On August 3rd – 5th the IZOD IndyCar Series will makes its return to the US after two rounds in Canada. The premier American open-wheel racing series will be contesting at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend in the Honda Indy 200. Sunday’s race will be the sixth IndyCar sanctioned race at the road course in Lexington, Ohio.
With just four races remaining in the 2012 season, the championship battle will begin to intensify among the top contenders of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power, and Helio Castroneves.
Will Power dominated the early part of the season by winning three of the first four races and after round four at Sao Paulo had accumulated himself a 45 point lead over team Helio Castroneves. Since then Will has yet to see victory lane and has dropped to third in points, 26 points behind leader Ryan Hunter-Reay.
The #12 Verizon Wireless Chevrolet driver for Roger Penske will be looking to get back to dominate form on the road course at Mid-Ohio this weekend and continue the hunt for his first IZOD IndyCar Championship.
Will’s teammate, Ryan Briscoe, enters the weekend vying for his second victory in the Honda Indy 200. Having won the event in 2008, Ryan is looking forward to returning to a track he’s been successful at and earn his first victory of the season.
“Mid-Ohio is an old school, fun, fast road course with a bit of elevation change, high grip circuit and it’s a track where it’s very challenging. Qualifying is very important and you’ve got to race hard from start to finish,” Briscoe tells IndyCar.com
Scott Dixon enters the weekend a favorite to win the race on Sunday. In IndyCar’s five trips to Mid-Ohio, Dixon has won three of them. The Target Chip Ganassi driver is fourth in points at the moment, 61 points out of the lead, but a victory could make him very much a contender for his third IZOD IndyCar Championship.
Graham Rahal, another Chip Ganassi driver enters the race weekend looking for great success. The Columbus, Ohio born racer has only one top-ten result in his four visits to the IndyCar event at Mid-Ohio (eighth in 2009).
On a track where his dad, Bobby, has amassed two victories in the 1980’s, Graham will try to continue to use the momentum from a fourth place finish at Edmonton two weekends ago to win at his home track.
“It feels good anytime you can build momentum at any point in the season. Particularly for us at this point, of course going to Mid-Ohio, which is my home race, a place that’s always kind of stumped me. I’ve never really had a great result there,” Rahal says when speaking to IndyCar.com.
At last year’s event, Justin Wilson hit the tire barrier in turn one during Friday practice and injured his back. His then team, Dreyer and Reinbold, assigned Simon Pagenaud as the replacement driver for the rest of the race weekend.
“Luckily enough Dreyer and Reinbold thought about me in Mid-Ohio…Qualifying, all in all, wasn’t bad at all and the race was even better. We had a pretty good weekend again, and there was no preparation at all,” Pagenaud explains about his impromptu weekend in 2011.
The Sam Schmidt driver has shown some great speed this season thus far, he lead the most laps and finished second at Long Beach earlier in the season. Returning to Mid-Ohio after a hectic weekend last year, Pagenaud is keen to get a good result as he looks to claim the Rookie of the Year Award for 2012.
Chip Ganassi Racing has won four out of the five IndyCar races held at Mid-Ohio beginning in 2007, and Penske Racing claimed the other. So, the Honda Indy 200 holds one big question, will the status quo remain the same, or will we see a new driver in victory lane at weekends end?