Sunday, August 5, 2012

Dixon Rules Mid Ohio in IZOD Indycar

Mid Ohio winner Scott Dixon negotiates the esses
All hail the king of Mid Ohio: Scott Dixon. For the calculating New Zealander, Mid Ohio Sports Car Course must be starting to feel like his home track as he racked up yet another win on the twisting tarmac in central Ohio. Will Power led from the pole and controlled the first two-thirds of the race but a balky second pit stop and a clean entry/exit for Dixon forced him to give up the lead and he could never challenge Scottie D the rest of the way. Simon Pagenaud put on an impressive performance to take third place on the podium for the little team that could - Sam Schmidt Motorsports - which got the biggest cheer of all the top three finishers in Victory Lane. Not only did the Ganassi domination of Mid Ohio continue, but Honda was able to claim the top three steps on the podium in the Honda 200, so I'm sure all the folks at the race from Marysville were quite happy today.

Despite a second place finish, Will Power took over the season points lead as previous leader Ryan Hunter-Reay had a miserable day and was scored six laps behind Dixon, with an off-song engine from early in the race costing him any hope of a decent finish. RHR finished a dismal 24th (out of 25 cars) as there was only one other retirement from the race so he didn't get any help to improve his position. For the second straight road course race, Indycar put on a clean and green show from start to finish, which in itself is remarkable alone, but especially today when the weather seemed so foreboding from early morning storms. But everyone started the race on slicks and the rains stayed away all race long so the drivers could fight it out among themselves to their hearts' content. Sebastian Bourdais has a strong run for another small team into fourth ahead of James Hinchcliffe. Tony Kanaan, Ryan Briscoe, Marco Andretti, J. R. Hildebrand and Alex Tagliani rounded out the top ten in a race which was ultimately decided on fuel strategy.

I could tell walking to the keyhole after the second set of pit stops that the leaders were all saving fuel, as they were all backing off well before the third braking cones. I don't imagine it was a very exciting race for the fans who braved the threatening weather to attend today, since there were zero on track passes for the lead. But for anyone who follows racing, and especially open wheel racing, often it is the pit work which spells the difference and that was the real story today. While teammate Dario Franchitti is well down the championship standings, it looks like Scott Dixon is poised to make a late season charge. Will Power better watch out. Don't forget: I picked Dixon to win it all in my pre-season blog so it will be fun to see how things unfold these last three races. It will all get decided on an oval at Fontana and I wish I could be there. Until next time, enjoy the races and the following slideshow.

Wet Warmup for Mid Ohio Indycar

Will Power leads teammate Ryan Briscoe through Carousel turn in Sunday warmup
Sunday morning at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course started with a deluge which postponed the final Indycar warmup from its original 8:05 a.m. time slot to 9:45 and the teams got precious few laps in on the wet track. No one was concerned about lap times this morning, but staying on the track was a serious issue as the drivers battled massive plumes of spray and had to stay off the normal racing line to be able to navigate the circuit. Ed Carpenter was the first to go off track and I would expect there to be more of the same if the forecast for rain throughout the day is accurate. Many times at Mid Ohio, the Indycar race has been wet-dry-wet-dry-wet so perhaps today will be one of those days. Keeping electronics dry will be a paramount issue for everyone out here today.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Will Power on Mid Ohio Indycar Pole; Muscle Milk Dominates American LeMans

Will Power blitzes the Mid Ohio track record to win the pole
Road course maestro Will Power set a new track record in qualifying at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course to take pole position for tomorrow's IZOD Indycar Series race. In the process, he let his competition know that he is a serious contender for the season title with just four races to go including this weekend. Power oudueled nemesis Dario Franchitti and Simon Pagenaud, who continued his strong showings this season by snagging third ahead of Alex Tagliani. Scott Dixon was not happy to wind up fifth ahead of Ryan Briscoe and Sebastian Bourdais. Perhaps the most unhappy however was the Andretti Autosport team which was shut out of the Fast Six and had to settle for 8th with Ryan Hunter-Reay and 9th with Marco Andretti. Rookie Josef Newgarden rounded out the top ten with another strong showing.

The morning started off well for Justin Wilson as he was fastest in the morning practice session but he could only muster 12th when a misfire cost him top end speed during qualifying. The same cannot be said for Helio Castroneves as he had a run-in with Mike Conway heading into the Keyhole and injured his left wrist. He did not have it bandaged during qualifying but he could do no better than 13th on the clock. It will be interesting to see how sore he is tomorrow and whether it will effect his ability to race on Mid Ohio's notoriously difficult and physical road course. I would suggest that this is Will Power's race to lose however, so someone else will have to do something dramatic to take the win away from him.

In the American LeMans Series race, the Muscle Milk team of Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr motored away from the field in the slim P1 class ahead of the 16 Dyson car. A stout field of 32 high tech sports cars has a relatively clean day at the racetrack with lots of close racing but few incidents of any significance. The class pole winning P2 car driven Martin Plowman finished second in class in the race to the 55 piloted by Christoph Bouchut. One of the highlights of the day was the celebration of the 100th ALMS race of veteran Sasha Massen, who has won 30 times with 3 championships during that time. He was not rewarded on track today however as he finished 8th in GT. Oliver Gavin gave Corvette another GT win over the Flying Lizards Porsche of Jorg Bergmeister.

It was a sweltering day at Mid Ohio today and the ALMS competition was as hot as the weather.  as this racetrack always delivers for the sports car crowd who come out in droves to see the most varied equipment formula of any major racing series. Tomorrow promises even more of the same, with the threat of rain added in, for the Indycar race and I'll be covering the whole track again tomorrow again, so stay tuned for more, and please enjoy the slideshows.

Justin Wilson Tops Indycar Practice Speeds at Mid Ohio

In a potential preview of today's pole qualifying session, Justin Wilson set quick time in the final practice session Saturday morning before qualifying later today. He broke his back in a Turn 1 off track excursion last year at this race, so you know car owner Dale Coyne would love to see this weekend as Wilson's triumphant return. More as it unfolds today with Indycar qualifying set to unfold at 11:00 a.m local time - about 30 minutes from now.
Justin Wilson enters the esses in morning practice at Mid Ohio