It’s an all out uphill spring to the aces and Onoda is doing is very best to keep Midosuji from coursing ahead, but it’s proving to be a little tough for the poor kid.
But what do most people do in such situations (at least in anime)? They garner strength and inspiration from their teammates and Onoda remembers the words of Naruko, who told him that there’s always something he can do and that one thing he does so well is stick to someone and not let go. He takes those words to heart and begins to cling to Midosuji, keeping as close to him as possible without physically touching. And while that makes him veer completely off the road at one point, he pushes back and chases after Midosuji and Manami, who are still intent on continuing their race. Midosuji, who has dismissed Onoda as a mere fluke, tells Manami that Onoda keeping up with them was a huge longshot and continues to push towards the aces until they can see them up ahead. They declare that the first one break even with Fukutomi wins and they shoot off ahead to reach him, only for Onoda to suddenly appear between them.
They’re caught in a three-way tie, much to Midosuji’s irritation, and agree that they’ll have to made do with racing to the finish line. While Midosuji is obviously frustrated with Onoda’s ‘grossness’ Manami is excited about him to the point of mania and gets chills when Onoda tells him that he wasn’t aware they were racing. He finally understands that Onoda hasn’t given them all he’s got yet, and seems to derive a dark sense of glee when he tells Fukutomi that Onoda is possibly the biggest threat between them and the finish line.
Onoda wouldn’t be Onoda if he didn’t have something to apologise for, and he tells Imaizumi that he’s sorry for not being able to keep Midosuji back, but the guy, in a moment of sheer respect and friendship, tells him that he’s amazed just about everyone for how far he’s got in the race, and that they’re literally at the front of the race. He commands Onoda to make sure that Sohoku gets its jersey across the finish line before anyone else, and tells him that it’s time to race to win. I don’t think Onoda quite gets the fact that he’s got to win for himself rather than win for Sohoku as a whole, but I’ve faith that he’ll figure that out before the end and give everyone a race to remember.