By ROB HAMILTON
Even though he might be the one IndyCar driver who never could be counted out at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, due to winning the Honda Indy 200 four times in the seven years since the series came to the Morrow County road course, it would have been understandable to discount Scott Dixon’s chances of taking the checkered flag this year.
Due to creating a red flag during Saturday’s qualifying, which took place under rainy conditions, Dixon had to start at the back of the 22-car race on a course where passing isn’t particularly easy to pull off.
But by the end of Sunday, Dixon had claimed a fifth victory at Mid-Ohio, as his fuel conservation strategy received a big assist from a caution roughly midway through the race. By staying on the track instead of pitting, he was able to take the lead, which he was able to hold for all but five laps the rest of the way. Overall, Dixon held the lead for 45 laps of the 90-lap race, while second-place finisher Sebastien Bourdais paced the field for 38, including the first 25. James Hinchcliffe, who finished third, led two laps, while rookie Carlos Munoz and Graham Rahal rounded out the top five.
It was also a good day for Will Power, despite finishing fifth. Penske teammate Helio Castroneves, who entered Sunday as the series points leader, had car troubles to open the race and finished in 19th place, allowing Power to move four points in front with three races remaining. In the Indy Lights series, Jack Harvey was the weekend’s big winner, as he won on both Saturday and Sunday to move into second place in the season standings at only 18 points behind leader Gabby Chaves. He led all 70 laps contested between the two races.
On Saturday, Chaves was second, while Luiz Rizia finished third. Sunday saw Zach Veach place second, while Chaves took third. There were also two races raced in the Pro Mazda Grand Prix series. On Saturday, Nicholas Costa took first, while Ryan Booth was second and Shelby Blackstock ran third. Only Costa would reach the podium of that trio Sunday, though, as he ran second. The race was won by Garett Grist, while Scott Hargrove placed third.
Despite not finishing in the top three in either race, Spencer Pigot was able to maintain a 14-point lead over Hargrove in the season standings.
There were races held Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the USF2000 series, with a new winner being crowned each day. The first day saw R.C. Enerson run first, while Florian Latorre took second and Peter Portante finished third. On Saturday, Jake Eidson earned the checkered flag, while Aaron Telitz finished second and Henrik Furuseth placed third. Then, on Sunday, Latorre, the series points leader by 31 over Eidson, won. Portante ran second and Enerson was third.
There also were four races held in the Pirelli World Challenge series during what was a busy week at Mid-Ohio. Two were run for the TC/TCA/TCB classes, while the GT/GTS classes were featured in the other two races.
The first TC/TCA/TCB race was held on Friday, with Michael DiMeo winning the TC class and finishing first overall. The top TCA car was driven by Ohio’s Jason Wolfe (Mount Vernon), while the TCB class was won by Tyler Palmer.
DiMeo won again on Saturday, but the other two classes had new champions, as Shea Holbrook took first in the TCA class and Chase Pelletier was tops in the TCB.
The GT/GTS races were the largest of the weekend, with 48 cars starting on Saturday and 47 on Sunday. On Saturday, Ryan Dalziel won the GT class and was the top overall finisher, while the GTS class went to Lawson Aschenbach. Due to poor weather conditions due to rain, this race wound up being red flagged and then ruled complete after 19 laps. On Sunday, the drivers went for 32 laps, but the results were the same at the top, with Dalziel and Aschenbach both claiming wins.
Reach Rob Hamilton at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807, or on Twitter at @SportsMCS