Two drivers, Luca Fillipi and James Davison, are making their Izod IndyCar series debut this weekend. We caught up with Fillipi, who has replaced Alex Tagliani in the #98 Barracuda Networks Honda. He said that overall the car was pretty much what he expected, and he was happy to have the opportunity. We then started talking about the big ovals of Texas and California — and Fillipi quickly replied, "Uh, let's try one thing at a time, okay?" Filippi was 19th fastest in morning practice. Davison is in the #18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda with Sonny's BBQ sponsorship on the side pods, and Sonax on the front wings. Other notable livery changes for the weekend, include Schmidt Petersen Motorsports Tristan Vautier with Angie's List sponsorship. The #55 Honda has been a revolving door of sponsorships in recent weeks, with Coastal sunglasses for the Iowa and Pocono rounds, and "Visit Florida," for the Toronto doubleheader. This weekend the car is painted yellow and green.
Helio Castroneves is sporting the sharp blue, white and black PPG Automotive Finishes colors on the #3 Penske Chevrolet.
We bumped into Graham Rahal this morning. He made an interesting point in that said that since Mid Ohio is his "local track" that people think he's run dozens of races and thousands of laps here. He said that while he did spend a lot of time here growing up, he's only run 6 races here — and 4 of those are in IndyCar. Graham has been fighting gremlins again this week, as the fuel pump fubar'd for Wednesday practice. He did get out on the track today, running 22 laps, 11th fastest in the session.
Although we didn't talk to Conor Daly, we saw him hanging around the A.J. Foyt pit area earlier. Not sure what, if anything, that means.
Speaking of A.J. Foyt's team, Takuma Sato was dead last in the first session, almost 2 1/2 second slower than Dixon. Of drivers from one-car teams, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's Josef Newgarden was fastest in thirteenth place.
KV Racing is off to slow start. Simona de Silvestro was only 18th fastest, and Indy 500 champ Tony Kanaan 17th. Kanaan also had a small off on Wednesday, tearing off the rear wing.
James Hinchcliffe and Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport briefly met with the media this morning. Hinchcliffe was asked if the rain from Wednesday morning's test set the team back at all. The driver of the #27 Go Daddy Chevrolet noted that the three-week break gave the engineers time to come up with a list, and that all the test time the teams could get would be good. While Andretti Autosport has some work to do to catch the Ganassi boys, they did put three cars in the top-7.
All in all, right now everyone is scratching their head trying to figure out how to catch Dixon. More to follow
Brian C. and Tim Wohlford reporting from Mid-Ohio