IRR is getting these out early this week for a variety of reasons, including the fact that in the fascinatingly unique universe of IndyCar absolutely nothing can possibly change or affect these predictions between now and Friday practice. Short of another transporter fire, that is.
We’re also getting the jump on the competition – it’s already afternoon in England! – and winning the race as it were. An early post also ensures plenty of time for our loyal readers to dissect, deride and belittle these predictions and to rip’em to shreds, like forty lap old tires on Nashville Speedway [bring back the concrete jungle!].
We’re not going to blow our own horn here at IRR too much, but our inaugural edition of predictions made for the two in TO weren’t half bad. That is, if you reverse the races (it was a scrambled weekend, wasn’t it?). And ignore certain other portions of the rather bold and wide ranging picks. Oh, and the pole sitters too, unless they can be counted as winners.
IRR’s crack team of crystal ballers had Conway and TK both having strong weekends, and unlike some other sites we aren’t homers for Penske. Never will be. Really, what’s the point of that? Where’s the fun in picking the favorites all the time? Unless of course you’re gambling. Then it’s kind of important and in which case never bet against the Penske cars.
With our quasi-success at divining the results north of the border, who are we to pick against ECR’s Kentish Mike Conway? He’s hot, IRR’s hot, we say what the hell. There’s even a puff piece story on the Englishman here on this very site. Aware that it’s a road-y and not a street-y at Mid-Ohio and the fact Conway struggled mightily at Barber – seems like months ago, doesn’t it? – we’re staying with the hot hand, or hot rod in this case. Heck, ECR struggled at Toronto the first couple of days and look how that turned out.
Mid-Ohio will be Charlie Kimball’s first race as defending winner, and we’ve been high on him and the whole Target Team. He raced fairly well at Barber finishing 10th in a backup car. The team in general and Dixon in particular have dominated at Mid-Ohio lately. It feels like a Target weekend, but sorry Charlie, the winner will be from the A Team, not the B.
Then there’s the always interesting and chatty Graham Rahal, who’s certainly not lacking in confidence. “You’ll see us on the top step of the podium soon,” he matter of factly told reporters after Toronto.
This is Graham’s home vicinity race and perhaps – in what would be a serious upgrade in scenery – young Miss Force will be in his pit rooting him on. We at IRR sure hope so. Even with all these things in Graham’s favor, RLL has been plagued by reliability issues with the Honda all season and suffered some bad luck. That’s set to continue on Sunday. Sorry Courtney.
We predict Scott Dixon, winner of four of the last seven at Mid-Ohio, has the best shot to take the Target colors to the top of the field this weekend, in what would be his and Target’s first win of the year. Chip “the Hut” as we affectionately refer to him at IRR will explode leaving little bits of red and white blubber all over the paddock if they don’t win soon. If the winner’s not from Ganassi’s stable and Chip does become whale confetti on pit lane, then it’s thanks to the little team that could and Kentish Mike Conway.
Pole Winner – Power or Castro Neves
Race Winner – Dixon or Conway
1st out of the race – Rahal or Aleshin
Biggest Surprise – Andretti or Wilson
Race Preview : Or, Murdering Mid-Ohio
Last year’s race at Mid-OH was memorable, barely, only because it was Charlie Kimball’s first series victory. He’s a likeable enough chap, an American, and someone who has an inspiring story to tell as a racer with Diabetes. Good for him.
Otherwise, the race was typical Mid-Ohio. It was unremarkable and even downright boring, featuring heavy doses of “strategy.” That means teams focus on fuel and tire saving while hoping to get lucky on pit stop timing. Or, the polar opposite of racing.
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is among the worst of all the many venues, past and present, on the IndyCar Series schedule. Our intrepid reporters even attended a race at Gateway Speedway, just outside of lovely East St. Louis with stunning views of landfills in every direction, and preferred it to Mid-Ohio. It’s just not an appropriate track for the artistry on wheels that is IndyCar.
A rural road course, it has neither the pretty flowers and trees of Barber, nor the high desert baked-out brownness of Sonoma. More importantly, Mid-Ohio provides less passing and on track action than it does destination dining.
As a racecourse, it’s simply there in the middle of nowhere begging to be used for something other than the odd motorbike race. Not surprisingly, Mid-Ohio is apparently available for cheap to host the ICS’s annual single file parade and camping jamboree. Seriously, you and a few friends can rent the whole joint out for a weekend, it’s that classy. The racing product is consistently un-compelling. No wonder television ratings will be down this week – again.
The track is old and out of date enough to be too narrow for modern IndyCars, but new enough to lack any history or gravitas, like Milwaukee or Long Beach. It’s kinda like a (nicer) part of Oakland plunked down in Buckeyeland, with “no there there.” Our primary hope is that it’s not a total runaway race controlled flag to flag by a large red and white Hut led team. But it’s a distinct possibility.