Photo from indycar.com
IndyCar’s lucky thirteenth stop on the schedule happens to be the annual trip into the ditch that is Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Get ready for a fuel savin’ extravaganza featuring fewer passes than Columbus’ Corn Princess Parade . . . and menacingly, also a potentially lethal surprise.
This week’s special prediction involves the inherent danger of Sunday’s race. Anytime you tread into “Ganassi’s Paradise” you’re risking both life and limb, but Mid-Ohio holds an additional, less obvious risk. Be forewarned, as it’s a serious threat to viewing fans. The real danger during the race will be folks nodding off in haze of bloviating about pit stop strategy and fuel mileage. In some extreme instances, sleep can be dangerous.
Photo from the Bettman archive
Pick for pole position is especially unimportant, as the pole sitter’s only won once out of the last five contests at Mid-Ohio. Frenchman Simon Pagenaud won from pole in his championship season last year, but that’s it. Ragin’ Graham Rahal won from thirteenth simply being himself in 2015, while rarely cautious Charlie Kimball triumphed from fifth in 2013. Scott Dixon’s always a threat there, starting fourth and incredibly even dead last in just his most recent victories in Ohio. So we’re predicting the scarily good looking Josef Newgarden for P1.
Due to the wide open nature of the course, usually only a car or two fail to make the finish. Even then it’s usually due to someone running into a gravel pit late in the day and simply parking it, though contact and mechanicals claim the odd car, as well. Obviously first out of the race will be Tony “crash course” Kanaan, as he’s made us look smart before. He has two DNFs out of the last five “races” at this terrible track, with a best finish of fifth – and a worst of last. Plus he’s getting quite long in the tooth and has caused several terrifying crashes already this season.
The biggest surprise will be that any passing takes place at all – outside of the pits, that is. Another term to beware of is “strategy,” which in reality often amounts to a luckily timed pit stop during a rare yellow. Twice lately the race has been caution free – back to back in 2012 and 2013 – with one or two being the norm. Rahal’s win was the exception featuring four cautions, though Charlie “pinball” Kimball was responsible for at least half of them. Scary stuff, huh?
The winner of the race won’t be a surprise at all, and in fact only adds to the fearsome dread of the event. The always dangerous Scott Dixon will win for the sixth time at IndyCar’s most lethally tedious track, his third out of the last six. After all, it is Ganassi’s Paradise, Holmes. All other teams enter at their own peril.
Mid-Ohio’s a classic example of a track that doesn’t deserve a place on the schedule, at least not without major improvements to its bore you to death racing. The back to back ovals next up on the docket – including the particularly perilous Pocono – can’t get here soon enough.