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. NASCAR AMERICA: Team Penske pushing for incredible season (VIDEO)

    Sep 22, 2014, 8:30 PM EDT

    Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano AP

    They’ve already got the IndyCar title. But can Team Penske claim the Sprint Cup as well this season?

  2. NASCAR AMERICA: The evolution of Joey Logano (VIDEO)

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:30 PM EDT

    Sylvania 300 Getty Images

    It hasn’t always been easy for Logano since he broke into the Sprint Cup Series in 2009. But there’s no disputing that the kid once known as “Sliced Bread” (as in, greatest thing since) has grown up.

  3. NASCAR: Penske, Roush Fenway squads test at Texas Motor Speedway

    Sep 22, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    Credit: Texas Motor Speedway Credit: Texas Motor Speedway

    Two teams on the opposite ends of the Chase spectrum head for the Lone Star State.

  4. Red Bull GRC: Ken Block, Joni Wiman now the ones to beat in title race

    Sep 22, 2014, 5:30 PM EDT

    GRCLogo

    A wild doubleheader in Los Angeles has left Block with an 18-point edge over Wiman as the series heads for Seattle.

  5. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA recaps day of survival in N.H. at 4:30 p.m. ET

    Sep 22, 2014, 4:15 PM EDT

    Sylvania 300 Getty Images

    Coming up today: Highlights and analysis from Joey Logano’s Chase win at Loudon; an interview with Penske president Tim Cindric; Kevin Harvick’s Chase progress; Denny Hamlin’s nightmarish day; 16-year-old Cole Custer’s historic Truck win.

  6. Alex Zanardi inspires once again in “Touch The Sky” clip (VIDEO)

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:55 PM EDT

    Indianapolis 500 Getty Images

    The former CART and F1 driver’s incredible story is spotlighted in a special clip that previews a new film regarding BMW’s legacy in touring car racing.

  7. Wally Dallenbach Jr. is coming back to Trans-Am

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT

    DallenbachHeadshot

    Wally Dallenbach Jr. to make competitive return to driving in Trans-Am, starting next month.

  8. McLaren principal says Red Bull used coded messages in Singapore GP

    Sep 22, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Eric Boullier indicates that he feels Red Bull breached the FIA’s new radio ban with its messages to Daniel Ricciardo during Sunday’s race.

  9. Mark Webber refreshed, relaxed in Austin return

    Sep 22, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT

    WebberCOTA Getty Images

    Mark Webber enjoys his return to Austin in FIA WEC, even if the result in his No. 20 Porsche goes begging.

  10. Team Penske has early Chase edge, but Hendrick camp can strike at Dover

    Sep 22, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT

    Chase for the sprint cup logo

    The clash of the titans has gone Team Penske’s way so far. But next weekend’s race at Dover could see the tide turn in favor of Hendrick Motorsports.

  11. Lotterer: “F1 (racing) isn’t what it used to be anymore”

    Sep 22, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    LottererCaterham Getty Images

    Andre Lotterer reflects on the openness of FIA WEC and Super Formula compared to his one-off Grand Prix appearance in Belgium.

  12. COTA weekend thoughts and observations: FIA WEC

    Sep 22, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    GDriveSMPCOTA AP

    The FIA WEC headed to Texas this weekend. Here are some thoughts on how it went down.

  13. COTA weekend thoughts and observations: IMSA

    Sep 22, 2014, 11:15 AM EDT

    IMSACota Getty Images

    Both the TUDOR Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge put on a show in Austin this weekend.

  14. FIA WEC: Another Audi win at COTA

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:21 AM EDT

    Le Mans 24h Race Getty Images

    Audi 1-2 leads FIA WEC winners at COTA.

  15. Can Hamilton take this momentum all the way to Abu Dhabi?

    Sep 22, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Reliability woes have left Nico Rosberg reeling. If he doesn’t respond at Suzuka, it could be game over.

  16. Rosberg: I felt helpless in Singapore (VIDEO)

    Sep 22, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    German driver does well to keep his anger in check in his post-race video blog.

  17. Force India owner heaps praise on Sergio Perez after Singapore fightback

    Sep 22, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT

    Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Vijay Mallya delighted as Force India makes 2014 its most successful season since entering F1 back in 2008.

  18. Singapore GP Weekend: All Posts, One Place

    Sep 22, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Singapore Getty Images

    Lewis Hamilton has put himself back in control of the 2014 F1 world championship after a great win in Singapore as teammate Nico Rosberg retired.

  19. Red Bull GRC: Rhys Millen wins Race 2 in L.A.; Ken Block takes championship lead

    Sep 21, 2014, 8:43 PM EDT

    GRCLogo

    Millen scores his second win of 2014, while YouTube icon Block takes an 18-point lead in the championship with two races left in the season.

  20. Schumacher (TF), C. Force (FC), Connolly (PS), Hines (PSM) are NHRA winners at Texas

    Sep 21, 2014, 7:51 PM EDT

    (Photo courtesy NHRA) (Photo courtesy NHRA)

    Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel), Courtney Force (Funny Car), Dave Connolly (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) were the winners in Sunday’s final rounds of the NHRA FallNationals in Ennis, Texas.

Video from NASCAR America

Which longshot will advance in Chase?
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. B. Keselowski (1717)
  2. J. Gordon (1169)
  3. K. Harvick (1092)
  4. C. Custer (1005)
  5. B. Myers (882)