Scott Dixon Wins at Mid-Ohio

Andretti Autosport had all of the headlines. Team Penske qualified all three cars inside the top four. Yet it was an intense battle between Chip Ganassi Racing teammates that had every fan on the edge of their seat Sunday at Mid-Ohio. While Scott Dixon was aiming for his 46th career win, Felix Rosenqvist was hot on his heels trying to capture his first. Dixon prevailed, but he had to do everything in his power to hold off the competition. The margin of victory was just 0.0934 seconds, which was the closest finish ever at Mid-Ohio, and the third closest on a road course in IndyCar history.

Despite just missing out on his first career victory, it was the first podium finish for Rosenqvist, who has really been making strides as the season has progressed. It was the first 1-2 finish for Ganassi since the 2015 race at Texas. Ryan Hunter-Reay joined them on the podium, which was a sweep for Honda. It was a much needed result for Hunter-Reay, who matched his best finish of the season after finishing 3rd at Circuit of the Americas back in March.

Honda Indy 200 Box Score

The race was caution free once again, which allowed teams and drivers to play different strategies. Whether drivers opted for two stops or three, they all had to deal with traffic. That traffic really played a factor late in the race, and an intense battle ensued in the final five laps. Dixon was struggling to hold on to his old red Firestone tires, and both Rosenqvist and Hunter-Reay were charging and ready to pounce. Felix tried to make a late move on Dixon, and the two appeared to touch. Fortunately they kept their cars out of trouble and took the top two spots.

One driver wasn’t so lucky, and it just happened to be championship leader Josef Newgarden. There were several cars that came together on the last lap, when Newgarden tried to squeeze past Hunter-Reay. They came together and Josef was left in the sand with no power. The Penske driver was just seconds away from adding to his then 29-point lead in the championship. Instead, he finished 14th and really opened the door for the title.

Will Power started the race from pole position and led 26 laps before he was under attack. Despite coming up short once again, it was a decent 4th place finish for the Aussie. Power has 4 poles and 8 Top Fives at Mid-Ohio, and a 5.2 average finish. He has led 139 laps and completed all 970 laps, but still has yet to win here. It was quite the contrast to Dixon, who just collected his sixth Mid-Ohio victory. He has more wins here than the rest of the field combined.

Alexander Rossi scored another top five finish on Sunday. The Andretti driver has 11 finishes inside the top six this year, and is now just 16 points out of the championship lead after Newgarden’s trouble on the final lap. Spencer Pigot had a great day, keeping his Ed Carpenter Racing machine clean and finishing 7th. Colton Herta had a couple of close calls on Sunday, but the talented rookie managed to grab a solid 8th place finish.

It was a rough weekend for the RLL Racing duo of Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato. After starting in the back, Sato made contact with Marcus Ericsson on the opening lap, and finished 19th. Graham managed to get things turned around during the race though, as the Ohio native gained six positions to finish in 9th place. Jack Harvey rounded out the top ten for Meyer Shank Racing, who is hopeful to announce their plans of going full-time next year before the end of this season.

Sebastien Bourdais had a rough day after starting in 5th. He got turned by Herta in Turn 2 early in the race, then was tagged with speeding on pit lane during his first pit stop. Without any cautions, the Frenchman was unable to recover and had to settle for 11th place. His Dale Coyne Racing teammate Santino Ferrucci finished just behind him in 12th. RC Enerson did a fine job in his Carlin machine, grabbing a 17th place result in his first race in more than three years.

The Arrow SPM team had arguably the worst day of all, with both cars coming together on the opening lap after getting touched by Sato. both James Hinchcliffe and Ericsson finished in the back, but will look to bounce back at Pocono. The battle for the championship will likely be decided between the top four drivers, as they are separated by just 62 points.

The NTT IndyCar Series will now take a couple of weeks off before the final four races on the 2019 calendar. The next race on the schedule is the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono on August 18. NBC Sports Network will provide coverage for the event, which begins at 2 PM ET on Sunday.

Photos courtesy of IndyCar

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Driver Quotes

SCOTT DIXON: “I think it was, honestly, with about 15 to go, I started moaning to the team. ‘I’m like, man, I think we’re going to have to pit again.’ A lot of it, I think, was just bad choices from my front. I think after the race, Chip (Ganassi, team owner) said that he had decided that we should have gone to blacks (Firestone primary tires). And I said, ‘Well, how did you and the team — how did we not go to blacks?’ But I said, ‘It looks like the reds (Firestone alternate tires) are holding on pretty well,’ but we made adjustments to the first set of sticker reds and had quite a bit of understeer. We made those changes for the used second set that already had four laps on it from qualifying and they just couldn’t take it. It was too aggressive. Luckily, I used them early to try and get past some of those (lapped) traffic cars that did help us later on, I think, at least (to) delay Felix (Rosenqvist, teammate) getting to us. But ultimately, had we gone to the black tires, we would have maintained our eight- or ten-second gap, but it definitely made it exciting for me and I’m sure everybody else. And huge respect for Felix. He drove clean, and ultimately, I don’t know, it was going to be hard for any car to come past, even though we were about three seconds slower a lap than anyone else.”

FELIX ROSENQVIST: (About if he had mixed emotions after almost winning the race): “Yes and no. I think we have to keep the perspective. Had our first podium today and also a one-two finish for Chip Ganassi Racing. Obviously tough when I think we really had the right strategy and the pace to win the race. With those five (lapped) cars in front of us it was going to be difficult, and I was really frustrated on the radio. Barry (Wanser), my strategist, tried to really keep me calm and (we) tried to pick off (the lapped cars) one by one, so I used a lot of push-to-pass to get through (Max) Chilton and Marco (Andretti) and whoever was in front of me. I think it’s a bit of a shame because maybe at times we were missing out on a good battle when you had to race cars that were fighting for P24. But anyways, that’s what it is. I really want to credit Chip (Ganassi, team owner) for letting us race. The last lap, I think everyone really enjoyed that. We were enjoying it. We were banging wheels in Turn 2 there, (it) was a bit exciting. But Scott (Dixon) is always going to fight you hard, but fair, and I think I did the same, and maybe one more lap we could have got him. But yeah, it was awesome.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “We were really pushing hard there at the end, and to see how quickly we were closing on (Scott) Dixon and (Felix) Rosenqvist I thought they were in traffic and I thought, man, this could go anybody’s way. I’m not really sure what Josef (Newgarden) was thinking there doing that. He tried to go around the outside and the line through that corner is that you do a diamond and you come back to the apex so he had to expect I was coming back at some point, and then just shoved his nose in there. I don’t know, with the championship like that, (as the points) leader, (it) totally baffled me. I’m just glad it didn’t cut down our right rear tire after fighting like that all day. We started 10th. Amazing strategy from this No. 28 DHL Honda team. Obviously, we’ve had a string of pretty poor results lately, and it’s just a matter of execution. We stumbled at Iowa. We really gambled when it went cold at night. We thought it was going to be more of an understeering race, and we put all our money down on the table and we lost it all in the first hand. That’s how sometimes this sport goes. But we were close today. We were closing in on these guys. Obviously, congrats to Ganassi. They ran a great race, good strategy, and we were closing on them, but just came up a little bit too short so if we keep knocking on the door like that we’ll win plenty. It was nice to just get back on form where we should be.”

WILL POWER: “It was a tough race, honestly. It was difficult to predict the tire strategy. The red (Firestone alternate) tires were way better when the track temps came up, and unfortunately we used them at the beginning so it just didn’t play into our strategy. It was a pretty frustrating end for Team Penske, really frustrating to see Josef (Newgarden) in the tires at the end. So, overall, not a great team day, but it was a solid finish for the Verizon Chevy. We’ll take it and move on.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI: “It was a difficult day overall for us. We didn’t seem to have the pace on either tire (Firestone alternate red and Firestone primary black tires). The team did a good job, kept me focused and we stayed with it and got a top five. We know we have to get points and, fortunately, luck was on our side today. The NAPA Andretti Honda team has done a great job all year. We’ve had pace – we’ve always been there. We just need some more race wins and, hopefully, we can get that after the two-week break. We just need to refocus and hit ’em hard at Pocono.”

SIMON PAGENAUD: “It was pretty difficult for us to keep up the pace at the end because our car started getting very loose, but overall it was a good race and I thought we got the best finish we could with the Menards Chevrolet. We committed to a three-stop strategy and we got caught behind traffic after pretty much every pit sequence, so that cost us quite a bit. It’s unfortunate because I think that strategy could’ve worked well. The good news is we picked up some points and we’re definitely still in the hunt for the championship.”

SPENCER PIGOT: “Coming home seventh is not a bad result. It was an interesting race, but it was also tough. I would have liked to have started higher up this afternoon, but to pass the cars we did and have that pace it was really encouraging. The car was great and everyone at Ed Carpenter Racing did a great job with both the strategy and the pit stops. A lot of positives to take away from this one. It was a lot of fun, pretty much 90 laps all out. We were trying to leapfrog people in the pits and pass them in the pits. It was entertaining for me. I hope it was for the fans as well.”

COLTON HERTA: “The Honda (Indy) 200 was an unfortunate race for me today. I know the No. 88 Capstone Honda car was capable of getting on the podium today, so it’s disappointing that we finished ninth. We had excellent pit stops and the boys worked so hard this weekend, but we should still feel good about a top-10 finish. Looking forward to getting back on track at Pocono Raceway in a few weeks.”

GRAHAM RAHAL: “On the start, there was contact ahead and then the seas parted so we got a few spots then. Our strategy was right, I think, but we just couldn’t hang on to the tires and got caught out in lapped traffic there in the end. The car didn’t feel great, which was frustrating. It wasn’t the result we wanted, of course, but it was a top-10 finish and we’ll take it. We creeped to within 10 points of Takuma (Sato), but lost a little ground to (Ryan) Hunter-Reay but we’ll be back on them in a couple of weeks’ time in Pocono and hopefully have a good race. The crowd was phenomenal here, absolutely phenomenal. There’s nothing like being at home. We had a pretty ugly weekend on the track, but the fans made my weekend and I want to thank them.”

JACK HARVEY: “It was a well-deserved top-10 finish. We ran between P8 and P12 all weekend, so we ended the race in that same realm. There is a bit of disappointment because we have been performing so well, so our expectations are rising. We all want to do a great job for AutoNation and SiriusXM and especially at Michael’s (Shank, team owner) home track. We know we can do better and while I was pushing hard – I made a mistake which let Graham (Rahal) get by. Overall, it was a very successful weekend for the Meyer Shank Racing crew.”

MARCO ANDRETTI: “It was a tough race. Unfortunately, qualifying didn’t go as well as we would have hoped. There were no yellows in the race, which also didn’t help. We moved up as much as we could, but the cards weren’t in our favor today to make something big happen. We need to work on qualifying the car better, especially at tracks that are so dependent on the starting position and start to get the results we need.”

MAX CHILTON: “It’s always a physical race here, especially when there aren’t any yellows at all. We had solid pace for most of the race in the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet, but we really just struggled on the scrubbed reds (Firestone alternate tires) in that third stint. It’s just so difficult to overtake at Mid-Ohio, especially without any restarts. We started out on a two-stop strategy, but ultimately switched over to a three stop. We were able to make it work, but we just couldn’t get around the cars in front of us. We definitely had a quicker car than our results showed, but that’s just how it worked out for us, unfortunately.”

RC ENERSON: “It was a pretty good race for us. I think we finished P17, so not too bad. We struggled a little bit at the start to find pace and we weren’t 100 percent sure what we wanted to do on strategy, but once we got out into clean air we started to pick up some pace in the No. 31 Lucas Oil School Carlin Chevrolet. We were able to make up some spots and pick off some of the stragglers who didn’t quite have the pace, moving us up about five spots from where we started. I’d say it was a pretty good weekend and it felt really good to be back in the car and get comfortable again.”

MARCUS ERICSSON: “Obviously, a short and disappointing afternoon for us ending our day pretty much in the first corner of the race. I was side-by-side with (teammate) James (Hinchcliffe) when I got hit really hard by (Takuma) Sato, and that made me bounce into James and obviously damaged both of our cars. That ended our day from there. Very disappointing, especially since we had a good qualifying yesterday and a good warmup session where we knew we had a really strong race car. I think we could have had a good race, but it was not our day. Really just disappointed for the whole Arrow SPM team, but we will bounce back.”

SANTINO FERRUCCI: “The race started well, but I got caught up in an incident in front of me. I couldn’t stop in time and I just drove right into the back of (Graham) Rahal’s car. Unfortunately, we lost a lot of spots because of that and we broke the front wing. The car was still driveable despite the damage, but driving 90 laps around this track with a broken front wing was a challenge. At the end of the day, I think we raced really well to come back to 12th. The team did a great job and our pit stops were really good. Now I can look forward to my home race (at Pocono Raceway) in a few weeks.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: “We got hit on Lap 1, which put us two laps down with a bent car. Obviously, not ideal with no yellows. We didn’t get a chance to get our laps back, which is unfortunate because we had fastest lap of the race, so the No. 5 Arrow car was quick but didn’t get a chance to show it today.”

ED JONES: “On the start, I tried to optimize as much as I could to make up as many positions as possible. I think we did a good job with that. We executed everything well; there were no mistakes on track; I never got passed on track and the guys did a good job in the pits. Ultimately, we just weren’t quite quick enough today. We’ll make some improvements to get better pace for Portland, then we’ll be up there.”

TONY KANAAN: “I honestly don’t have much to say. Starting all the way back, we had to gamble on some strategy moves. Without a yellow during the race there was no gain on what we planned, so we raced by ourselves the whole time.”

MATHEUS LEIST: “It was a very difficult race here at Mid-Ohio and disappointing considering we had a good pace in the practices. The pace was not good, the tire degradation was not good, so I think it was a combination of factors that didn’t allow us to move forward up the grid.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: “I just forced the issue. I was trying to get on the podium there. I got into the side of (Ryan Hunter-Reay), looped it around and lost power. It was my fault trying to force the issue. I wish I could’ve kept the engine running. That was the big thing. We had a great car today with PPG on board. Chevy did a wonderful job. I wish we could’ve done more there at the end. It just wasn’t meant to be.”

TAKUMA SATO: “The start was a difficult situation to predict. There was an accordion effect with cars, and when I saw it I had a good, clear gap in front of me. Looking at the replay, Hinch (James Hinchcliffe) had to slow down because he ran wide and it looks like Marcus (Ericsson) just cut inside and that angle was difficult for me to avoid and unfortunately we touched together, which gave me a left front (tire) puncture. And then, I got wide for the very next corner and picked stones up in the next corner, and then we came back to the pit to change the tire. And our pace was actually faster than the leader so that was very encouraging but unfortunately, the fuel rig was damaged by stones so every time we tried to fuel we only got about 90 percent of the fuel. We tried to make it a two-stop race, but obviously the fuel wasn’t full each time so we couldn’t make it. We were hoping for a yellow, but we had to make a late stop for a splash of fuel. It was a tough race.”

ZACH VEACH: “Overall, the most difficult day I have ever had. We didn’t start the race with something we were super confident in and as soon as we put on the blacks (Firestone primary tires), we were really just struggling for pace overall. It was a tough day to swallow. We now have to focus on Pocono, which is next, and try to turn things around. This year we keep struggling to find something that allows us to go quick like we had last year – it’s just a feel thing.”

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