Photo: Chris Owens/INDYCAR

Mid-Ohio IndyCar Preview

By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer

LEXINGTON, Ohio — The Verizon IndyCar Series heads to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Honda Indy 200 and a closing championship battle can become even more complex at the track metaphorically owned by Scott Dixon.

Dixon leads the IndyCar series points by three over three time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, but Dixon’s biggest advantage is that he knows how to win at this track. From 2007 to 2014, Dixon won five times in eight runnings but did not finish last year thanks to a collision with Castroneves.

The rest of Team Penske follows Castroneves as Pagenaud, Newgarden and Power are all looking for another win to boost their championship hopes.

Also looking for a good run is hometown hero Graham Rahal. Originally from Columbus, Rahal won at Mid-Ohio in 2015, much to the delight of the home crowd. Rahal is tied with Will Power for fifth in points so a good result can pay dividends for points.

Not at the front of the standings but worth watching is Spencer Pigot. The Ed Carpenter Racing driver drives the road and street courses in the team’s No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet while the eponymous team owner drives that car on the ovals. Pigot did an impressive job at Toronto but a badly timed caution and contact with Takuma Sato relegated him to an 18th place finish.

Pigot has 11 previous starts at Mid-Ohio counting his Mazda Road to Indy experience and last year’s IndyCar event. Pigot has one win with only one finish below eighth at Mid-Ohio.

Pigot’s teammate at Ed Carpenter Racing is also looking for a good run at the track which saw his IndyCar debut in 2010. J.R. Hildebrand finished 16th that day and his best finish at Mid Ohio is a ninth in 2012.

Charlie Kimball is another driver looking to bounce back. With only three top ten finishes all season long, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver is looking to repeat on his 2013 success after taking an alternate strategy to the rest of the leading drivers.

For the race, its worth noting that pitting early can bring a driver through the field if a caution comes out and traps the field behind the pace car. If a driver can nail this strategy right, it can pay big dividends for the championship.

As for the track itself, the race will start on the backstretch on the auxiliary starting line and will end at the finish line in front of the pits. The green flag will fly on Sunday at 3:00 ET.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.