After three weeks off, the IZOD IndyCar Series returns to action in the quiet rolling hills of Lexington Park, Mid-Ohio for Race 14 out of 19 in the 2013 season.
In an omen that everyone outside of the Target Chip Ganassi camp will not want to hear, many within the IndyCar paddock refer to Mid-Ohio as “Scott Dixon’s Playground”.
Coming off three consecutive wins at Pocono and twice at Toronto, the last thing Dixon needs is any more momentum as he powers his way up the championship standings. He has cleaned up at this course four times in the last six runnings and needs no further guidance around the 3.6km course.
Speaking of which, Ryan Hunter-Reay had somewhat faded from view in the race for the IndyCar Series Championship Cup after three poor finishing positions no higher than 18th really dented his run – all as a result of sticky situations he really can’t be blamed for. But a champion is capable of turning things around and there are still plenty of points for which to play.
Incredible consistency this year sees Helio Castroneves remaining in the lead of the points race approaching the business end of the season – a lead he holds by 29 points. Based on Dixon’s most recent performances, however, the Brazilian veteran knows he cannot take his eye off the prize or Ganassi’s man will pounce.
Another man requiring only a victory to throw himself right into the title mix is Marco Andretti. The youngest competitor from the American racing dynasty sits a solitary point behind his championship- winning team-mate Hunter-Reay and has shown incredible maturity and focus this year – a trait that has lacked somewhat in prior years. As a result, Marco’s races have been extremely competitive, with a number of pole positions and strong finishes. Only a fool would count him out just yet.
Mid-Ohio has been a staple on the Indycar calendar since 1980 and is a popular part of the season with fans. The elevations offered by the course however do make car setup a challenge, with ride height crucial in order to manage the elevation changes, which through the slower corners towards the end of the lap can be quite undulating.
Lots of run-off area allows for recovery from any small off-track excursions in the slower regions, but as Justin Wilson will attest, punishes any overzealousness if leaving the track on the fast corners (Wilson suffered a season-ending back injury after going over some off-course bumps at high speed in 2011 while trying to return to the course). The long straight at the back of the circuit invites overtaking moves into the following right-hander, which is by far the number one place for changes in the order to occur.
Races here never disappoint, so tune in this weekend for another top-quality championship instalment.