Quick Thoughts- Mid Ohio Qualifying

I sure didn’t see this pole coming. Power’s season has been difficult, and he has been out of the conversation for most of the year.  He seemed almost as relieved after qualifying as he was after winning the 500 last year.

Rossi can take consolation that he is starting ahead of Newgarden this race. The first turn after the green will be interesting.

Power’s pole takes a point away from all the championship contenders.

Disappointing qualifying for Colton Herta and Spencer Pigot. Neither made the Fast Six. Herta led the last two practice sessions. Pigot was second quickest this morning.

A Ganassi car made the Fast Six, but not the one I expected. Felix Rosenqvist had decent times in practice, but was 11th overall. He had also had a couple off track excursions. Scott Dixon looked as if he had recovered from his early weekend struggles.

Rossi said he hasn’t had time to think about his renewal with Andretti yet. I still think he will win the race tomorrow.

Bourdais has been a regular in the Second Round of late. It would be great to see him get a pole this year.

All three Arrow Schmidt Peterson cars got to Round Two.  James Hinchcliffe, Marcus Ericsson, and Jack Harvey all advanced. This is Harvey’s first race since Road America, which makes his advancement more impressive.  I would love to see what that team can do full time. Harvey made the Fast Six at the Indycar Grand Prix and finished third.

Tomorrow looks to be the hottest day of the weekend with temperatures around 90 degrees at race time. It should make for an interesting race.

Power said his team is planning on three stops in the race.

Power felt that he would eventually get another pole. “It just got the point where God said, ‘Let him have it.’ ”

Back later with a full qualification report. Thanks for following along today.

 

Herta Fastest in Practice 3; Qualifying Next

Photo: Colton Herta exiting the keyhole in Practice 3. Photo: Mike Silver

 

Colton Herta picked up where he stopped yesterday afternoon, leading the NTT Indycar Series final practice session this morning. The results of this session determine the   groups for the 2:35 pm qualifying rounds.  Herta will lead Group 2 in Round 1. Group 2 will also include Alexander Rossi, Josef Newgarden, and Sebastien Bourdais.

Herta’s time of 1:05.704 was 0,058 seconds better than Spencer Pigot. Alexander Rossi was third quickest. Rossi struggled in both sessions yesterday and early in today’s round. Graham Rahal ended Practice two slowest of the 23 cars, but finished sixth this morning. Felix Rosenqvist dropped to twenty in today’s practice after posting a top ten speed yesterday.  Scott Dixon, seventh yesterday, finished 15th today.

 

Qualifying Day at Mid Ohio

Photo: Kyle McInnes

Good morning. It’s qualifying day at Mid Ohio for the Honda Indy 200.

Today’s schedule:

10:30 Practice 3     NBC Gold

2:35  Qualifying     NBCSN

Andretti Autosport has announced a media availability at 12:30 today.  Could Silly Season come to an abrupt end?

Noticed some improvements at the track yesterday. The stairs leading up to the keyhole have been replaced with a new wooden staircase. It looks nice. A new grandstand is at the exit of turn 2. I understand it was put up for the ARX event earlier this year. I might check it out during this morning’s practice.

Some questions for today:

Can Colton Herta win his second pole of the year?

Will Simon Pagenaud continue his hot streak?

Will Alexander Rossi have a better day than yesterday?

Back with a post practice wrap-up.

Was Final Practice a Race Preview?

In a furious final warm-up for the Iowa 300, Simon Pagenaud set the tone early. The polarizer turned a lap at 174..462. For most of the session no one was within four miles an hour of that speed.As shadows began to cover the front stretch and turn four, other drivers crept closer. Eventually four others= Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter, Scott Dixon, and Conor Daly, posted times in the 170 range.

We may have seen a glimpse of what tonight’s race will look like. Pagenaud has a huge advantage in speed and will try to build an early lead. He will need that cushion when his cars handling changes with the creeping shadows.

I watched most of practice from the outside of turn 3. It’s a great view watching the cars exit turn 2 and set up for turn 3. Cars appear to be able to go side by side coming out of the second turn, but one car needs to back off a bit in turn 3. The action on the backstretch is a mad scramble to get Set up for the next corner.

As always at Iowa traffic for the leaders will be challenging. The rear of the field might see the frontrunners after 10 laps.

Notes

In a move to help fans the driver’s autograph session wasps moved to beneath the grandstands. I talked to a fan who dreaded standing in the heat and sun for the session.

Marcus Ericsson backed up his 10th place qualifying by ending the practice session in 7th.

It will be interesting to see how full the grandstands are at the beginning of the race. The stands were nearly all in shadow by the end of hour long final practice.

Back after the race with Quick Thoughts.

Pagenaud Continues Title Quest with Iowa Pole

Photo: Kyle McInnes

Josef Newgarden and Alexander Rossi can hear the footsteps louder now. They faded for a bit after May, but are now coming faster. Simon Pagenaud won the pole for tomorrow night’s Iowa 300, beating his Penske teammates who will start second and third. It is Pagenaud’s third pole of the season and second consecutive top staring spot.

Pagenaud snatched the pole from teammate Will Power, who posted a two, lap time of 35.8418 seconds. Pagenaud then completed his two laps in 35.7455 seconds. Newgarden was the last driver to attempt to qualify. He appeared to have trouble negotiating turn 4 and will start third Saturday.

The three Penske cars were the only cars in the 35 second range. Takuma Sato in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda was the only driver besides the top three to post a single lap less than 18 seconds. Sato had just taken the provisional  pole from James Hinchcliffe before the first Penske car took the track.

Hinchcliffe had claimed the top spot from his Arrow Schmidt Peterson teammate Marcus Ericsson. Seven drivers failed to top Ericsson before Hinchcliffe’s run. Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay eventually topped Ericsson’s time ahead of Sato qualified. Hinchcliffe, the defending race winner, starts fifth tomorrow.

Andretti Cars Lack Outright Speed

Alexander Rossi starts sixth and Ryan Hunter-Reay rolls off ninth tomorrow. Andretti Autosport has seven victories at Iowa but trail the Penske cars by half a second. The good news is the Hondas get better fuel mileage than the Chevys, although tire degradation may prevent them from taking advantage of that edge.

The caution periods will need to play out in Rossi’s favor for him to have a shot at his third win of the year.

Notes

Pagenaud said qualifying was “very intense… I’m still shaking, but that’s what Indycar is all about.”

He said he is “living in the moment” this year, focusing on the next task once the last one is finished.

The cars from Ed Carpenter Racing qualified a disappointing 17th ( Ed Carpenter) and 19th ( Spencer Pigot).

Indycar has a final practice session at 7 pm Eastern time tonight.

Qualifying Results

img_20190719_1559312372127085060601343.jpg

 

 

Welcome to Iowa Speedway

Greetings from Iowa Speedway. It will be a warm, make that a hot day for the NTT Indycar Series drivers.  The temperature for the first practice  first practice at 11 EDT should be around 86 degrees. It will be 90 when qualifying takes place at 2 pm EDT and 92 degrees at 7 EDT for the final practice.

Last night it did not get dark until well after the race should be over tomorrow night.  The cars will be driving into a lowering sun about an hour into the race. I’m wondering if the start time will be adjusted after tonight’s practice.

Today’s Schedule – all times EDT

Practice 1- 11-12  NBC Gold

Qualifying  2:15  NBCSN

Final practice 7-8 NBC Gold

Something to look for is how the extra horsepower will affect lap times. Iwill be interesting to see how much the drivers lift in the turns.

St. Pete Extension

Adam Stern reported yesterday that the St. Pete race has been extended through 2024. A new four year agreement between the city and Green Savoree was reached. The current agreement expires after next year’s race.

This event has grown substantially over the past six years. My first time at St. Pete was 2013. I have noticed a big positive change in the race weekend since then.

 

I’ll be back with a first practice wrap-up later.