Thursday, July 30, 2015

Track Walk: Mid-Ohio 2015

Another IndyCar race means another full hillside at Mid-Ohio
Astor Cup August is here. The antepenultimate round of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series season takes place at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The most recent round of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship was won by Ryan Hunter-Reay as the past IndyCar champion defeated Josef Newgarden, Sage Karam and Graham Rahal in an all-American top four. Americans took up six of the top seven with Ed Carpenter and Marco Andretti finishing sixth and seventh. Carlos Muñoz rounded out the top five. This will be IndyCar's 31st visit to Mid-Ohio.

Time: Coverage begins at 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday August 2nd. Green flag at 2:07 p.m. ET.
TV Channel: CNBC.
Announcers: Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy will be in the booth with Kevin Lee, Jon Beekhuis, Kate Hargitt and Robin Miller working the pit lane.

Championship Picture
Fourteen drivers enter Mid-Ohio mathematically eligible for the Astor Cup.

Juan Pablo Montoya enters with 445 points from 13 races. Forty-two points behind the Colombian is Graham Rahal. Six points back of Rahal is his former Ganassi teammate Scott Dixon. Hélio Castroneves is six points back of Dixon with Will Power rounding out the top five, a point behind Castroneves.

Sébastien Bourdais is sixth with 366 points, trailing Montoya by 79 points. Marco Andretti finds himself 87 points back of Montoya with Josef Newgarden 93 points back. Tony Kanaan trails by 121 points with Simon Pagenaud bookending the top ten for another week for Team Penske as the Frenchman sits 151 points back of his teammate.

Andretti drivers Carlos Muñoz and Ryan Hunter-Reay are 11th and 12th in the championship, trailing Montoya by 164 and 167 points respectively. Hunter-Reay is the most recent winner in the Verizon IndyCar Series after picking up his their career Iowa victory. Charlie Kimball is 13th, 170 points behind Montoya. Takuma Sato is the final driver mathematically eligible for the title, as he sits 205 points behind Montoya.

Scott Dixon is Going to Win This Race
The New Zealander is the all-time leader in IndyCar wins at Mid-Ohio with five victories on the 2.25-mile road course. Dixon won last year's race from 22nd on the grid. The previous worst starting position for a Mid-Ohio winner was eighth by Juan Pablo Montoya in 1999. Dixon's five Mid-Ohio victories all came from different positions having won from sixth, third, pole, fourth and 22nd.

Dixon leads all driver with an average finish of 3.7 at Mid-Ohio in ten starts. Dixon has six podiums, eight top fives, nine top tens and his worst Mid-Ohio finish is twelfth. He has led 201 laps at Mid-Ohio, however, every time he has led at Mid-Ohio, he has gone on to win the race. Dixon's average start at Mid-Ohio is 7.7 and he has started in the top six seven times at Mid-Ohio. Dixon has completed every lap of his ten Mid-Ohio starts.

The only other active drivers to win at Mid-Ohio are Juan Pablo Montoya, Hélio Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe and Charlie Kimball. Castroneves is the only active driver with multiple Mid-Ohio victories having won back-to-back races in 2000 and 2001.

If it's not Scott Dixon on the top step of the podium, it will likely be a Ganassi driver as Chip Ganassi Racing has won ten of 30 Mid-Ohio races including the last six.

Driver Changes
Luca Filippi is back in the #20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet after Ed Carpenter competed the last three oval races. Filippi finished second in his most recent start at Toronto, where CFH finished 1-2 with Josef Newgarden taking the checkered flag.

Rodolfo González returns in the #18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda after Pippa Mann contested the last three race rounds. González has made four starts this season with his most recent being at Toronto, where the Venezuelan led five laps during a pit stop cycle. His average finish in his four starts is 20.25 and his average starting position is 22nd.

Road to Indy
All three Mazda Road to Indy series enter their penultimate weekends of the 2015. Indy Lights have a dozen cars entered for Mid-Ohio. Jack Harvey continues to lead the championship as he returns to the site of his first career Indy Lights victory and pole position. The Schmidt Peterson driver has 278 points and leads Juncos Racing's Spencer Pigot by 18 points. Carlin's Ed Jones is two points behind Pigot in third. RC Enerson is 64 points back of his SPM teammate with Félix Serrallés rounding out the top five with 176 points.

Max Chilton is coming off his first career Indy Lights victory after winning at Milwaukee and he is three points behind Serrallés for fifth. Kyle Kaiser is a point behind Chilton with Juan Piedrahita and Scott Anderson a point back of Kaiser. Ethan Ringel rounds out the top ten with 154 points with Shelby Blackstock three points behind him. Sean Rayhall returns to competition with 8 Star Motorsports for the first time since the Freedom 100. Rayhall won on the IMS road course earlier this year and has 96 points from five starts.

Indy Lights will race at 1:55 p.m. ET on Saturday and 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

Eighteen cars are entered for the Pro Mazda weekend. Santiago Urrutia leads the championship with 251 points. Weiron Tan jumped to second after winning at Iowa and trails the Uruguayan by 27 points. Neil Alberico finds himself third, trailing Urrutia by 33 points. Forty-one points back of Urrutia is Timothé Buret. Pato O'Ward rounds out the top five, trailing his Team Pelfrey teammate Urrutia by 48 points.

Garret Grist is sixth, eight points outside the top five. Florian Latorre is ten points behind Grist in seventh. Will Owen is eight, 13 points behind the Frenchman and Jose Gutierrez sits ninth on 164 points. Daniel Burkett rounds out the top ten on 135 points with Raoul Owens four points behind him and fellow Canadian Daniel Burkett a point behind Owens. Alessandro Latif has 108 points. Kyle Connery and Bobby Eberle round out the top five in the championship.

Rounding out the entry list are Victor Franzoni, Bob Kaminsky and Michael Johnson. This is Johnson's first appearance since suffering a fractured hip and pelvis at St. Petersburg.

Pro Mazda race one will be at 1:00 p.m. ET Saturday with race two Sunday at 8:50 am. ET.

U.S. F2000 returns to competition for the first time since Toronto with 18 cars entered for the Mid-Ohio triple-header. Nico Jamin enters as the most recent winner in U.S. F2000 and the championship leader with 292 points. Jamin leads Pabst Racing's Jake Eidson by 16 points. Fifty-seven points back of Jamin is his Cape Motorsports teammate Aaron Telitz. John Cummiskey Racing's Anthony Martin is fourth, 87 points behind Jamin. Canadian Parker Thompson rounds out the top five, 148 points behind Jamin.

Luke Gabin is five points behind Thompson. Yufeng Luo has 131 points with Garth Rickards and Nikta Lastochkin a point behind him. Rickards and Lastochkin are the final drivers mathematically eligible for the title. Ayla Årgen rounds out the top ten with 126 points. Keyvan Andres Soori is four points behind Årgen. Max Hanranty and James Dayson are also entered for Mid-Ohio.

Andrew List makes his first appearance in U.S. F2000 since St. Petersburg, where he finished 12th in both races. Four drivers will be making their first start of the 2015 U.S. F2000 season. Pennsylvanian Alex Mayer and Georgian Clint McMahon will both make their debuts with RJB Motorsports. Afterburner Autosport returns to U.S. F2000 competition with Sennan Fielding and Jake Mitchell. Fielding finished fourth in last year's BRDC Formula 4 Championship and is currently fifth in the MSA Formula championship. Jake Mitchell was one of two Team USA Scholarship winners in 2012 alongside Matthew Brabham. Mitchell finished fourth in the 2014 F1600 championship.

U.S. F2000 race one will be at 4:45 p.m. ET on Friday. Race two will be at 9:50 a.m. Saturday with race three later that day at 6:00 p.m. ET.

Pirelli World Challenge
Pirelli World Challenge returns to competition after just over a month since their last round at Road America. Fifty-seven cars are entered across the GT, GT Cup and GTS classes.

Olivier Beretta enters as the GT championship leader with 1125 points. EFFORT Porsche's Ryan Dalziel trails the R.Ferri Ferrari driver by 109 points. Dalziel has yet to win this year but has seven podiums in 12 starts this season. Cadillac's Johnny O'Connell is seven points behind Dalziel. K-PAX McLaren's Kevin Éstre has 972 points and is fourth in the championship. The most recent winner in PWC, James Davison rounds out the top five with 901 points.

Bentley driver Chris Dyson is sixth in the championship on 892 points. CRP Racing Audi's Mike Skeen is 50 points back of Dyson. Acura's Ryan Eversley has 805 points. Michael Lewis and Henrique Cisneros rounds out the top ten in the GT championship with Butch Leitzinger in 11th. Cisneros is the top GT-A competitor.

Other notable drivers competing in the GT class are Andy Pilgrim, Robert Thorne, Duncan Ende, Christina Nielsen, Bret Curtis and Frank Montecalvo. Austin Cindric will make his PWC GT class debut in the #25 Blancpain Racing Lamborghini.

In GT Cup, Colin Thompson has a commanding lead in the championship with nine wins from 11 starts. Lorenzo Trefethan trails Thompson by 442 points. Sloan Urry is a point back of Trefethan. Preston Calvert and Victor Gomez round out the top five in GT Cup.

Ford Mustang driver Andrew Aquilante leads the GTS championship with 911 points and is the most recent winner in GTS after picking up his first win of 2015 at Road America. His teammate Kurt Rezzetano is 13 points back of Aquilante. Dean Martin makes it a clean sweep of the top three for Ford Mustang drivers, as he is 87 points back of Aquilante. Jack Baldwin trails by 128 points and is fourth in the championship. Michael Cooper rounds out the top five, 148 points back.

Kia Racing's Mark Wilkins has 751 points and is three points ahead of his teammate Ben Clucas. Kris Wilson returns to competition after missing the previous two rounds. Wilson finds himself eighth in the championship with 661 points and has a GTS leading three wins. Jack Roush, Jr. is one point behind Wilson and Lou Gigliotti rounds out the top ten in GTS, 29 points behind Roush, Jr.

GTS will race at 5:40 p.m. on Friday and 11:45 a.m. on Saturday. The GT races will take place at 4:45 p.m. ET on Saturday and noon ET on Sunday.

Fast Facts
This will be fourth IndyCar race to take place on August 2nd. The previous three August 2nd race all took place at Michigan with Johnny Rutherford winning their in 1986, Michael Andretti winning there in 1987 and Scott Goodyear winning their in 1992.

Chevrolet has won nineteen consecutive pole positions. Chevrolet has won three consecutive Mid-Ohio pole positions.

Honda has won two of the last three Mid-Ohio races and has taken six of nine podium positions.

The average starting position of a Mid-Ohio winner is 3.466.

The average amount of lead changes at Mid-Ohio is 4.366. The most lead changes at Mid-Ohio is eight, which occurred in 1988 and 2007. The fewest lead changes at Mid-Ohio is one, which occurred in 1986 and 2000.

The average amount of cautions at Mid-Ohio is 1.9 for an average of 7.4 laps. The most cautions in a Mid-Ohio race are 5, which occurred in 2008 and 2010. Nineteen laps were run under caution in 2008.

Possible Milestones:
Should Takuma Sato take the green flag on Sunday, he will make his 100th IndyCar start.

Hélio Castroneves needs to lead 78 laps to reach the 5,500 laps led milestone.

Tony Kanaan needs to lead 68 laps to reach the 4,000 laps led milestone.

Ryan Briscoe needs to lead 58 laps to reach the 1,500 laps led milestone.

Marco Andretti needs to lead 14 laps to reach the 1,000 laps led milestone.

Scott Dixon wins. A Honda finishes on the podium. Simon Pagenaud will be the top finishing Penske driver. There will be at least two incidents that race control decides to wait and review until after the race. At least five Chevrolets will make the Firestone Fast Six but two of those five will finish outside the top ten. A rookie finishes in the top ten. Sleeper: Charlie Kimball.