Although missing by a mile with some of our Mid-Ohio predictions IRR did accurately and unfortunately foresee the results of race winner and in runaway fashion. Foresight as they say is a terrible burden. Haven’t we all seen this race before? about five times now?
The results led to bummed feelings as it was a predictably boring race due to an inferior race course (Down with Mid-Ohio) but also less than bummed feelings as Dixon’s dominance at least partially vindicated our shaky prognostication abilities (and practically everyone else’s). It feels like coming in 5th in a lights race.
Before the green flag on this beauty at the camp grounds even flew, trouble struck Helio who pitted with a stuck throttle. His early troubles added a drop of drama to a race that needs an ocean and cost Helio mightily – 4 laps and the championship lead. He took it in characteristic style, exclaiming “Man that sucked!” before flashing his famous smile in post race.
The beginning of the race was more interesting than all last year’s strung-out strategy-showcase with a first turn, first lap melee begun by NewKid and TK banging together. TK spun doing a 180 and Marco plowed directly into him. Unfazed, NewGarden sped away as others including Hinch ran wide or off course to avoid them. Sato was caught up in the carnage and continued, becoming even more of a non-factor than usual. More importantly the Marco mash-up knocked the third place starter and funny man Kanaan out of the race, eliminating a top contender though saving viewers a headache from his unusually ugly paint scheme.
Quickly enough the field strung out and it became the sort of race we hate about Mid-Ohio. What kind of track starts and restarts on the backstretch, anyway? Surprisingly like a celebrity stumbling into the wrong party some actual racing briefly appeared as Briscoe and Pags battled fiercely in mid-pack. Hunter-Reay had an eventful but disappointing day moving up from 5th, then spinning off course and stalling after incurring a penalty for speeding on pit lane. He finished 10th and let an opportunity to gain large in the points against the Penskes slip away as Mad King Power finished where he started in 6th.
NewKid started and ran second for much of the first half, eventually taking the lead from the pole sitting Frenchman Bourdais before being called to pit lane for service. Upon entry to his box the #67 car ran over an air hose carelessly left lying in its path by the crew. The right rear changer whose hose got caught on the car was dragged violently to the ground.
The crewman’s mistake and resulting disastrous pit stop cost Newgarden a shot at his first win, leaving him 12th at the checkers. That’s the same crew Sarah Fisher had just effusively praised as “a good group” from her pit box mere minutes before. Wonder if NewKid would agree.
It was then for the fifth time Dixon’s race at Mid-Ohio to lose once he passed the early leader Bourdais. The finish was remarkable only in the sense Dixon had started dead last after a spin in qualifying before cruising away, but it’s wacky Mid-OH so anything can happen except an entertaining race. The only question that remained was fuel and Dixie’s the master of saving it – and therefore of Mid-Ohio. Again.
2nd best Post Race Quote – “Man, that sucked!” Helio Castro-Neves on “what’s it like out there”