Alex Palou

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES reaches its halfway point during this weekend’s The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by the 2025 Civic Hybrid at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It’s also time for a reset of sorts.

Competitors in the second half of the season will use INDYCAR’s new hybrid power unit, a first-of-its-kind collaboration between Honda and Chevrolet. How drivers generate and then use the new energy will go a long ways to determining how races are won – or lost.

SEE: Race Details

There is additional weight with the new technology, and that will impact fuel mileage and tire wear over the life of a full segment of running. Projections are it will add 60 horsepower. We’ll have to see how all that comes together in strategy.

This statement by Mark Stielow, General Motors’ director of motorsports competition engineering, might sum it up: “I think Sunday afternoon we’ll all be standing around going, ‘Wow, I didn’t expect that.’”

Here’s what we know from an on-track standpoint: Reigning series champion Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing will take a 23-point lead over Team Penske’s Will Power into this event. Sunday’s 80-lap race will be the ninth of 17 races this season, and it will air at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network. The other factor: A recent repaving of this 13-turn, 2.258-mile natural terrain road course which Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi estimates will add between 4 to 7 percent more grip.

Palou will aim to defend last year’s victory at Mid-Ohio, but Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon is the winningest NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver at this circuit in Lexington, Ohio.

How all of that is impacted by the introduction of the hybrid technology is anyone’s guess. That’s the reset the 27-car field is about to experience.

Introducing Hybrid Technology

The existing 2.2-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 engine is still in use. The hybrid technology comes in the form of an energy recovery system, with a low-voltage Motor Generator Unit (MGU) and Energy Storage System (ESS), both of which fit in the bellhousing located between the combustion engine and gearbox.

The system captures what would otherwise be wasted energy generated under braking and uses it to charge the supercapacitors within the unit. The regeneration can either be automatic or manually controlled by the driver. When deployed, the ESS sends the energy to the MGU, which is linked to the driveshaft, adding up to 60 horsepower at the drivers’ disposal. Combined with INDYCAR’s proven Push to Pass system, the hybrid can offer an additional 120 horsepower.

One of the benefits will be the ability for drivers to restart their cars themselves if they spin and stall the engine on the track, and that reduces the need for the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team to be deployed, reducing the number and length of caution periods.

Consistency Still Palou’s Strength

There are two facets to Palou’s success over the past two seasons. One, he wins races. Two, he’s massively consistent.

There have been 25 races since the start of last season, and Palou has 20 top-five finishes. That dwarfs the totals of Dixon (15), Josef Newgarden and Pato O’Ward (11 each), Power (10) and Scott McLaughlin (nine).

Palou’s 20 is comprised of seven race wins, a second-place finish, five thirds, three fourths and four fifths. Not surprisingly, those have helped him score a staggering 941 points. Next closest over the past two seasons: Dixon with 831. After that, it’s O’Ward with 692.

As for wins over the past two-plus seasons, Palou’s seven are two more than the next-highest total. Dixon and Newgarden each have five.

Success Has Parity at Mid-Ohio

While Dixon has the most series victories at this venue with six, this event has witnessed an unprecedented run of parity.

Different drivers have won the past seven races, and they represented three different teams. That’s three from Team Penske (Power, Newgarden and McLaughlin), two from Chip Ganassi Racing (Dixon and Palou) and two from Andretti Global (Rossi and Colton Herta).

In this weekend’s 27-car field, the other driver with a series victory at Mid-Ohio is Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal (2015).

Marcus Ericsson of Andretti Global (second in 2020) and Felix Rosenqvist of Meyer Shank Racing (second in 2019) also have podium finishes in the series at Mid-Ohio.

But again, it comes back to Palou, who has finished on the podium in all three of his Mid-Ohio races as a Chip Ganassi Racing driver.

Watch Herta for the Pole

Power is obviously the best qualifier of any generation – he has a series record 70 poles, including five at Mid-Ohio – but Herta is arguably next-best among active drivers.

In 90 attempts, Herta has 12 poles, a success rate of 13.3 percent. Dixon’s 28 poles have come in 393 starts (8.7 percent) while Newgarden’s 17 poles have come in 206 starts (8.3 percent). Power wins the pole 23.9 percent of the time.

Herta won last year’s NTT P1 Award at Mid-Ohio, one of eight he’s scored on natural terrain road courses. This year’s pole in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear pushed him into a tie with Parnelli Jones on the sport’s all-time list. Next up on that list are Greg Ray, Ryan Briscoe and Simon Pagenaud. Herta is only two poles from Tom Sneva’s career total.

The Weekend Schedule

NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers will get their first chance to experiment with the new energy recovery system during Friday’s weekend-opening practice at 3:20 p.m. ET.

Saturday’s action features the event’s second practice will be at 10:50 a.m. ET with qualifying for the NTT P1 Award at 3 p.m. The 30-minute pre-race warmup is set for Sunday at 10:25 a.m. All these sessions will air live on Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

The weekend also includes INDY NXT by Firestone, which has its 35-lap race Sunday at 11:15 a.m. ET (Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network).