By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
A set of circumstances that probably has not happened before in Indy car racing history should not be what defines everybody’s memory of the Honda Indy 200.
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is 2.258 miles of hilly, crazy pavement with few passing opportunities. Scott Dixon’s red alternate sidewall tires began to wear off as the race concluded, allowing several cars one lap down to queue up behind the five-time (and defending) series champion.
They were all as fast, if not faster, than the 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner.
Marco Andretti, Max Chilton and Takuma Sato were ready to pounce, but ultimately couldn’t pass the most victorious Indy car driver in Mid-Ohio’s history.
Dixon’s rookie sensation teammate Felix Rosenqvist was in second place catching the four drivers ahead of him, and the Swede was furious on the radio trying to get Andretti, Chilton and Sato out of the way.
With INDYCAR awarding points throughout the field, those position battles still mattered. Had any of those lapped drivers managed to get themselves back on the lead lap, they could have gained another position if another driver had an issue on the last lap.
Exit Josef Newgarden, Turn 3, stage left.
While attempting to pass Ryan Hunter-Reay for third place on the final lap, Newgarden had contact with the 2012 NTT IndyCar Series champion, spinning off track and tumbling down the order.
Newgarden would have finished 15th had any of the trio of lapped cars un-lapped themselves, so there were also championship implications there.
But the bigger picture is that the odds of a situation like this happening is extremely remote. Having lapped cars running on pace, and in some cases, faster, than the leader near the end isn’t exactly a common scenario.
It shouldn’t detract from what we saw from Rosenqvist during his last stint of the race, as he made up 13 seconds to get to Dixon and make a race out of it.
It was also probably the best drive the 2015 European Formula 3 Champion has had all year long.
If you didn’t take Rosenqvist seriously until Sunday, you sure as hell better do so now. If Rosenqvist keeps driving like he did on Sunday, he will win a race before the 2019 Indy car season is done.
Bet on it.