Qualifying for the Mid Ohio race this weekend set the grid in a more unique fashion. The more prominent and consistent drivers who usually make the fast six were scattered in the latter pole positions like Scott Dixon’s 11th place start, or Sebastien Bourdais’ 16th place start.
However, pole positions didn’t make for a huge determining factor in the finish, unless you count Simon Pagenaud’s pole start and P1 finish. Pagenaud’s brilliant finish lands him the lead in the points for the Championship over Will Power and Helio Castroneves, respectively. The pressure was on at Mid Ohio as it was the fifth-to-last race of the season, and every point matters as we count down to the end of the season.
As far as the rest of the usual race leaders, Power lost his lead in a turn with Pagenaud and an apparent missing of a gear or loss of power causing him to slow down and allow Pagenaud to overtake him. Luckily, he finished second, but could have had another win had that circumstance not come to happen.
Poor Dixon tried to tango with Castroneves on lap 16, and gained a reminder of the consequences of messing with Helio. His direct quote, “Should have known better dealing with Helio–it usually ends like this.” Dixon was out, until lap 60.
The Chip-Ganassi Target team worked hard to get his car back on the track to mile out his engine since he was only five miles away from a replacement. So not all was entirely loss, aside from not gaining any points towards the Championship. But he remains fifth in the series to-date.
Josef Newgarden did not have a good race, and was continually getting hit by other drivers. The hardest hit came from, at the time, race leader Mikhail Aleshin, who was waved out of the pits and ran straight into Newgarden. Aleshin lost his lead and Newgarden would recover, finishing 10th with points.
Castroneves and Tony Kanaan finished 15th and 12th, respectively. It’s difficult to say why they ended up there, but drivers were continually having issues and mishaps on the track, with even Takuma Sato and Bourdais having a run-in, which Sato recovered from, but Bourdais had to retire from the race with only four laps to go.
Mid-Ohio is an interesting track. I would say it was partially the track that caused much of the discord, but more of it was the pressure to gain points for the Championship. A fire has been lit under everyone’s seats and they’re vying to get that top spot, or at least have enough points to hold first without needing the double-points race at the end of the season.