NTT IndyCar Series: Honda Indy 200 Preview

Graham Rahal riding the curb0 at Mid-Ohio. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

Graham Rahal riding the curb at Mid-Ohio. © [Andy Clary / Spacesuit Media]

by Paul Gohde

One of the staples of Indy car racing since 1980, the beautiful Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course welcomes the NTT IndyCar Series for the 35th time Sunday, as the series 2019 championship battle continues in the Honda Indy 200.

Mid-Ohio Race Facts: Sunday’s race will run for 90 laps/203.22 miles over the 13-turn, 2.258-mile natural road course located near Columbus, OH…The qualifying record was set by Simon Pagenaud (1:03.870/127.271 mph) in 2016…Charlie Kimball won at Mid-Ohio back in 2013 with what is still the winning race record (1:43:29.137/ 117.825 mph)…

Past Races: The 2018 event was a runaway for Alexander Rossi as he led 66 of the 90 laps in a caution-free race. Rossi stopped just twice for pit stops versus three for his competitors, winning by 12.828 seconds. Canadian rookie Robert Wickens continued his amazing season (seven top-five finishes) by finishing second, followed to the podium by Will Power…Scott Dixon has won here five times, while entered drivers Graham Rahal, Josef Newgarden, Pagenaud and Rossi have single wins…Chip Ganassi Racing leads all teams with 10 Mid-Ohio wins starting back in 1996…Johnny Rutherford won the first Indy car race here in 1980.

2019 Season so Far: Point Standings after 12 NTT Series races: 1) Newgarden /4 wins / 487 points…2) Rossi /2 wins /-29…3) Pagenaud /3 wins /-58…4) Dixon /1 win /-98…5) Will Power / 0 wins /-165…Colton Herta (14th in points) and Takuma Sato (6th), each have one win..

The Field: Twenty-three cars will line up Sunday (24 last year). RC Enerson returns to the IndyCar grid for his first series race since 2016, stepping into the Carlin # 31, while the #59 Carlin car goes back to Max Chilton…Jack Harvey returns in the Meyer Shank with Arrow Honda…and Ed Carpenter’s road course pilot Ed Jones replaces the boss.

Notes: Mid-Ohio will be the 10th road course race of the season with two more remaining (Portland and Laguna Seca)…The St. Petersburg group has signed an extension for that Florida race through 2024…TV: NBC/NBCSN, Qualifying, Saturday, NBCSN, 2:30 p.m. ET, Live…Race, Sunday, NBC, 4 p.m. ET.

Our Take: With just five series’ races remaining in the 2019 NTT championship chase, the battle seems to have settled on just the top four in points. Team Penske’s Newgarden and Pagenaud, versus Andretti Autosport’s Rossi and Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dixon. If Dixon, who makes winning at Mid-Ohio a habit, needs to close the points’ gap, now is the time. Newgarden is the best bet for Penske after winning at Iowa last week. We’ll go with Dixon at Mid-Ohio, as the win will really tighten things up among the four leaders.

Final Words: RC Enerson (No.31 Lucas Oil School Carlin Chevrolet): “It’s great to be back driving with Carlin after completing (IndyCar) Spring Training earlier this season with the team…I couldn’t be happier that it’s all coming together for Mid-Ohio. I’ve just always loved the elevation changes and all the high-speed flowing corners…The Lucas Oil School of Racing is the official school of the Road to Indy and it’s been rewarding to share my love of racing and instruct some of the future stars of IndyCar over the years. With both my experience and the team’s at Mid-Ohio, we can put together a solid result.”

Next Series Race: The ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on August 18.




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