After an initial visit in 1980, the IndyCars, or CART / Champ Car to be more specific, made the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course a regular home each year from 1983 until the demise of the CART series at the end of 2003. Fantastic crowds are a regular occurrence in the mid-northern state of Ohio and another big crowd is expected to descend on the circuit again for the IndyCar Series fourth annual event at Mid-Ohio this weekend. Our IndyCar correspondent Matt Lennon takes a look at the form guide heading into this weekend’s event…
History can be made for the second consecutive year at Mid-Ohio. Last year, Scott Dixon became the most successful driver in IndyCar Series history (in number of race victories) with his twentieth career victory. This year, the man with the bullseye firmly on his chest is Will Power. It would take a near miracle for Power not to clinch the inaugural Mario Andretti road-course championship this weekend, as he is 96 points clear of Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Another debut will take place at Mid-Ohio in 2010. Last year’s runaway Firestone Indy Lights series champion J.R. Hildebrand makes his debut, deputising for Mike Conway at Dreyer & Reinbold.
Conquest Racing has also signed up Italian Francesco Dracone for the next two rounds, with the Italian having previously competed in his native F3 series and, lately, the European F3000 championship.
Extra pit lane space is also being made for Jay Howard, racing for Sarah Fisher, Graham Rahal, racing for Newman Haas, and Adam Carroll, racing for Andretti Autosports. Along with Alex Lloyd and Raphael Matos in their respective teams, this will be the first time the last four Indy Lights champions (Howard in ’06, Lloyd in ’07, Matos in ’08 and Hildebrand in ’09) have all participated in the same race.
Turning to the overall series championship, no matter what happens, Will Power will leave Mid-Ohio with the championship lead, with a 50 point lead over Dario Franchitti and no way the popular Scotsman can wrest the lead away from Power at this event. Having said that, Power needs to maintain his consistency, as the championship is still by no means decided.
One man with a chip on his shoulder will be Helio Castroneves. Fresh from the controversial finish to the last race in Edmonton that saw Castroneves stripped of the race victory, fined $60,000 for his post-race antics and put on probation for the rest of the season, he will no doubt be chomping at the bit to put in a convincing performance this time out. Expect a strong – and one hopes, disciplined – result from him.
[Original images via LAT]