Seeing Indycar take to the sweeping, undulating road course of Mid-Ohio is truly a sight to be hold. And this year, with the added excitement of new aerokits and a championship still up for grabs, the race promises to be as exciting as always.
Mid Ohio is a 2.4 sports car course in the middle of nowhere Ohio, aka Lexington. But don't let its out of the way location fool you, Mid Ohio is one of the racing gems of America.
The 13 turn road course has intermiddently been on the Indcyar schedule since 1980 and has always been a drivers favorite with such challenging sections as 'China Beach' (turns 4-6) and 'The Keyhole' keeping drivers honest through the years.
The circuit is, in large and part, a power course, with sections like Thunder Valley (the blast through the kink at turn 10) and the main straight being taken at full throttle. Even the more undulating portions of the track seem fast and drivers continue to push the limits through the esses and the carousel.
All in all, Mid Ohio is a driver's course. It is a challenge, but it's flowing nature often rewards drivers who are able to get into the groove of the circuit.
The main overtaking opportunity is after the long front stretch and into turn 4, although more outwardly defensive drivers have been able to hold the line through the 4, 5, 6 complex and come out still in front. But The Keyhole (turn 2) can also provide good room to overtake, as can The Carousel (turn 12).
Mid Ohio is a track that always produces good, exciting racing, and this year should be no different.
Mid Ohio is truly Scott Dixon's stomping grounds. Having racked up the most wins in history at the circuit (5), and given his current form, there is little doubt that Dixon could very well be on for yet another victory in Lexington.
His Honda engine may provide a bit of a downfall for him, however, as the long, power hunger nature of Mid Ohio should favor his Chevrolet counterparts. Constructed around the same time, Mid Ohio and Road America are very similar tracks in terms of power output, and, despite a strong showing, Dixon wasn't able to claim top podium in Elkhart Lake.
Toronto was a disaster for Newgarden. After controlling the early part of the race and being ready to take chunk out of Scott Dixon's points lead, Newgarden ended up in the wall in one of the most bizarre incidents in recent Indycar memory.
Mid Ohio could prove Newgarden's chance to bounce back, thanks to his Chevy engine power advantage. Thus far this season Newgarden has taken victory at the two 'true' road courses Indycar has run (Barber and Road America. The Indy GP is a different animal all together). And he very well may be able to take back his claim in Mid Ohio. Watch for him to do extremely well.
Surprised to see the 2016 Indycar Series Champion on the list of potential race winners? So a I. Pagenaud has had a disastrous season, managing only two podiums and being all together out of the title hunt. But hope is not lost for the Frenchman.
Coming off of a strong performance in Toronto, one where we saw the Pagenaud of old, holding the line against Wickens in a thrilling multi corner duel, Pagenaud may be able to bounce back. He won at Mid Ohio back in 2016, on the way to his Indycar title, desperately needs to back up his place at Team Penske with some solid results. That kind of pressure makes some men fold, but for Pagenaud, it just might bring out his best.
The Canadian rookie should have been ecstatic to end up on the podium at his home race, but like the true competitor that he his, he wanted more. Mid Ohio, while nearly nothing like the circuits Wickens raced in DTM, should pose no threat to the SPM driver, who has shown race in and race out that he can tame any track before him.
He has said to reporters this week that he is tired of playing the nice guy and is ready to race more aggressively. Well, Mid Ohio is certainly the place to put out the elbows. And perhaps putting them out may finally get the Canadian the win he so clearly deserves.
The Rest of the Field
Despite being a former race winner and a hometown hero, Graham Rahal doesn't seem to factor in the conversation for potential winners as both he and his RLL teammate, Takuma Sato have struggled to find pace as of late. Combined with Honda's shortcomings more than likely being exposed at Mid Ohio, Sunday will not be Rahal's day.
Alexander Rossi has been a breath of fresh air to some this season, and to others he has been the find of 'mean guy' that the sport hasn't seen since the days of Paul Tracy. Any way you cut it, Rossi has been impressive, but his form has suffered since his podium in Texas. Although much of the lack in form in no fault of his own and instead his team's apparent desire to sabotage him.
Ryan Hunter Reay sits 4th in points right now, but has cooled significantly since rattling off results after his win in Detroit. He is one that can always challenge for a win on any given day, but his Mid Ohio has never been a favorite of his, his best result a 3rd coming in 2011.