Quick Thoughts- Mid Ohio Race 2: The Weekend Andretti Needed

Photo: Matt Fraver, Indycar

Andretti Autosport took out their season long frustration on the Mid Ohio track this weekend. Outside of Marco Andretti’s  pole at Indianapolis and a third place for Alexander Rossi at Road America in Race 2, not much has gone right for the team. This weekend’s team record: four of the six podium spots, including a podium sweep yesterday; a pole, a victory, two front row starts, and 66 laps led.

Colton Herta owned yesterday. He edged Santino Ferrucci for the pole, and drove a clinical , masterful race similar to his win at Laguna Seca last year. Herta has moved to fourth in the standings with his third career win. Ferrucci’s fast lap in the first qualifying group was amazing. The track was still very wet, yet he easily topped the rest of his section.

Seventh place for Will Power yesterday had to seem like a win for him. After his Saturday dominance, Power spun on his qualifying out lap and started 17th. He could have started further back had  other drivers not had issues as well.

Scott Dixon’s drive after his spin was the most exciting thing to watch the last 50 laps. His last lap pass on VeeKay, who has made some incredible passes himself this year, was a beautiful inside move in turn 4. Dixon got just 1 more point for the effort, but he needs every point he can get. Newgarden has gained 44 points on Dixon in the last three races. Dixon still has a 72 point lead with as many as three races to go.

While there wasn’t much drama at the front of the field, there was again some very entertaining action behind the leaders.

I understand the need to shorten the races on a double header weekend this season, but 5 more laps might have made this pair of races more interesting. It was  obvious they would be two stop races with little room for strategy. The lack of yellows Saturday and the the two very early yellows Sunday didn’t allow for any changes to teams’ original plans.

Ferrucci may be a decent driver ( I’m still not completely sold on him) , but he needs to be a little less impulsive. Coming back on the track the way he did could have made the first lap incident much worse than it was.

Rinus VeeKay was just half a lap short of getting two top tens. Dixon’s pass on the last lap knocked him back to 11th Sunday after his 8th place finish Saturday. Overall, this was one of Ed Carpenter racing’s strongest rtoad course weekends in awhile. Conor Daly was in position Saturday fora top ten until a fuel issue droped him back in the last couple of laps.

Alexander Rossi finally had a decent weekend. Perhaps the most frustrated driver on the Andretti Autosport team, Rossi move in to podium spots quickly both days and didn’t yield his position. I hope he can continue this weekend’s strong run into the Harvest Classic.

Mid Ohio Sports Car Course did a great job with COVID protocols. people kept their distance, staff not only enforced the mask requirement, they also enforced the number of people per square limit. I only saw one group with more than the four person limit in a square, and a staff member asked them to split up. They complied. The track hopes to get clearance for a larger crowd for the IMSA race in two weeks.

I didn’t understand why the grandstands were closed. I thought that have in some of them open would allow the crowd to spread out even more. It seemed as if the majority of the 6,000 spectators were in the esses.

Was this the last Indycar weekend where fans will be allowed? there is no word yet on the situation for the Harvest Classic at IMS. I am still not optimistic about St. Pete happening. With the success that othet tracks have had with limited crowd sizes and the plan IMS produced for the 500, I think a limited number of fans could attend. We should know soon.

 

Herta Wins Pole, Ferrucci on Front Row

Colton Herta survived a wet and wild qualifying session to take the pole for Race 2 at Mid Ohio. Yesterday’s pole winner Will Power spun on his out lap, causing a red flag . He will start at the rear of the field.

Jack Harvey spun and crashed into the there’s causing some damage to the rear of the car. Pato O’Ward also spun but his car was not damaged.

Both group sessions were disjointed with red flag interruptions.

Points leader Scott Dixon will start 3rd. Josef Newgarden, who trails Dixon by 76 points, starts 9th.

Starting Lineup coming in a bit.

Power Looks for Mid Ohio Sweep; Dixon Hopes to Extend Lead

Today’s schedule

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Today’s race is on NBC. Make sure to set your recording on the proper channel.

Can Will Power sweep the weekend? I think he has the best chance to win both poles and both races anyone has had his year. Scott Dixon needs to finish ahead if Josef Newgarden today to regain momentum.

Pato O’Ward had a disappointing day yesterday. I hope he can salvage part of the weekend.

Can Andretti Autosport find that little extra today?

I’ll have a brief report post qualifying. My Quick Thoughts will be up tomorrow morning.

Quick Thoughts- Mid Ohio Race 1

Photo: Matt Fraver, Indycar

It was obvious after qualifying that Will Power was going to have a monster race. Any driver who can win the pole from Group 1 in this qualifying format has a really good car. The bad news for the rest of the field is that Power is in Group 2 tomorrow. The expected rain means Group 1 will got out on a green And possibly slightly wet track.

Although Power had the race well in hand, there were some good battles behind him. Alexander Rossi and teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay fought early. Rossi and Graham Rahal had a late battle for third. The Rahal home crowd perked up when Rahal nearly got by. Scott Dixon and Colton Herta also had a good fight for tenth.

If Conor Daly hadn’t run out of fuel, Rd Carpenter Racing would have had two cars in the top ten. Daly qualified fourth. Perhaps ECR might be getting more competitive on the road courses. Rinus VeeKay had another top ten. He also made another great pass in turn 4 on Herta.

It was one of Andretti Autosport’s best days of the season, with three cars in the top ten plus the Meyer Shank team getting another top ten with Jack Harvey. Hunter-Reay also started on the front row.

Speaking of Harvey, he just quietly goes about his business and keeps getting good results.

Power’s 60th pole and 38th career win move him closer to joining two legends. He is just seven poles behind Mario Andretti and one win behind Al Unser, Sr. for fifth place. He passed Sebastien Bourdain’s today on the victory list.

Josefs Newgarden made up 20 points on Scott Dixon today. How many can Dixon get back tomorrow? Dixon’s biggest ally is time.

COVID Protocols

Mid Ohio did a great job keeping fans safe. Masks were worn more today than at any other track with fans I’ve been to. Staff reminded people who had masks off to wear them and fans complied. The squares painted in orange for people to sit in were hard to see. White paint or chalk might have been better. I appreciate the concept and people respected the boundaries.

The track is hoping the success of their protocols this weekend will allow them to host more fans for the IMSA race on two weeks. All 6,000 tickets for today we’re sold.

I’ll be back with a Day 2 preview in the morning. Quick Thoughts for tomorrow’s race will be up Monday morning. Thanks for following this weekend.

Results

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Hunter-Reay Leads Practice

Ryan Hunter-Reay led the only practice session for the Honda Indy 200 with a time of 1:06.3034. The practice period was the strongest for Andretti Autosport fr vers since the Indianapolis 500. Will Power was second and Alexander Rossi finished third. Points leader Scott Dixon was fourth.

The top seven

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Mid Ohio- Busy Day for Indycar

Good morning from the Mount Vernon media center annex. Six races are on tap today, four for the Road to Indy, one for Mazda MX5 Cup, and the first practice for Indycar, followed by qualifying for the first Indycar raceof the weekend. The 75 lap event is on NBCSN at 5 pm Eastern

Today’s schedule (All Times Eastern)

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Mid Ohio Preview- Fitness, Pit Stops, Position

Rounds 9 and 10 of the NTT Indycar Series are set for Mid Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend. The races will be the fourth doubleheader weekend of this strange year. Just getting to 10 races in this season of postponements and cancellations is an accomplishment. The series has three more events left on its 2020 schedule.

The race will have an audience of up to 6,000 fans. The State of Ohio approved that number. The track requested the state to host a bit over 9,000 fans. The NFL Browns and Bengals were each allowed 6,000 fans for their first two games. 6,000 spectators should be able to distance easily at Mid Ohio if not everyone sits in the popular esses area.

The two 75 lap races will be on two different networks. Saturday’s 5 pm Eastern start is on NBCSN, and Sunday’s 1 pm Eastern green flag is on NBC. Here are some things to look for this weekend.

Physical Fitness

Mid Ohio is one the more physical tracks on the Indycar circuit. One 90 lap race, the usual distance, wears a driver out. Sunday’s race could come down to who is the most physically fit. The veterans know how to prepare for what is essentially and endurance weekend. Will the fittest driver win on Sunday? If fitness is the key for day two, look for Simon Pagenaud or Tony Kanaan to do well. The rookies have youth on their side, which should help them over the weekend.

Pit Stops

This has been a season of pit errors. No team has been immune. Mid Ohio has had some notorious pit mistakes that have cost drivers victories. Josef Newgarden was on his way to his first Indycar win when the crew called him at the last minute. The team was as shocked as Josef at the call. he pulled into an unprepared pit. the disastrous stop resulted in a drive through penalty which cost him the race.

Mikhail Aleshin had the race in hand until an unsafe pit release caused a collision with another car, ruining his day.

Pit and tire strategy nearly cost Scott Dixon the win last year. He barely hung on to beat teammate Felix Rosenqvist.

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Scott Dixon leads Felix Rosenqvist in the closing laps of the 2019 MidOhio Honda Indy 200.

Track Position

Mid Ohio is not known as a track where passing is easy. Qualifying and track position is key here. Pit strategy in what should be a two stop race each day will also play into who is at the front. If the second stop is late enough, a full fuel load may not be needed, which could help a driver pick up spots on track.

Passing has been difficult everywhere this season. The different starting times may also play a role in how much passing occurs. Will the late Saturday start and cooler track temperatures help the racing for Race 1?

Spotter’s Guides-

https://thepitwindow.blog/2020/09/09/mid-ohio-spotters-guides/

Dixon Takes Another Step Toward Title Number 6

I think Scott Dixon will win one of the races and leave mid Ohio just a short step away from his sixth Indycar title. A nother victory will put him within one of tying mario Andretti for second place on the career win list.

My prediction for the other race- Pato O’Ward will get his first Indycar victory from the pole. O’Ward has been knocking on the door of the top step of the podium and this weekend, this key finally opens the lock.

If you are going to Mid Ohio, please review the track’s protocols at

https://midohio.com/covid19.