last year, it was Palou, Dixon and Power, respectively, on the podium. Palou led 48 of the 80 laps and won by 5.0242 seconds. Herta led 26 laps.

Other former series race winners at the track include Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (2015), Josef Newgarden of Team Penske (2018 and 2021), Alexander Rossi of Arrow McLaren (2018), Power (2020), Herta (2020) and Scott McLaughlin of Team Penske (2022).

Something to be factored in: The circuit has been repaved since last year's race.

The action begins Friday with the first practice set for 3:20 p.m. ET, with live coverage on Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network. Qualifying is Saturday at 3 p.m. ET on the same outlets.