Alexander Rossi moved one point closer to Scott Dixon in the championship yesterday by earning pole position for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. Today, he made a massive gain on the points leader with a dominating race win. Rossi captured his second win of the season, and moved into 2nd place in the standings, now 46 points behind Dixon with four races remaining. Rossi led 66 laps and was the only driver the complete the race on just two pit stops.
Robert Wickens finished in 2nd place today, earning his fourth straight Top 5 finish this season, and his fourth IndyCar podium result. Will Power joined them on the podium, which should come as no surprise at all. After starting on the front row for the 7th time at Mid-Ohio, Power added yet another podium finish to go along with his four runner-up finishes. Still, Power has yet to win on the road course in Lexington, Ohio.
Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Box Score
Rounding out the top five on Sunday were the top two drivers in the championship heading into the race. Josef Newgarden managed to finish ahead of Dixon, but only gained two points on the Ganassi driver. Dixon, who was aiming for his 6th win at Mid-Ohio, made his 300th career IndyCar start. He is just the 9th driver to accomplish that milestone.
Sebastien Bourdais had the drive of the day, finishing 6th after starting in last (24th) place. There were a series of incredible passes and daring moves by the Frenchman, as he was on a mission from the start. Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud finished 7th and 8th on Sunday, and were wheel-to-wheel several times throughout the race. There were a couple of close calls between the two series champions, but they were able to talk it out after the race ended.
Graham Rahal was hoping for his fifth straight Top 5 finish at his home track, but it wasn’t in the cards this time around. The RLL Racing driver had a quiet day, but still managed a Top 10 finish. Ohio native Zach Veach rounded out the top ten on Sunday, giving Andretti Autosport three drivers inside the Top 10, including the race win. Veach is one of just six full-time drivers (Dixon, Rossi, Newgarden, Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe) that do not have a DNF this season.
Marco nearly scored another Top 10 finish today, but had to settle for 11th. The Ed Carpenter Racing duo of Jordan King and Spencer Pigot were 12th and 13th respectively. Hinchcliffe was quiet all afternoon, and collected a 14th place result. It was another caution-free race at Mid-Ohio, which made it difficult for drivers in the rear of the field to keep pace.
Just four races remain on the 2018 calendar. Teams and drivers will have a couple of weeks off before the next round of action, which is another 500-mile race. The ABC Supply 500 at Pocono is set for August 19, with coverage beginning at 1:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network. Power, the reigning Indy 500 champion, has won the last two races at Pocono.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar
Josef Newgarden: “We just seemed to catch traffic and I don’t think our strategy worked quite as well as we wanted it to, but you make a plan and go with it. It didn’t quite all work today for us. But it was a very good effort from everybody today. I think the Hitachi Chevrolet was good today. We gave a good shot at it today. We will go back and analyze it and go on from here.”
Matheus Leist: “Today was a tough day. We just didn’t have the pace the entire race. We just tried to bring home the car and I did the best that I could. We are still struggling to find the speed on road courses. We will focus on figuring this out for next year and for the rest of the season. We will keep working hard and figuring out how to be quick.”
James Hinchcliffe: “It was a pretty disappointing day for us. We had to roll the dice on strategy a little bit given where we were starting. Unfortunately, it just didn’t play out for us. We had a rough day in pit lane which didn’t help; it lost us some track position that cost us a ton of time behind (Zach) Veach in the second stint. From then on, we were just doing damage control. It’s unfortunate. We had to take a bit of a risk starting 10th and today just didn’t play out. The Arrow Electronics crew will regroup, pull a tear-off on this one and go for it in Pocono.”
Robert Wickens: “We stuck to our guns and I thought our strategy worked well. The problem is, on my third stint, I just got stuck in a whole gaggle of cars. Unfortunately, they were on reds (Firestone alternate tires) and I was on blacks (Firestone primary tires), and I couldn’t make it through and just lost loads of time. I was probably losing about a second a lap for a good 10-15 laps. It’s unfortunate. Nevertheless, the Lucas Oil car went from P5 to P2, I can’t complain.”
Scott Dixon: “Basically, a frustrating day. I think the car had some good speed. We were really quick early on in a stint, we kind of faded a little bit. The track condition was just not great. We would pit and one of the cars in front of us, or right around us, would pit, too, and we’d fall behind them and it just kind of put us back. It was one of those days where one little, tiny move could have jumped us another two or three spots.”
Ed Jones: “A frustrating day. I think we had the pace and we should have been around seventh or eighth. We called the wrong strategy and got on the wrong tires. Unfortunately, everything we did made the race worse for us. We also had a (tire) puncture to add to that. Just seems like recently everything has gone against us and everything we try to do. It makes everything look a lot worse than it is. Surely, things will change around and we will come back stronger.”
Will Power: (About if he had anything else for the leaders): “No, man, everyone else is so good in this series that you just have to have everything perfect. We just weren’t quite good enough on blacks (Firestone primary tires). We really struggled to get up to speed on those, but were pretty good on reds (Firestone alternate tires). But still a good day for the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet. Obviously, another full green race and I can’t believe it. It’s just a series full of really good drivers now, and no one makes mistakes and it just came down to strategy.”
Tony Kanaan: “Tough weekend for the No. 14 ABC Supply car. No matter what we changed, we couldn’t get a good direction on our setup, so it ended up being a survival race. We’re going to regroup this week and analyze what we’re missing in order to make it better. Looking forward to going to Pocono in a couple of weeks and putting on a good show for our sponsors.”
Graham Rahal: “I’m disappointed. We just weren’t good enough today. The pace just wasn’t there in the car and the rear was so unstable. We struggled with too much oversteer most of the race, which put us a ways behind the 8-ball. I just couldn’t get close enough to anybody without losing a lot. We had to just manage the rest of the day. I was hoping for a better result for the Fifth Third Bank team.”
Sebastien Bourdais: “Today was making up for a big mess up yesterday. It’s sad, as this car could have been a winner today with our pace. It was a heck of drive and I don’t think it gets much better than that going from 24th to 6th in a straight-up fight on a track that’s difficult to pass. Obviously, it was a lot of ‘what ifs’ that come to mind. Really happy with the day, but quite disappointed for the group as far as the weekend is concerned, as I think we could have been on the podium.”
Pietro Fittipaldi: “Obviously I feel tired. It’s my first race back and it’s a tough one at Mid-Ohio. It’s really physically demanding here. We started the race and we didn’t have that much pace at first in our No. 19 Paysafe car, so we ended up pitting early, and then I had to let the leaders go by, so we lost a lot of time there. That said, I finished the race and that was my goal with my leg still hurting a bit. It’s still healing. I’m sure that by the time we get to our next road course in Portland, we’ll be a lot better and I’ll be back at a 100 percent, but I’m happy I was able to come here and finish the race. Now we can focus on our upcoming tests and our next race.”
Jordan King: “I sent it on the first couple of corners. That was really good fun, a bit of wheel-banging and running side-by-side with a few people. We got up to ninth in those first two laps. Our pace was pretty good during the race. I don’t think we were a million miles off at all. We had a bit of a slow first pit stop and lost a few places there, then we just seemed to struggle a bit on out laps. Those are the two areas where we lost the time; otherwise, I think we would have been a bit higher up. We still have a bit of work that we need to do, but overall, it was a good race.”
Spencer Pigot: “It was a bit of a tough start of the race. We didn’t get a great start and got kind of boxed in. We weren’t able to move up early on like we had hoped for. We struggled with the black (Firestone primary) tires, but once we put the reds (Firestone alternate tires) on again, the car was pretty good. We were able to make passes and fight our way up to 13th. The second half of the race wasn’t too bad, but we would have liked to have a different first half. We’ve had a very solid last five or six weekends and a lot of positives to take away. We will work to put it to good use for the last races.”
Simon Pagenaud: “Without a warmup this morning, it was going to be a bit of a guessing game as far as race setup. Luckily, the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet team guessed right. I could really be myself and attack during this race. We’ve just got to keep working in that direction. I think we were able to make huge gains in our street circuit package in Toronto. The whole team is super-fast on ovals and the last bit is getting where we need to be on these road courses. Today was very satisfying to prove that our showing during qualifying is not the true performance of the No. 22 Menards team.”
Charlie Kimball: “I think it was a tough day for everybody out there. The track conditions meant that it was going to be pretty slippery and the cars were going to be quite a handful. We really struggled in that first stint and I just wasn’t able to get the lap time out of the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet. The guys did a great job in pit lane and we flipped up the strategy on the last stint when we went with the Firestone alternate tires, which helped us out a lot. We’ll go back to the drawing board and evaluate what we did here, and hopefully, be able to learn from it.”
Zach Veach: “I’m slightly happy to bring home another top-10 finish. The last half of the season, we wanted to be consistently in the top 10 and I want to prove that I belong here. I think we’re doing more and more of that every weekend. With no yellow (flags) today, I think we needed to qualify a little bit better to be able to race towards the front. But I’m just so happy that our Relay car had the speed, but we just got caught in some traffic. It’s just hard racing out there, especially on the blacks (Firestone primary tires). We were falling back, so we were fighting with everything we could with those guys on the red (Firestone alternate) tires, but I think, overall, it was a pretty good day for us. We learned a ton and I’m excited to go on to Pocono, and hopefully, we finish a few spots higher.”
Alexander Rossi: “We said coming into this weekend that we have to execute for five weekends in a row, this is the start of that, hopefully. The NAPA Andretti team were so on it today. They gave me an amazing race car and this one’s for them. It was great strategy all day. We could make a two-stop if we committed early and that’s what we did. Great fuel mileage from Honda, great tire life from Firestone, so an all-around perfect day.”
Ryan Hunter-Reay: “It wasn’t our day; it was kind of a mess. I felt like I was running around on crutches out there. We started out on the first set of sticker reds (new Firestone alternate tires) and had a left-front (tire) that was falling apart. I had a huge vibration, so we had to pit early. There was no way around it and that committed us to the strategy. Unfortunately, pitting early like that, then you just put yourself at risk for everybody to overcut you, continuing to run and we just got out of everybody’s way that way, unfortunately. I was just doing whatever I could to hold the floodgates back there at the end. I was on primary (Firestone) black tires racing everybody on sticky, alternate reds. I was doing whatever I could to keep it from coming around at the end. We definitely needed today to go better. It’s unfortunate it went this way today for the DHL, AutoNation and Butterball turkey team. It’s a bummer. We started third and we thought we had a better shot at it today, but congrats to the No. 27 team and to Alex (Rossi). He had a good run doing the ol’ two-stopper and it worked out. Everybody said that if it went green all day today, two stops wasn’t going to work, but he showed them.”
Takuma Sato: “It’s extremely disappointing not to be able to compete competitively. The start was good. I overtook a couple of cars and was P6, and there were only a few cars in front and it all looked good, but on the second lap in Turn 4, I know (Max) Chilton was on push-to-pass and was coming, so I left one car space into Turn 4 and it was all good. On the exit of Turn 4, somehow he clipped me from behind and I got spun from that. After that I never recovered in the race. Unfortunately, in the middle of the stint the pace wasn’t very good, so it was difficult to gain any positions back. I think I dropped to 21st and only gained a few positions in the end, so it is very disappointing. We had high hopes today, but that was the race.”
Rene Binder: “It was a tough race and it was a really long one. We had a decent race and a good start at the beginning. Our strategy was working well with the Firestone red tires and we were able to make up some positions. Even though we did not finish where we hoped to, I am pleased overall and this has been a great experience running in the Verizon IndyCar Series.”
Max Chilton: “That was just a really disappointing way to end this weekend at Mid-Ohio after hitting such a high note yesterday with our Firestone Fast Six qualifying effort. We had a good start at green flag, but it turned for us pretty quickly after Race Control gave us a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact with (Takuma) Sato. We were hoping with how quick the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet was that we would be able to recover and fight back through the field, but with no yellows (flags) and some issues in pit lane, we just couldn’t move forward at all.”
Jack Harvey: “We had a high-risk, high-reward type of strategy. The race summed up our weekend, in that at sometimes we were OK, but then others we were struggling a lot. Our day was a combination of not being quick and not getting the yellows (flags) we needed. The team has been working hard and I think that only doing a few races this year is a challenge, but we are making the best of it and I know we will make progress during Portland.”
Conor Daly: “I think we had a reasonable pace all race long. We put in a little too much wing on the first stop, so the second stint was really tough because the car was really loose. After that, we started making up some good ground on track and the car was pretty quick. The (Max) Chilton machine really messed with us when he was already a couple laps down. I’m sort of unsure as to why that was acceptable, but it is what it is. It’s a shame what happened by running out of fuel, but these things happen. Racing is a wild sport. The guys did really good in the pits, the pit stops were great and the No. 88 Chevy was great. Now we just move on.”
Marco Andretti: “I’m a bit bummed for the Ruoff Home Mortgage team. We had (Sebastien) Bourdais beat, and then I’m not sure what happened, but he was able to gap us there on the second stint. We only had clear track on the second stint and we were flying, so we were one of the fastest cars out there, but the circumstances just didn’t work out.”