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After a hiatus thanks to a half empty Brickyard 400 – making us wonder if those bean counters running Indy Car will ever learn to walk and chew gun at the same time – we’re finally back to racing. Too bad it’s at one of the lesser tracks on the schedule, Mid-Ohio. How’s that for IndyCar building momentum – a week off followed by a trip to a sports car track in the sticks?
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More fitting for a walk than a race, Mid-Ohio’s like Barber without the “beautiful setting” part. At least Barber manages to put on a watchable race every few years. To be fair, it’s nearby Indy and apparently the camping’s adequate. To be unfair, we advocate ditching this race in favor of Road America in Wisconsin plus a few ovals, reiterating our long held view “Down With Mid-Ohio.”
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Making matters worse, the undulating country sports car course is almost always won by Scott Dixon – five times now, yawn – or another Ganassi driver like Charlie Kimball, who broke through in 2013. When asked via Twitter if he expected to demolish the field with a four car sweep, The Chipster extraordinarily had no comment. He did however steal a Donald Trump gag of ours and for his brazen, egregious theft we let him hear about it. Looking back, maybe that’s why he had no comment to our follow up question. Anyway, it’s doubly disconcerting when considering the very real possibility he’ll be back in victory lane, regardless of the quality camping.
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But perhaps there’s a whiff of hope wafting through the acrid campfire smoke – if it’s possible for anything hopeful to come out of France. Sebastien Bourdais has been racy lately and led at Mid Ohio last year only to come in second. The KV Racing pilot’s coming off wins at Detroit and Milwaukee and looks to complete the rust belt triple crown this year. Other potential winners include Tennessee’s own Josef Newgarden for CFH Racing, who had an unfortunate first lap encounter with Tony Kanaan last year but has won twice in 2015, as well as the every race threat Graham Rahal who drives for his dad and will be racing on his rather lacking home track.
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Andretti‘s bunch bounced back in Iowa and look to continue salvaging their season Sunday as serious series spoilers. Problem is, Marco has a tendency to get air borne at the hilly track. Also downstream of the campground latrine, Team Penske’s struggles continue and historically they’ve stunk at Mid-Ohio thanks to the Ganassi boys. Montoya leads the championship though, so the team will circle the wagons for the Cap’n and certainly aren’t above blocking, chopping and worse – particularly now since it’s no rules IndyCar.
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Due to IndyCar’s war footing, we can hope for “avoidable contact” at least making the day bearable, although last year’s first lap pileup didn’t help matters much, or for long. Don’t hold your breath for any in race penalties either, that is unless Coyne‘s car renters start bowling over their crewmembers again and even then it’s iffy. Unlike certain other series, wrecks aren’t the point of open wheel racing. However, compared to another narcolepsy inducing Mid-Ohio fuel strategy race trying out those new bumpers might be interesting to see. It’d beat another Ganassi parade, at least.
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Our best advice for enjoying the show Sunday is to grab plenty of extra beers, crank up the air conditioning and be thankful for your health, your family and your good fortune. Be especially thankful you’re not stuck in some muddy campground in the middle of nowhere watching inchoate Chip chugging towards victory lane on that scooter of his – again.
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