FIRST IMPRESSIONS: 2014 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

First Impressions, IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on August 3, 2014 5:02 pm
Tweet about this on Twitter3Share on Facebook0Share on Google+1Share on Reddit0Share on LinkedIn0Email this to someone

The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is in the books for another year. Here are the More Front Wing crew’s first impressions of the event. Please feel free to add your own in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

STEPH’S IMPRESSIONS:

Normally at this point in a weekend we’re making apologies — it’s a great driver’s track, fans love coming here, it’s the Honda company picnic, et cetera.

This year, in my view, no apologies are needed. What a riveting race from start to finish! And seeing Scott Dixon and Mike Hull work the strategy perfectly to go from last to first and across the line with about a straightaway of fuel to spare was an absolute thing of beauty.

Plus, there was so much going on behind him: championship implications for Castroneves and Ryan Hunter-Reay, absolute devastation as yet another solid shot at a first win for Josef Newgarden slipped away, Hinchcliffe’s masterful jump to gain 10 spots in the first-lap incident that took out Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti, and on and on.

This one’s getting saved on the DVR — it was one for the ages. And now there’s irrefutable proof: you can never, ever, ever bet against Scott Dixon at Mid-Ohio.

*

PAUL’S IMPRESSIONS:

If you really thought Chip Ganassi racing was going to be shut out of victories during the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season, you were kidding yourself. A few weeks ago on one of the MFW podcasts, we previewed the balance of the season and how we saw the remaining races playing out. Both Steph and I agreed at the time that we felt fairly safe in handing the Mid-Ohio victory to Scott Dixon. Starting last today, I wasn’t quite so confident Scott would come through for us, but I really do appreciate the Kiwi making Steph and me look so smart.

This win for Dixon and his team was truly something to behold. You don’t often see a driver come from the last-place starting position to the top of the podium without a lot of yellow-flag racing and a lot of carnage. This race really had neither of those. Scott simply drove an incredible race, was able to save fuel, and could still pull away from his contenders. A great fuel/pit strategy by his TCGR team and a fortunate yellow flag when Ryan Hunter-Reay looped his car around certainly helped Dixon’s cause, but watching him perform over the final 50 laps of the race was to watch a microcosm of Scott Dixon’s cool and illustrious career. He was cool and perfect when he needed to be and he was unbeatable even when he had to save fuel.

The heartbreak of the race, without a doubt, goes to Josef Newgarden. In his most competitive effort since Long Beach, Josef was extremely strong through the first 3/4 of the race, but a very costly, and honestly quite amateurish, mistake by his Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing pit crew cost Newgarden both a slow pit stop and a drive-through penalty. The young Nashville native must have been absolutely crushed in the cockpit but faced the TV cameras immediately afterwards with an extremely classy interview. Kudos to Newgy, whose first win is no doubt coming soon.

The season now comes down to three races on three very different types of tracks. This is what IndyCar racing is and should be about. With only a handful of guys realistically still in competition for the season championship, the most diverse, well-rounded, best-prepared, and luckiest driver across those disciplines will claim the Astor Cup. What more can a race fan ask for? Bring on Milwaukee!

*

BASH’S IMPRESSIONS:

Well, that was a crazy start that resulted in a full course yellow at Mid-Ohio for the first time since 2011. So started one of the most strategy-driven races on the calendar. Passing can be a rarity, so fuel, tires and other people’s mistakes make all the difference here.

Seeing points leader Helio Castroneves in the pits with a mechanical at the start threw a wrench into the championship race, so I made a note to track Will Power to see how much advantage he could take. Keeping track of the strategies started giving me a headache early on (too much like straight math for my liking) so I decided I’d just let the NBCSN guys handle that task and simplify it down to watching the points.

Ryan Hunter-Reay had a pit speed penalty and an off, which punched his championship chances in the gut. Looks like these guys are determined to have a neck-and-neck points battle going into the last three races. Just the way I like it!

Thank goodness for Josef Newgarden actually passing cars to give some on-track thrill to this race. That kid is threatening to win and it will be a good thing for IndyCar when he does. Mid-race, Josef placed himself in second behind Scott Dixon (pit strategy put Dixie in the lead) to take advantage of anything going awry with Dixie’s strategy.

Just when I wondered what could happen next, Charlie Kimball took Juan Montoya through several turns side-by-side and forced his way ahead of the raging Colombian. These kids are proving you can pass at Mid-Ohio — you just have to have the guts. More, please!

Newgarden hit crappy luck, running over the air hose, tripping his crewman, who had to untangle and get up to get the car jacked so the tires could be changed. Long stop topped by a penalty for hitting equipment and that was it for the 67… no chance to win today.

And while I completely discounted Scott Dixon’s chanced to win, the crazy Kiwi did his fuel-saving magic tricks and made Mike Hull’s strategy pay off for his fifth win at Mid-Ohio and Ganassi’s sixth in a row at this track. Just insane. This field of talent and these tough Dallaras are even turning snoozy Mid-Ohio into must-see TV.

Will Power took the points lead and things tightened up between the top five in the championship with three races left to decide it all. Can’t really ask for more going down the stretch.

*

Tweet about this on Twitter3Share on Facebook0Share on Google+1Share on Reddit0Share on LinkedIn0Email this to someone
Tags: