Mid Ohio Musings- Title Scramble, New Looks, Silliest Season

There was a dramatic pass for the lead by Josef Newgarden to get by Will Power. There was a good battle for third between Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal in which Rahal prevailed. That was the race. The bad news, it was only lap 16. The field pretty much stayed single file with little change in order the last 74 laps. The only caution for Ed Jones came after the last pit stops, so we lost the opportunity for a position scramble.

Qualifying results landed the top seven in points in the first seven spots, which held promise for a great race. It didn’t materialize for several reasons. The lack of cautions was one. Newgarden had a clearly superior car. Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves, first and second in points coming into the race, had cars that weren’t very strong. Dixon’s problems were compounded by an issue on his last pit stop.

The most dramatic thing about the race was how the championship standings shuffled. Newgarden now leads Castroneves by seven and Dixon by eight. Power and Rahal are closer to first than they were before the race. Simon Pagenaud is still lurking in fourth. he has had a quietly good season. They still have a shot.  Sato, 72 points behind now, may have dropped from contention.

Newgarden is the first driver to win 3 times this year and only the second to win two straight.  Rahal won both races at Belle Isle. We could see a series champion with fewer wins than another driver this year.

Notes

The crowd was the largest I have seen at Mid-Ohio. I understand there was a huge Sunday walk up crowd.

It was great to Sebastien Bourdais walking through the paddock on race morning. It’s amazing that he actually got back in a race car on Monday, just 72 days after his crash during 500 qualifying.

Saturday morning there was a lot of excitement among the fans who go to most events at the track when IMSA announced it was returning next year the first weekend in May.  That event will be well attended. I really enjoyed the sportscar race at Mid-Ohio and wish they were still paired with with Indycar here and at a couple other tracks.

The new road course aerokit received lots of positive attention throughout the weekend. It was great PR for the series to have the cars in garages where fans could watch them being put together for the test today. Here is the completed kit on the Honda powered car:

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I went to the speedway aerokit test at IMS last week, so I  have seen both kits on the cars.  I really like the sleek look.  On the other hand, when the cars hit the track for the first practice Friday, I was astounded by how big and bulky the current package looks.

Was Sunday Mikhail Aleshin’s last ride at Schmidt? He didn’t help his case over the weekend with a crash and starting last. Marotti Racing will be in charge of the car for three of the last four races.  Will they bring their own driver?

I understand Coyne’s intent on keeping Esteban Guttierez behind Newgarden and wanting to get their lap back. I didn’t understand why they kept at it when it was obvious he wasn’t able to get past him. He should have let Power and Rahal by to fight for the lead. His finishing position wasn’t going to change.

I heard many Silly Season rumors swirling this weekend, some very much out there, some that are realistic, and some that would be great to see. Here’s the home version of the Silly Season game. Put team names in a bowl and driver names in another bowl then draw a team name. Decide how many cars the team drawn will have next year. Draw that number of driver names from the driver bowl. Put the team and driver names in a stack. Feel free to add some drivers not in the series right now to the driver bowl. Maybe a couple teams to the team bowl too. You might turn out to be more accurate than you could imagine.

 

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