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If there will is any hope of denying Scott Dixon a sixth IndyCar championship it will have to come this weekend at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Of course, Mid-Ohio is Dixon’s best track, with the Kiwi winning in Lexington for the sixth time last season when he held off teammate Felix Rosenqvist. With back-to-back races this weekend, it doesn’t inspire much confidence for anyone else to narrow the gap.
With that said, Josef Newgarden enters the weekend just 96 points out of the championship lead, which is within striking distance of the double points championship race — wherever that ends up getting held. Newgarden also has momentum on his side following his triumph in the second race at Gateway.
The two-time defending champion may need a sweep at Mid-Ohio or next month in the Gateway Grand Prix doubleheader at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for any chance to repeat.
It’s hard to expect bad luck to befall Dixon, with only one finish outside of the top-five all season, to the tune of a 3.3 average finish.
Perhaps the Chip Ganassi Racing driver is due.
Pato O’Ward has become the breakout youngster of 2020 in his debut season with Arrow McLaren SP with three podiums and third in the championship standings. He’s 119 points out and likely eliminated from championship consideration but his first win feels inevitable at one of the remaining road or street course events this autumn.
He would become the first Mexican since Adrian Fernandez to win in IndyCar should he triumph.
The race often comes down to contrasting strategies as Dixon won with two stops over Rosenqvist with three in 2019.
Dixon was giving up a lot of time on his older tires, but track position and the lapped traffic between them ultimately made the difference. Rosenqvist was able to clear the traffic by the white flag lap but couldn’t complete the pass when he attempted it in Turn 2.
Dixon won by just 0.093 of a second — not too bad for a track that hasn’t produced a caution since 2017.
At-track schedule (local/Eastern Time) and broadcast details:
Saturday, Sept. 12
10.45am – 12.00pm Practice NBC Sports Gold (live)
2.00pm – 2.30pm Qualifying (two groups) for Race 1 NBC Sports Gold (live)
4.30pm NBCSN on air
4.53pm Honda Indy 200 Race 1 NBCSN (live)
Sunday, July 12
10.15 – 10.45am Qualifying (two groups) for Race 2 NBC Sports Gold (live)
1.00pm NBC on air
1.05pm Honda Indy 200 Race 2 NBC (live)
Graham Rahal – No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda
“I’m excited to get back home. It’s going to be very physical. I think everybody expects that it’s going to be a tough weekend for all of us, but I feel good about my physical condition. I am excited to continue on down this path and get back to racing.
Clearly having a doubleheader at home is always going to be fun for me. I’m looking forward to that challenge. We have been competitive pretty much everywhere with the exception of the short ovals, where we struggled. I’m pleased with what I’ve seen on road courses. I think the guys have done an amazing job, but we’ve just got to keep our heads down and keep pushing to try to improve a little bit further.”
Rinus VeeKay – No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
“I’m really looking forward to Mid-Ohio. Of course, it’s a track where I’ve never finished off the podium in my whole Road to Indy. It’s quite a track. I love it there, and yeah, finally after a long time of ovals, we go to a road course again. Really enjoy the ovals, but yeah, I’m looking forward to turning right this weekend.
“I’ve had a very important test with Ed Carpenter Racing at Mid-Ohio, so yeah, good memories.”
The doubleheader represents the 36th and 37th time that the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will have hosted an Indy car race.
Dixon has the most wins, with six between 2007 and 2019. Emerson Fittipaldi has three wins at Lexington ahead of two-time winners Michael Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Teo Fabi, Bobby Rahal, Al Unser Jr. and Alex Zanardi.
There are six previous race winners entered into the doubleheader: Dixon, Charlie Kimball (2013), Graham Rahal (2015), Simon Pagenaud (2016), Josef Newgarden (2017) and Alexander Rossi (2018).
Chip Ganassi Racing has the most organizational wins (11) at Mid-Ohio with Dixon, Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dario Franchitti and Charlie Kimball behind the wheel. Team Penske has nine with Fittipaldi, Al Unser Jr., Helio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe, Simon Pagenaud and Josef Newgarden driving.
1 Josef Newgarden Team Penske
12 Will Power Team Penske
22 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske
4 Charlie Kimball AJ Foyt Racing
14 Dalton Kellet AJ Foyt Racing
5 Pato O’Ward ARROW McLaren SP
7 Oliver Askew (R) ARROW McLaren SP
8 Marcus Ericsson Chip Ganassi Racing
9 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing
10 Felix Rosenqvist Chip Ganassi Racing
15 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lannigan Racing
30 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lannigan Racing
18 Santino Ferrucci Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan|
55 Alex Palou (R) Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan
20 Conor Daly Ed Carpenter Racing
21 Rinus Veekay (R) Ed Carpenter Racing
26 Zach Veach Andretti Autosport
27 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport
28 Ryan Hunter Reay Andretti Autosport
88 Colton Herta Andretti Autosport
98 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport
59 Max Chilton Carlin
60 Jack Harvey Meyer Shank Racing
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