image The Honda Indy 200 gets underway Scott Dixon claims his first win of the 2011 IndyCar Season

Managing his strategy to perfection, Scott Dixon climbed to the top step of the podium for the first time in 2011 with a commanding victory at Mid-Ohio.

Following him home in second place was team-mate Dario Franchitti, who was also able to judge his pit stops well to maximise track position and ensure a straight fight was had among the Ganassi boys at the front.

For Will Power though, Lady Luck was never with him during the race, as twice he failed to pit prior to separate full course caution periods and was therefore forced to do so during the caution period itself, sacrificing valuable track position on both occasions. The second of these occurrences was especially painful, as the majority of the field had already pitted and was bunched up with Power as the pit lane opened for serviced. While the Penske crew furiously worked on the tyres and fuel, Power could do nothing but sit and watch virtually the entire field casually motor past.

From the green flag, Dixon and Ryan Briscoe led away, while Power was passed by Franchitti. Further back, Alex Tagliani ran over a bump and veered left toward James Hinchcliffe, forcing the Newman Haas driver to take evasive action over the grass, re-joining in last place.

The pace car made its first appearance of the afternoon on Lap 22 when Sebastian Saavedra ran off at Turn 2, making contact with the tyre wall and ending his afternoon prematurely.

As can be the case when a reworked strategy plays into ones hands, James Hinchcliffe, who has pitted early in the race following his first corner off, didn’t need to pit with the rest of the field at the first caution period, and was granted a free pass to the front of the field. At the restart, Hinchcliffe was running well in the lead, holding his own for over 25 laps in front of Scott Dixon before his new pit strategy forced his hand.

It was at this point that the race was effectively won by Dixon. Following Hinchcliffe’s dive for the pit lane, Dixon made the most of the clean air available to him, setting the fastest lap and subsequently making his pit stop and re-joining well ahead of Hinchcliffe as he was coming through. While Franchitti, Power and Briscoe were following close behind, it was the next caution period which put paid to the chances of the latter two. On Lap 57, Danica Patrick and Graham Rahal both found the gravel at Turn 2 courtesy of a spat over the same piece of tarmac.

At what proved to be the final restart on Lap 60, Dixon saw no reason to wait or to tease the rest of the field, and simply powered into the distance to win by over 8-seconds from Franchitti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato and Tony Kanaan. Will Power eventually finished 14th, widening the gap to Dario Franchitti in the championship chase to 62 points.

One week is all that separates us from the next race, at the returning New Hampshire Speedway. How the teams will handle the short turnaround from road course to oval shall soon be revealed as the next chapter of the 2011 season is written.



2011 Honda Indy 200 Mid-Ohio Final Classification (85 laps):

Driver Team Laps Result
1. Scott Dixon NZL Target Chip Ganassi Racing 85 1:48:46.9509
2. Dario Franchitti GBR Target Chip Ganassi Racing 85 + 7.6508
3. Ryan Hunter-Reay USA Andretti Autosport 85 + 9.0784
4. Takuma Sato JPN KV Racing Technology Lotus 85 + 12.3062
5. Tony Kanaan BRZ KV Racing Technology Lotus 85 + 19.9748
6. Alex Tagliani CDN Sam Schmidt Motorsports 85 + 20.6267
7. Marco Andretti USA Andretti Autosport 85 + 20.9094
8. Oriol Servià ESP Newman/Haas Racing 85 + 23.0252
9. Sébastien Bourdais FRA Dale Coyne Racing 85 + 23.6411
10. Vitor Meira BRZ AJ Foyt Enterprises 85 + 26.2582
11. Charlie Kimball USA Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi 85 + 27.4550
12. Simona de Silvestro SUI HVM Racing 85 + 29.0438
13. Simon Pagenaud FRA Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 85 + 29.7880
14. Will Power AUS Team Penske 85 + 42.5675
15. EJ Viso VEN KV Racing Technology Lotus 85 + 45.3255
16. Ryan Briscoe AUS Team Penske 85 + 45.7141
17. Ana Beatriz BRZ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing 85 + 47.0943
18. Martin Plowman GBR Sam Schmidt / AFS Racing 85 + 48.3700
19. Hélio Castroneves BRZ Team Penske 85 + 48.8679
20. James Hinchcliffe CDN Newman/Haas Racing 85 + 49.4093
21. Danica Patrick USA Andretti Autosport 85 + 59.9851
22. Ed Carpenter USA Sarah Fisher Racing 85 + 1:09.2913
23. James Jakes GBR Dale Coyne Racing 85 + 1:09.5303
24. Graham Rahal USA Service Central Chip Ganassi 83 2 laps behind
25. JR Hildebrand USA Panther Racing 81 4 laps behind
DNF. Mike Conway GBR Andretti Autosport 63 Mechanical
DNF. Sebastian Saavedra COL Conquest Racing 20 Accident

[Images and video via IZOD IndyCar Series]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.