IndyCar: Mid-Ohio ‘hot and not’ list

A dramatic and frantic race at Mid-Ohio offered up plenty of candidates for our review of who impressed and embarrassed in the Buckeye State. Hot Graham Rahal – the Hollywood script is turning in to an epic as everything goes from good to great for Rahal. Strategy played its part in his win but the pace shown by the Honda driver in the closing laps was prodigious. The Rahal of old would have lost his head when he appeared to be on the wrong strategy late in the race. Instead he pushed hard, kept his head and drove the final stint with aplomb. Part 1 of the 3-part plan for the title is now complete and Rahal and his father’s team will head to the penultimate round at Pocono full of confidence. His second win of the season also continues a mini renaissance for American racers in IndyCar. Both can only be good for the series on the back of growing TV audiences. Luca Filippi – our tip for a surprise was strong in the opening segment of the race demonstrating his speed, talent and overtaking prowess. Burned by the vagaries of full course yellow’s at Mid-Ohio, his 23rd place finish is not a true reflection of the Italian’s speed. Justin Wilson – a strong 2nd place finish was just reward for a driver reminding everyone why he deserves a full-time ride. Wilson’s combative driving and round the outside over takes were fantastic to watch at a circuit labeled as impossible to pass on. Digital lights indycar It is no surprise that his arrival at Andretti Autosports has seen an upswing in their performance and the Honda package in general. Disappointing that he was not tougher on Rahal in the closing laps but it was great to see the Englishman back on the podium. Still plenty of life and talent in the old dog yet. On-car displays – a great innovation and exactly the direction the series should be taking. Highlighting push to pass and pit times in particular is a great addition that will help fans old and new. This is the kind of innovation the series should be trying more of in order to attract younger audiences. Mark Miles – he gets a lot of stick so praise where it is due. In conversation with Robin Miller pre-race he confirmed an earlier season start and later season finish in 2016. Mention of visiting some classic tracks is more than a nod to Road America which will really please the core fanbase. How early the season will start and how long it will last will determine whether he slips back on to the not list soon. Tristan Vautier – good to see Dale Coyne finally running a talented driver this season and a rewarding result for one of the smallest (and most hard-up) teams on the grid. Fingers crossed the cash can be found to run drivers of Vautier’s caliber more often. Not Race start/race re-starts – it is a tough job calling the starts/re-starts in IndyCar but today was a bit of a low point. Half the field was still in Iowa when the flag dropped at the race start and subsequent restarts were not much better. A good few drivers grumbled post-race about this issue and it will be interesting to see if regulation 9.3.8 is put to the test. With so much now at stake in an increasingly tight championship battle, starts/re-starts need to be spot on. Will Power – the opening laps at Mid-Ohio were a return to everything that can be bad about the defending champion’s driving. Impatient, erratic and generally all over the place he ruined Charlie Kimball’s race by diving back on to the track after a move gone wrong. Losing more ground in the point standings is only fitting for some pretty ropey driving. Pagenaud-3 Sage Karam – putting the controversy aside (more on that later), his late race spin was seriously embarrassing. After starting to redeem himself at Fontana and Iowa, the conclusion of Karam’s race at Mid-Ohio was definitely one for the blooper reel. With whispers growing regarding Chip Ganassi signing Josef Newgarden, Karam has two races to get himself together. Karam Simon Pagenaud – despite his second podium of the season, it is like last season never happened. From challenging for the title with Schmidt Peterson in 2014, the Frenchman has disappeared off the radar in the company of his Penske team-mates. Whether he was asked to or not, finding himself primarily driving to slow down Scott Dixon mid-race when Montoya was leading is a tough pill to swallow. Lucked out on strategy for a podium that will give him a bit of breathing room for now. The conspiracy theories – the suggestions that Sage Karam’s late-race spin was deliberate are about as ‘not’ as you can get. Taking the complexity of orchestrating such a stunt without alerting suspicion aside, you cannot imagine Chip Ganassi’s organization ever going to such lengths. The Ganassi Racing stable would rather lose a championship fair and square than win one this way. Only two races remaining this season… 😦


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One Comment Add yours

  1. Bill Rottner says:

    Let’s add to the NOTS – the total lack of passing except on restarts. When David Hobbs points out in the pre-race that you can’t pass on the track that’s a clear cue to turn off the TV. The corner workers must have been asleep or IndyCar forgot to bring the blue flags. The aero kits may account for higher speeds but they also make it impossible for cars to run within 5 car lengths of one another. This was just a high speed parade with yellow flag spacing determining the outcome. 1000 horsepower, 25% less downforce, and bigger brakes could solve this.

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