LIVE BLOG: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on August 1, 2014 9:09 am


5:14 PM ET — So, we had a little bit of a storm here (that’s an understatement — in truth the skies opened), and it’s made for an interesting afternoon.

The outcome of Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying was directly affected by the conditions. We’ve got that covered in our Honda Indy 200 Event Summary with the full grid for tomorrow’s race and very thorough notes on how it played out.

The USF2000 race just before that probably got the brunt of the rain, though. Multiple incidents and red flags later, RC Enerson and Victor Franzoni tangled in the Esses on the last lap and handed the win to Jacob Eidson with MFW blogger Aaron Telitz coming in second and Henrik Furuseth finishing third. That was their second race of the weekend; the third is scheduled for 9:05 tomorrow morning.

After IndyCar qualifying the Lights cars took to the track, and it was pretty well dry by then. Jack Harvey claimed his first victory of the year after leading from flag to flag. He was joined on the podium by Gabby Chaves and Luiz Razia. I started following that race part way through thanks to the post-qualifying press conference, but I didn’t catch any incidents of note.

From my seat in the media center I have a view across the front straight of the IndyCar Fan Village, and I couldn’t help but notice the excellent turnout for the IndyCar driver autograph session that started over there at 4:30. The line-up was five or six people wide all the way out the Fan Village gate and snaked around the outside perimeter to past where I could see the end of it. The fans that come to Mid-Ohio are easily among the most dedicated and enthusiastic, and it’s a really cool thing to see year after year.

Speaking of fans, I’m now heading across to the infield to join the Indy Fans Tweet-up at 5:30. If you’re reading this now and you’re at the track, you may still have time to get there! Come and meet us at the red tables behind the restaurant just inside the main pedestrian bridge. Hope to see you there!


4:58 PM ET — Before qualifying, Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe joined the media for what was (as usual) a very entertaining visit. Below is a selection of key quotes from the availability.

On whether there’s still time to catch Penske teammates Will Power and Helio Castroneves for the title:

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, absolutely. We are somewhere around 70 points back, is that what it is?


RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Round up, that’s what I did with that (laughter). So, yeah, in 2012 I think we were back 63 points, I’m not sure what it was, but it was a pretty big margin. We had less amount of time to do it then. So with a double points race at Fontana and races now at Mid-Ohio, which is a strong one for us, Milwaukee is a strong one for us, Sonoma we’ve been pretty good at, I think there’s absolutely a good shot at it.  We’ll probably need some help, a little bit of help, from Helio having an off weekend. Will is right there as well. We’re going to keep our heads down, hopefully be a little bit of an underdog going into Fontana with the title on the line. That’s all I can ask for. (Would you rather be chasing or leading?) Chasing is more fun, but leading you have that points cushion. If something does go wrong, you have a shot at still the championship. I think I’d rather be leading. I guess my whole career I’ve been chasing, so I think that is the way it should be.

On James Hinchcliffe’s unusual facial grooming this weekend:

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: We have a group of guys that are diehard 28 fans that are called Team Stashe. They have the logo, the mustache. They donated over a thousand dollars for cancer. It started if I would grow a mustache. Well, I’d have to work a season to do that.

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: It would take him a fair amount of time.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY:  (James has) picked it up here. He’s gone almost all the way there. I was really hoping he’d go clean. This morning he offered, he said, Ryan, if you raise another thousand dollars, I’ll just go mustache. I was like, done.

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: When I said that, I was a little drunk. (This morning?) That was a joke. Drunk on happiness to be able to drive at Mid-Ohio. Duh! This is for my homeboy Ryan Hunter-Reay, who is definitely not as awesome at growing a mustache.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: It looks like a goatee.

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: It’s shaved here. It’s like the handlebar, like the ‘My Name is Earl’ kind of thing. I have the little soul patch. (Did you donate anything money-wise?) I donated my face! And my ego, and embarrassment is what I donated.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I don’t think you’ve gone far enough on the embarrassment side. It needs to go the awkward side.

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: I could go maybe more for it tomorrow. I think the guys are only coming tomorrow. I thought they were going to be here today to see it in all its glory. I’ll have to keep it. If I’m on pole, I will put it just mustache for the race.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Oh, boy. You heard it here.

On Carlos Munoz and his progress as a rookie:  

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Carlos has done a great job. He’s done a great job as a rookie. I think he’s done it right with having a few races in 2013, then came in as a full rookie in ’14. Definitely the right way to do it. He’s been very fast. Obviously he’s learning every race weekend, especially in the races. This is a really tough series to be a rookie in because of how close it is. You could see today, it was a testament to how competitive the series is.  The times are ridiculously tight. He’s done an excellent job. He’s very quick, got a lot of natural talent.

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: He’s actually very Montoya-esque in the sense that his hands are faster than anybody I’ve seen. The last guy that could drive a car like that that I can remember watching is Juan. He’s as brave as they come. There’s no doubt about it.  Yeah, Ryan nailed it. This is not only a tough series to be a rookie in for how competitive it is, but the amount of testing you get. Obviously the jump up from Lights to IndyCar is very big on a race weekend, not just in terms of the demands in the car, but more so the demands outside of the car.  He’s learning every weekend like Ryan said. He’s got loads of natural talent and I think there’s more to come from him.

On whether double points races add value to IndyCar:

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I personally think, not just because of how it ended this year, but I think that Indianapolis should be the only double points race.  I mean, c’mon, seriously, it is the most important race we have. We’re there for a month. Why wouldn’t it be double points?

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Because it hasn’t been for the last 97 years.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: We have a month long of practice and qualifying over two weekends. We don’t do that anymore. We completely threw out the qualifying procedure at Indianapolis as well.

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: All valid points. If there is going to be a double points race, I would vote Indy. I still don’t think there should be any double points races.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: I agree with you on that part.

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: Let’s say you have a good superspeedway car. You have a chance at 300 points instead of 150 points. If you have a good short track car, good Mid-Ohio car… It’s not just that there’s double points races, it’s they’re all on the same type of racetracks. I think that unfairly sways who has the best chance at getting those points. It’s the same for doubleheaders — they’re all street courses. If you have a better street course car, you have a better chance at scoring double points than if you have a really good Mid-Ohio car. For the sake of consistency, the championship, equality, I just think they’re not very fair.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: IndyCar has always been one of the true drivers’ championships because it covers all disciplines of racing other than let’s say dirt. We don’t do that. But it’s the short oval, the superspeedway, the road courses, street circuits. That’s the one thing that sets it apart. You tip that to one side or the other when you start rewarding double points on certain types of racetracks. It gives emphasis on that type of racing. Leave the schedule as it is, let’s add some races, but do away with the double points.

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: You have to win both Milwaukee and Iowa to equal a good Fontana car, right? It’s just not even. Very different packages. As a team we’re strong on short tracks. Superspeedways we were lucky. Some guys don’t have that. From a championship point of view, I’d rather do away with the double points and add three more ovals.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: 500 miles at Milwaukee, double points.



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