Notoriously tight pit boxes brought about the downfall of Will Power in Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, which, along with speedy service from the Target Chip Ganassi crew, released Scott Dixon ahead of the former championship leader and into a lead he never relinquished to claim victory.
Prior to the race, Dixon trailed championship leader Ryan Hunter-Reay by a sizeable 61 points. The win however, catapulted the Kiwi right back into contention, only 2 points behind Hélio Castroneves and 28 behind Will Power, who re-assumed the title race lead with three events remaining.
That was, until the final corner of the opening lap when Justin Wilson combined too much kerb with a tap from behind to find himself facing the wrong way, at the back of the field.
Somewhat of a surprise was the speed of the only Lotus runner in the field, Simona De Silvestro. Such is the beauty of the Mid-Ohio circuit where horsepower (or lack thereof) can take a back seat to car handling, of which the HVM Racing entry had in spades on this occasion. Showing her first sign of anything even remotely competitive this season, the ‘Swiss Miss’ was fighting her way through the field with the expert precision and aggression De Silvestro has always been capable of. Despite yet another poor finish, De Silvestro showed she wasn’t quite ready to be consigned to history as a perennial backmarker just yet.
A number of regular front runners were having difficulty with car balance, including Hélio Castroneves, James Hinchcliffe and Tony Kanaan, who all pitted early and off-sequence, hoping for a late caution to help them climb back through the field. Unfortunately, for the second race in succession, the first time since 1987 this had happened, the green flag remained in effect from start to finish, which in turn ruined the trio’s races.
|The field’s two French drivers – despite going almost unnoticed – drove brilliant races at Mid-Ohio. IndyCar rookie Simon Pagenaud finished on the podium, chased hard in the final stages of the race by Sébastien Bourdais, who finished an excellent fourth for Dragon Racing.|
Putting together yet another positive showing was Simon Pagenaud, who continues to knock on the door of victory for Schmidt/Hamilton Racing. Pagenaud remained in contention all day, completing the podium with a third place finish, but keeping Will Power ahead honest late in the race as he pushed for second place.
Championship leader Ryan Hunter-Reay had another day to forget, with the Andretti machine losing engine power midway through the race which required an engine reset. The problem got worse as the race wore on, pushing Hunter-Reay down the order, with Andretti Autosports eventually retiring the car with a few laps to go.
But it was Scott Dixon who put everything together in the right order on the day, taking his third victory at Mid-Ohio and cementing his intentions to chase the title all the way to the final lap of the final race.
So with three races left for the season, each on different circuit types, with Sonoma a permanent road course, Baltimore a temporary street circuit and Fontana a high-speed oval, again it will be down to the most versatile driver who will emerge victorious and claim the IndyCar Drivers’ Title.
2012 IndyCars Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio – Final Classification (85 laps):