Skip to content

IndyCar: Mid-Ohio weekend analysis, musings, and observations

Aug 4, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

MidOAnalysis AP

LEXINGTON, Ohio – The first race in the “final four” for the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season is in the books. Round 15 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course featured some surprises and ultimately a rare performance for 2014: a Scott Dixon and Target Chip Ganassi Racing victory. Here’s the weekend summation:

  • When do they rename the joint Mid-Ohio Scott Dixon Wins, Of Course? ‘Ol “Scotty Dog” has had a tough season in defense of his 2013 championship, not really through any fault of his own but more due to an ever so slight performance gap that the Chip Ganassi Racing team has spent the entirety of the year trying to catch up. But Sunday? Yeah, he needed strategy to get to the lead but once he got there, Dixon had the speed to burn to ultimately pull away from Sebastien Bourdais and James Hinchcliffe in the final stages. All while saving fuel. As Hinchcliffe said when asked what he thought of Mid-Ohio, it was, “Scott Dixon winning… Scott Dixon winning… Scott Dixon winning again… yep, Scott Dixon won again.” Sunday’s win was Dixon’s fifth in eight years (2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014), coming with the old car, the new car, and both engine manufacturers (Honda, Chevrolet) for the new car.
  • Could Dixon steal the title? The short answer is no. The longer answer is very slightly still possible. With his win and Helio Castroneves finishing 19th, Dixon gained 42 points on the Brazilian this race, and he also gained 25 on Will Power. So with three races remaining, Dixon is 108 points behind new leader Power, and with a double-points finale at Auto Club Speedway at Fontana he still has a mathematical chance (wins pay 100 points and a gain of 88 points from first to 22nd is possible). But in sixth, he’ll need to win the next two races and hope the five ahead of him have an avalanche of bad luck in order to have a realistic one.
  • Newgy’s bitter luck strikes again: What can you do when your team lets you down? Grin, bear it and take it like a pro, or break down and lose it. Fortunately Josef Newgarden chose the former after his bitter disappointment on Sunday.
  • Rain reigns… just like it has most of this year: Rain again made for an abnormal flow to the race weekend. It’s affected a wealth of races this year – Mid-Ohio was just the latest – and a funky qualifying session saw teams gamble depending on the weather conditions. The debate rages over Firestone’s new wet weather tire, which has been a subject of controversy in the paddock of late. There’s also a debate as to whether yours truly holds the “championship belt” for rain delays… actually there’s little debate on that (it’s an inside joke run amuck, that’s been particularly pertinent this season).
  • Championship fight on the back burner: Power took the lead from Castroneves, but none of the title contenders ended in the top five. Ryan Hunter-Reay had a miserable day and Simon Pagenaud was anonymous all weekend, surprisingly; the Frenchman started and finished ninth. Does anyone want this championship?
  • Underrated, great run from Graham Rahal: Perhaps overlooked but turning in one of his most impressive performances of the season was Graham Rahal in the No. 15 National Guard RLL Honda, at his home race. Rahal – who could have podiums at both Houston races and also ran well at Iowa and Toronto before falling back – qualified seventh, consistently ran within the top five all day and ended fifth. Believe it or not this was only Rahal’s second top-five of the season, but was a big confidence booster heading into the final three races.
  • Similar story for Carlos Munoz: The Colombian rookie made his first Firestone Fast Six in the No. 34 Cinsay/AndrettiTV.com Honda and posted his best result since Pocono with fourth place on Sunday. Munoz hadn’t finished in the top five on a road or street circuit since Houston Race 1, when he finished third behind countrymen Carlos Huertas and Juan Pablo Montoya.
  • Two cautions, thus two more than in the last two years: The first lap caution and the second caution for Hunter-Reay’s spin made it two cautions in Sunday’s race – which is two more than the Verizon IndyCar Series produced the last two years this race. Both the 2012 and 2013 races went caution-free.
  • Silly season, schedule on the back burner: In recent years you’d have figured silly season and schedule talk would be emerging, but not right now. The condensed schedule means most focus will be on the championship chase over this month, and then everything else – all the lingering questions – will be addressed later.
  • Coffee shortage: This one had nothing to do with the on-track action, but more the internals in the media center. Coffee was hard to find this weekend, unless you went by Honda, in which case the coffee was awesome as ever at its home race. Sadly, a win was as elusive for Honda as coffee was for the rest of us media folks outside their hospitality – Chevrolet won its third straight race at a Honda-sponsored event (Chevrolet swept the Honda Indy 2 in Toronto; this was the Honda Indy 200).

That’s all from Mid-Ohio for me. My home race of Milwaukee occurs in two weeks, and you can bet we’ll have a wealth of coverage leading into the ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest Presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers on August 17 on MotorSportsTalk.

Latest Posts
  1. Graham Rahal feels ‘really good’ about Detroit Dual

    May 27, 2015, 1:16 PM EDT

    Graham Rahal Graham Rahal

    After three straight top-five finishes, Graham Rahal returns to the site of his only 2014 podium.

  2. Volkswagen Andretti pair of Foust, Speed seek better fortunes, consistency

    May 27, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT

    Photo: Red Bull Content Pool Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

    Ahead of the Red Bull GRC season, Tanner Foust and Scott Speed look for better luck in the pair of Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross Beetles.

  3. Charlie Kimball looks to capitalize on Indianapolis performance in Detroit Dual

    May 27, 2015, 12:28 PM EDT

    Charlie Kimball Charlie Kimball

    Charlie Kimball says his team has hit its stride after two straight top-five finishes.

  4. Wilson adds Andretti FE to his diverse racing portfolio, racing at Moscow

    May 27, 2015, 10:41 AM EDT

    Justin Wilson AP

    Wilson and Andretti continue relationship at FE race in Moscow.

  5. Racing for Cancer, DeBoer partner ahead of Le Mans Festival

    May 27, 2015, 9:23 AM EDT

    deboer_3D_rendering_lemans

    Racing for Cancer to make trip to this year’s Le Mans, with Derek DeBoer in an Aston Martin Vantage GT4.

  6. Red Bull GRC course layout for Ft. Lauderdale opener revealed

    May 27, 2015, 8:16 AM EDT

    FtLauderdaleMain Getty Images

    The Red Bull GRC season kicks off in Fort Lauderdale this weekend.

  7. Fast Facts: Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit

    May 27, 2015, 7:44 AM EDT

    IndyCar Detroit Auto Racing AP

    Fast facts heading into this weekend’s Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit, courtesy of IndyCar PR staff.

  8. Chaves wins Indy 500 Rookie of the Year honors

    May 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Chaves best of two first-year drivers in 99th Indianapolis 500.

  9. Nelson Piquet, SH Rallycross look for big second year in Red Bull GRC

    May 26, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Photo: Red Bull Content Pool Photo: Red Bull Content Pool

    Look out for Nelson Piquet Jr. and SH Rallycross to have a big year in 2015.

  10. Drivers ponder why cars didn’t go airborne during the Indianapolis 500

    May 25, 2015, 5:40 PM EDT

    Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power Juan Pablo Montoya, Will Power

    Runner-up Will Power said it’s as simple as making the cars slower.

  11. Juan Pablo Montoya feted by peers worldwide for Indy win

    May 25, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT

    Juan Pablo Montoya Juan Pablo Montoya

    After his second triumph in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, he is ovewhelmed by congratulatory messages.

  12. Montoya’s Indianapolis 500 win adds another storied chapter to the Roger Penske-Chip Ganassi rivalry

    May 25, 2015, 2:12 PM EDT

    Chip Ganassi, Roger Penske Chip Ganassi, Roger Penske

    They are the only car owners to win the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 in the same season.

  13. WSR: Jaafar seizes championship lead with Monaco win

    May 25, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    © Renault Sport © Renault Sport

    The Mercedes-affiliated youngster clinches his first win of the season around the legendary streets of Monaco.

  14. WRC: Latvala claims first win of 2015 at Rally Portugal

    May 25, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT

    PORTO, PORTUGAL - MAY 24:
Jari Matti Latvala of Finland and Mikka Anttila of Finland compete in their Volkswagen Motorsport Volkswagen Polo R WRC during Day Three of the WRC Portugal on May 24, 2015 in Porto, Portugal.  (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images) Getty Images

    After a miserable run of form, Latvala finally climbs to the top step of the podium with a narrow win over Sebastien Ogier in Portugal.

  15. Indy 500 results: Andretti P6 in tough day for team; Hildebrand leads one-offs

    May 25, 2015, 11:30 AM EDT

    MAindy500 Getty Images

    Andretti ends sixth, best of the day for the defending Indy 500-winning team, while Hildebrand leads the one-off drivers.

  16. Grosjean hopes Verstappen learns from Monaco crash

    May 25, 2015, 11:00 AM EDT

    Lotus F1 Team's French driver  Romain Grosjean  drives at the Monaco street circuit in Monte-Carlo on May 24, 2015, during the Monaco Formula One Grand Prix. AFP PHOTO / ANDREJ ISAKOVIC        (Photo credit should read ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Running inside the top ten, Grosjean’s hopes of points were dashed on Sunday in Monaco when Max Verstappen crashed into him.

  17. Bell: “A wild Indy 500 without the finish we desired”

    May 25, 2015, 10:11 AM EDT

    Photo: DRR IndyCar Photo: DRR IndyCar

    Townsend Bell’s final blog for the Indianapolis 500 touches on family, meeting Jeff Gordon, and a crazy view from the driver’s seat.