With his red tires spent, Scott Dixon hung on to beat his Ganassi Honda teammate Felix Rosenqvist by just 0.09s and win the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio before a big crowd on a Chamber of Commerce weather day.
Ryan Hunter-Reay took the final podium position while Josef Newgarden saw his point lead shrink with a 14th place finish after spinning into the gravel on the last lap trying to pass Hunter-Reay.
Will Power was 4th while Alexander Rossi rounded out the top-5 and ran out of fuel at the finish in a race that ran green the entire 90 laps. But he gained on Newgarden and is now only 16 points behind in 2nd. Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet), who was sixth, is now 47 points back and Dixon is 62 behind with four races remaining.
Honda powered cars finished 1-2-3 and their execs were happy after this Honda sponsored race.
Big sun, big crowds, big track. Today's crowd at Mid Ohio might've pushed 100,000, while the heat pushed drivers and crews alike during the day.
Mid Ohio's racing surface is wonderfully worn out. Its surface is glazed in some spots, patched in others, but most of all its size mean that drafting and aero push are big parts of the day. Passing on the track is possible, but it's much easier to pass on pit road. And so the teams strategized -- some on a 3-stop race, others on a 2-stop race. Three stop races had some of the teams pitting on lap 10, which the 2-stop teams had to push to lap 20. Which meant, according to the drivers, you had to push every lap as hard as you could, not knowing if someone on a different strategy might come around you with fresh tires.
The race got started with a bang on lap one when Takuma Sato managed to hit both Arrow Schmidt Peterson cars. Marcus Ericsson was put out of the race, while James Hinchcliffe lost 3 laps trying to fix a broken toe link. Marcus finished last, Hinchcliffe next to last. In addition, Santino Ferrucci suffered a broken wing in the mess, and finished a disappointing 12th. Combined with Rosenqvist's strong showing, Ferrucci is no longer the rookie of the year points leader.
However, there was no caution period on the day (explaining why Ferrucci never changed his wing) and the parade ran on. By lap 10, some of the cars were coming in, and perhaps those who were originally on a 2-stop strategy reconsidered and pitted by lap 15 in order to get out of the conga line.
|Rosenqvist should have won and if he had one more lap Dixon would have been toast. How come the officials did not give the move over flags to the lapped traffic that was holding Rosenqvist the last 5 laps and ruined his win? Were they biased and wanted Dixon to win, or were they eating a baloney sandwich and missed it?|
The pitting action caused an incident on lap 16 when Colton Herta managed to punt Sebastien Bourdais in one of the corners. The incident was clearly Colton's fault, but race control didn't issue any penalty. Colton went on to finish 8th. A clearly frustrated Sebastien finished 11th -- aided by a pit road speeding penalty -- and politely declined comment after the race.
By lap 20, Felix Rosenqvist was in second place, on a 3-stop strategy, while team mate Scott Dixon was in third. In fact, by this point, the cars that started on the black tires were in the front -- 4 of the top 6 cars on lap 22.
The race then continued, with seemingly someone pitting on every lap. RC Enerson (running for Carlin this week) commented to us that the tires would start going away after 5-6 laps, but the lowering fuel level would keep the lap times mostly the same. Still, every lap was a struggle. AJ Foyt's cars were lost all weekend, and finished 18th and 20th. Zach Veach finished between them in 21th, and commented after the race, "Tomorrow I will wake up and this race will have never happened". Even for those in contention the found the going tough -- Spencer Pigot told us that his steering got heavier and heavier as the day went on and rubber accumulated. And the frustrated Bourdais sat on pit road after the race, hosed down under an ice bag with 2 fans pointed his direction after the race.
The biggest damage of the day was incurred by Josef Newgarden. On lap 40, his fuel rig malfunctioned leading to a pit stop that was some 8-10 seconds longer than he normally would've had. This put in back in traffic around 6th place, and he struggled to recover. Conversely by lap 52 Scott Dixon had set sail and was effectively in his own area code. The points damage was monumental. As Newgarden tried to recover for a podium on the last few laps he spun off of the track and finished 14th.
Strangely, the Penske team -- which has qualified so strongly -- had a disappointing day. Will Power lead early, but mid-race faded back to a clump racing for positions 5-11, and finished 4th. Simon Pagenaud was never a factor and finished 6th. Also in that clump was Alexander Rossi who finished 5th.
Fortunately for the race fans, the last 5-10 laps did prove to be interesting. Scott Dixon was nursing both tired alternate (red) tires as well as conserving fuel, allowing team mate Felix Rosenqvist, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Josef Newgarden to gather behind him. Chip Ganassi did let the team mates race for the win, but Felix did keep in mind Chip's #1 rule about not wrecking your team mate. They raced clean, but, in the end, Scott Dixon is the king of Mid Ohio.
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "I think it was, honestly, with about 15 to go, I started moaning to the team. 'I'm like, man, I think we're going to have to pit again.' A lot of it, I think, was just bad choices from my front. I think after the race, Chip (Ganassi, team owner) said that he had decided that we should have gone to blacks (Firestone primary tires). And I said, 'Well, how did you and the team -- how did we not go to blacks?' But I said, 'It looks like the reds (Firestone alternate tires) are holding on pretty well,' but we made adjustments to the first set of sticker reds and had quite a bit of understeer. We made those changes for the used second set that already had four laps on it from qualifying and they just couldn't take it. It was too aggressive. Luckily, I used them early to try and get past some of those (lapped) traffic cars that did help us later on, I think, at least (to) delay Felix (Rosenqvist, teammate) getting to us. But ultimately, had we gone to the black tires, we would have maintained our eight- or ten-second gap, but it definitely made it exciting for me and I'm sure everybody else. And huge respect for Felix. He drove clean, and ultimately, I don't know, it was going to be hard for any car to come past, even though we were about three seconds slower a lap than anyone else."
FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 Clover Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): (About if he had mixed emotions after almost winning the race): "Yes and no. I think we have to keep the perspective. Had our first podium today and also a one-two finish for Chip Ganassi Racing. Obviously tough when I think we really had the right strategy and the pace to win the race. With those five (lapped) cars in front of us it was going to be difficult, and I was really frustrated on the radio. Barry (Wanser), my strategist, tried to really keep me calm and (we) tried to pick off (the lapped cars) one by one, so I used a lot of push-to-pass to get through (Max) Chilton and Marco (Andretti) and whoever was in front of me. I think it's a bit of a shame because maybe at times we were missing out on a good battle when you had to race cars that were fighting for P24. But anyways, that's what it is. I really want to credit Chip (Ganassi, team owner) for letting us race. The last lap, I think everyone really enjoyed that. We were enjoying it. We were banging wheels in Turn 2 there, (it) was a bit exciting. But Scott (Dixon) is always going to fight you hard, but fair, and I think I did the same, and maybe one more lap we could have got him. But yeah, it was awesome."
|Hunter-Reay drove a strong race to finish 3rd|
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "We were really pushing hard there at the end, and to see how quickly we were closing on (Scott) Dixon and (Felix) Rosenqvist I thought they were in traffic and I thought, man, this could go anybody's way. I'm not really sure what Josef (Newgarden) was thinking there doing that. He tried to go around the outside and the line through that corner is that you do a diamond and you come back to the apex so he had to expect I was coming back at some point, and then just shoved his nose in there. I don't know, with the championship like that, (as the points) leader, (it) totally baffled me. I'm just glad it didn't cut down our right rear tire after fighting like that all day. We started 10th. Amazing strategy from this No. 28 DHL Honda team. Obviously, we've had a string of pretty poor results lately, and it's just a matter of execution. We stumbled at Iowa. We really gambled when it went cold at night. We thought it was going to be more of an understeering race, and we put all our money down on the table and we lost it all in the first hand. That's how sometimes this sport goes. But we were close today. We were closing in on these guys. Obviously, congrats to Ganassi. They ran a great race, good strategy, and we were closing on them, but just came up a little bit too short so if we keep knocking on the door like that we'll win plenty. It was nice to just get back on form where we should be."
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was a tough race, honestly. It was difficult to predict the tire strategy. The red (Firestone alternate) tires were way better when the track temps came up, and unfortunately we used them at the beginning so it just didn't play into our strategy. It was a pretty frustrating end for Team Penske, really frustrating to see Josef (Newgarden) in the tires at the end. So, overall, not a great team day, but it was a solid finish for the Verizon Chevy. We'll take it and move on."
ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): "It was a difficult day overall for us. We didn't seem to have the pace on either tire (Firestone alternate red and Firestone primary black tires). The team did a good job, kept me focused and we stayed with it and got a top five. We know we have to get points and, fortunately, luck was on our side today. The NAPA Andretti Honda team has done a great job all year. We've had pace - we've always been there. We just need some more race wins and, hopefully, we can get that after the two-week break. We just need to refocus and hit 'em hard at Pocono."
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): "It was pretty difficult for us to keep up the pace at the end because our car started getting very loose, but overall it was a good race and I thought we got the best finish we could with the Menards Chevrolet. We committed to a three-stop strategy and we got caught behind traffic after pretty much every pit sequence, so that cost us quite a bit. It's unfortunate because I think that strategy could've worked well. The good news is we picked up some points and we're definitely still in the hunt for the championship."
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Autogeek Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): "Coming home seventh is not a bad result. It was an interesting race, but it was also tough. I would have liked to have started higher up this afternoon, but to pass the cars we did and have that pace it was really encouraging. The car was great and everyone at Ed Carpenter Racing did a great job with both the strategy and the pit stops. A lot of positives to take away from this one. It was a lot of fun, pretty much 90 laps all out. We were trying to leapfrog people in the pits and pass them in the pits. It was entertaining for me. I hope it was for the fans as well."
COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda): "The Honda (Indy) 200 was an unfortunate race for me today. I know the No. 88 Capstone Honda car was capable of getting on the podium today, so it's disappointing that we finished ninth. We had excellent pit stops and the boys worked so hard this weekend, but we should still feel good about a top-10 finish. Looking forward to getting back on track at Pocono Raceway in a few weeks."
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda): "On the start, there was contact ahead and then the seas parted so we got a few spots then. Our strategy was right, I think, but we just couldn't hang on to the tires and got caught out in lapped traffic there in the end. The car didn't feel great, which was frustrating. It wasn't the result we wanted, of course, but it was a top-10 finish and we'll take it. We creeped to within 10 points of Takuma (Sato), but lost a little ground to (Ryan) Hunter-Reay but we'll be back on them in a couple of weeks' time in Pocono and hopefully have a good race. The crowd was phenomenal here, absolutely phenomenal. There's nothing like being at home. We had a pretty ugly weekend on the track, but the fans made my weekend and I want to thank them."
JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation SiriusXM Honda): "It was a well-deserved top-10 finish. We ran between P8 and P12 all weekend, so we ended the race in that same realm. There is a bit of disappointment because we have been performing so well, so our expectations are rising. We all want to do a great job for AutoNation and SiriusXM and especially at Michael's (Shank, team owner) home track. We know we can do better and while I was pushing hard - I made a mistake which let Graham (Rahal) get by. Overall, it was a very successful weekend for the Meyer Shank Racing crew."
Remainder of Drivers (alphabetical):
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 UniFirst / Curb Honda): "It was a tough race. Unfortunately, qualifying didn't go as well as we would have hoped. There were no yellows in the race, which also didn't help. We moved up as much as we could, but the cards weren't in our favor today to make something big happen. We need to work on qualifying the car better, especially at tracks that are so dependent on the starting position and start to get the results we need."
MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): "It's always a physical race here, especially when there aren't any yellows at all. We had solid pace for most of the race in the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet, but we really just struggled on the scrubbed reds (Firestone alternate tires) in that third stint. It's just so difficult to overtake at Mid-Ohio, especially without any restarts. We started out on a two-stop strategy, but ultimately switched over to a three stop. We were able to make it work, but we just couldn't get around the cars in front of us. We definitely had a quicker car than our results showed, but that's just how it worked out for us, unfortunately."
RC ENERSON (No. 31 Lucas Oil School Carlin Chevrolet): "It was a pretty good race for us. I think we finished P17, so not too bad. We struggled a little bit at the start to find pace and we weren't 100 percent sure what we wanted to do on strategy, but once we got out into clean air we started to pick up some pace in the No. 31 Lucas Oil School Carlin Chevrolet. We were able to make up some spots and pick off some of the stragglers who didn't quite have the pace, moving us up about five spots from where we started. I'd say it was a pretty good weekend and it felt really good to be back in the car and get comfortable again."
MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "Obviously, a short and disappointing afternoon for us ending our day pretty much in the first corner of the race. I was side-by-side with (teammate) James (Hinchcliffe) when I got hit really hard by (Takuma) Sato, and that made me bounce into James and obviously damaged both of our cars. That ended our day from there. Very disappointing, especially since we had a good qualifying yesterday and a good warmup session where we knew we had a really strong race car. I think we could have had a good race, but it was not our day. Really just disappointed for the whole Arrow SPM team, but we will bounce back."
SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda): "The race started well, but I got caught up in an incident in front of me. I couldn't stop in time and I just drove right into the back of (Graham) Rahal's car. Unfortunately, we lost a lot of spots because of that and we broke the front wing. The car was still driveable despite the damage, but driving 90 laps around this track with a broken front wing was a challenge. At the end of the day, I think we raced really well to come back to 12th. The team did a great job and our pit stops were really good. Now I can look forward to my home race (at Pocono Raceway) in a few weeks."
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda): "We got hit on Lap 1, which put us two laps down with a bent car. Obviously, not ideal with no yellows. We didn't get a chance to get our laps back, which is unfortunate because we had fastest lap of the race, so the No. 5 Arrow car was quick but didn't get a chance to show it today."
ED JONES (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet): "On the start, I tried to optimize as much as I could to make up as many positions as possible. I think we did a good job with that. We executed everything well; there were no mistakes on track; I never got passed on track and the guys did a good job in the pits. Ultimately, we just weren't quite quick enough today. We'll make some improvements to get better pace for Portland, then we'll be up there."
TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "I honestly don't have much to say. Starting all the way back, we had to gamble on some strategy moves. Without a yellow during the race there was no gain on what we planned, so we raced by ourselves the whole time."
MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "It was a very difficult race here at Mid-Ohio and disappointing considering we had a good pace in the practices. The pace was not good, the tire degradation was not good, so I think it was a combination of factors that didn't allow us to move forward up the grid."
|Newgarden choked when it counted|
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet): "I just forced the issue. I was trying to get on the podium there. I got into the side of (Ryan Hunter-Reay), looped it around and lost power. It was my fault trying to force the issue. I wish I could've kept the engine running. That was the big thing. We had a great car today with PPG on board. Chevy did a wonderful job. I wish we could've done more there at the end. It just wasn't meant to be."
TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): "The start was a difficult situation to predict. There was an accordion effect with cars, and when I saw it I had a good, clear gap in front of me. Looking at the replay, Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) had to slow down because he ran wide and it looks like Marcus (Ericsson) just cut inside and that angle was difficult for me to avoid and unfortunately we touched together, which gave me a left front (tire) puncture. And then, I got wide for the very next corner and picked stones up in the next corner, and then we came back to the pit to change the tire. And our pace was actually faster than the leader so that was very encouraging but unfortunately, the fuel rig was damaged by stones so every time we tried to fuel we only got about 90 percent of the fuel. We tried to make it a two-stop race, but obviously the fuel wasn't full each time so we couldn't make it. We were hoping for a yellow, but we had to make a late stop for a splash of fuel. It was a tough race."
ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): "Overall, the most difficult day I have ever had. We didn't start the race with something we were super confident in and as soon as we put on the blacks (Firestone primary tires), we were really just struggling for pace overall. It was a tough day to swallow. We now have to focus on Pocono, which is next, and try to turn things around. This year we keep struggling to find something that allows us to go quick like we had last year - it's just a feel thing."
|2||6||10||Rosenqvist, Felix (R)||Honda||90||0.0934||3||Running||41||296|
|8||7||88||Herta, Colton (R)||Honda||90||12.9546||3||Running||24||245|
|12||14||19||Ferrucci, Santino (R)||Honda||90||21.2696||3||Running||18||259|
|14||3||2||Newgarden, Josef||Chevy||89||-1 Lap||3||Off Course||17||504|
|15||19||98||Andretti, Marco||Honda||89||-1 Lap||3||Running||15||218|
|16||16||59||Chilton, Max||Chevy||89||-1 Lap||3||Running||14||131|
|17||22||31||Enerson, RC (R)||Chevy||89||-1 Lap||3||Running||13||13|
|18||21||4||Leist, Matheus||Chevy||89||-1 Lap||3||Running||12||182|
|19||17||30||Sato, Takuma||Honda||89||-1 Lap||4||Running||11||322|
|20||23||14||Kanaan, Tony||Chevy||89||-1 Lap||3||Running||10||199|
|21||20||26||Veach, Zach||Honda||89||-1 Lap||3||Running||9||206|
|23||12||7||Ericsson, Marcus (R)||Honda||2||-88 Laps||1||Contact||7||219|
Winner's average speed: 115.837 mph
Time of Race: 1:45:15.6974
Margin of victory: 0.0934 of a second
Lead changes: 7 among 4 drivers
Power, Will 1 - 24
Rosenqvist, Felix 25 - 27
Power, Will 28 - 29
Newgarden, Josef 30 - 40
Rosenqvist, Felix 41 - 45
Dixon, Scott 46 - 59
Rosenqvist, Felix 60 - 66
Dixon, Scott 67 - 90
NTT IndyCar Series point standings: Newgarden 504, Rossi 488, Pagenaud 457, Dixon 442, Power 356, Hunter-Reay 333, Sato 322, Rahal 312, Rosenqvist 296, Hinchcliffe 287.