Photo by Matt Fraver, Indycar
Charlie Brown got to kick the football at last. On his third try to win a race from the pole, Josef Newgarden hung on despite rapidly fading tires to win the Honda Indy 200 at Mid Ohio. Marcus Ericsson made up much of the eight second gap he had with less than 10 laps to go to finish just 0.8 seconds behind.
Newgarden;s win ended a season of frustration for himself and Team Penske as both took their first victory of the year. In Detroit race 2, Newgarden lost to Pato O’Ward as his tires could not maintain pace in the final three laps. At Road America gearbox issue with two laps to go caused Newgarden to fade to 21st from the lead. Will Power had Detroit race 1 in hand until his car would not restart after a red flag.
The race was a decent one for Mid Ohio, with a nice battle for positions third through sixth in the middle of the race.
Marcus Ericsson once again stood ready to take advantage of a Team Penske misfortune, but Newgarden was able to hang on this time. Ericsson is becoming a great teammate to points leader Alex Palou and Scott Dixon, who is third in points. He sits 5th in points, 104 points behind Palou.
Palou did what he needed to do in what I thought was a championship drive yesterday. He got the most points he could, and he only lost points to the contending driver farthest away from him. Newgarden still trails Palou by 69 points with six races to go.
Pato O”Ward picked his way through the field from 20th to finish eighth and maintain second place in the standings. He trails Palou by 39 points.
Will Power’s season of frustration continues. Yesterday’s lap 4 crash ended what could have been a very strong day for the 2014 series champion. I’m not sure there is any blame to assess here. he and Dixon had a great duel through turns 4 and 5.
Santino Ferucci has driven in four races in 2021 and has four top ten finishes with a ninth place yesterday. Has Rahal found his third full time car? The sponsor, Hy Vee, has to like what they’re seeing. Ferrucci started 22nd.
Romain Grosjean continues to impress with a great save in the keyhole after being blocked by Sebastien Bourdais. His seventh place finish rom 18th on the grid was one of several great drives yesterday. Grosjean has four top tens in seven races.
Ryan Norman had a respectable outing in his Indycar debut. Although he finished 20th, he had worked his way up to 15th at one point and seemed to be on a good pace.
I find it sad that Simon Pagenaud is not a in the conversation for agood finish anymore.
Are the hot seats getting hotter for Felix Rosenqvist, James Hinchcliffe, and Ryan Hunter-Reay? Sunday’s first lap incident involving all three drivers didn’t help their causes any.
Colton Herta’s race woes continue. Two bad pit stops knocked Herta out of contention yesterday. He qualifies well, but the team needs to work on the race setup.
Jack Harvey’s team needs to rethink their strategy. Once again, they chose an off strategy move which didn’t pay off. The Meyer Shank team seems too eager to try something different instead of seeing how the race will play out. They have been in a funk since winning the Indianapolis 500 with Helio Castroneves.
It was a profitable day for the Ohio State Troopers, who were busy all day, “welcoming” motorists to Ohio on Interstates 71 and 70.
The crowd was near the normal size for Mid Ohio. Indycar races on July 4th have not been well attended in the past. While I would prefer to celebrate the 4th in some other fashion, I was okay with the relatively short drive in the same day.
I liked the early start time. Even if Mid Ohio returns to its traditional date next year, I hope they retain the noon start,.