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.

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