Sunday, August 2, 2015

Morning Warm-Up: Mid-Ohio 2015

Scott Dixon won his 25th career pole position at the track he owns.
Mr. Mid-Ohio never seems to disappoint. Scott Dixon will start the Honda 200 from pole position as he looks for a record-extending sixth Mid-Ohio victory. Dixon enters trailing championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya by 47 points after picking up the bonus point for pole position. The New Zealander shattered the Mid-Ohio track record by running a 64.5814-second lap in the Firestone Fast Six. Dixon has won every Mid-Ohio race he has led a lap in. Will Power joins Dixon on the front row. Power has never won at Mid-Ohio but has finished second twice. He finished second to Dario Franchitti in 2010 and to Dixon in 2012.

Sébsatien Bourdais was the third and final driver to break into the 64-second bracket in qualifying. However, the Frenchman missed pole by 0.4151 seconds. Bourdais finished second at Mid-Ohio last year. Hélio Castroneves starts fourth. Castroneves has finished outside the top fifteen in three of his last four Mid-Ohio starts. Josef Newgarden and Charlie Kimball make it an all-America row three. Newgarden enters coming off consecutive top five finishes and this will be Kimball's best start of 2015. Kimball won at Mid-Ohio from fifth in 2013.

Ryan Hunter-Reay breaks up the Chevrolet party as he will roll off from seventh. Hunter-Reay is looking for consecutive top ten finishes for the first time since Houston last year when he finished seventh and sixth at that doubleheader. Tony Kanaan will join Hunter-Reay on row four. Kanaan has never finished on the podium at Mid-Ohio and he has finished outside of the top twenty in his last two Mid-Ohio visits. Luca Filippi qualified ninth. Filippi finished second in his last start a month and a half ago at Toronto. Juan Pablo Montoya rounds out the top ten. Montoya won his first start at Mid-Ohio in 1999 but finished 24th in 2000 from 10th on the grid and started and finished 11th last year. Jack Hawksworth starts 11th, his best start since the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Marco Andretti will round out row six.

Graham Rahal is second in championship and just missed out of round two of qualifying. The Ohio-native will start 13th with his former Newman-Haas teammate Justin Wilson joining him on row seven. Simon Pagenaud rounds out the top fifteen. Pagenaud had been the only driver to make it to every Firestone Fast Six session this year. This is Pagenaud's first time starting outside the top ten on a road/street circuit since Sonoma last year, where he started 15th. He finished third in that race. Takuma Sato will start 16th. This will be Sato's 100th IndyCar start if he takes the green flag. He will become the 84th driver to reach that milestone. James Jakes will start 17th with rookies Stefano Coletti and Sage Karam being the next two drivers on the grid. Ryan Briscoe rounds out the top twenty.

Rookie of the Year leader Gabby Chaves will start 21st with Rodolfo González making his Mid-Ohio debut from 22nd on the grid. Scott Dixon won last year's Mid-Ohio race from 22nd and in doing so became the first driver to win a Mid-Ohio race from starting outside the top ten. Carlos Muñoz will start 23rd after having his fastest two laps nullified in qualifying. Tristan Vautier will round out the grid in 24th.

The Honda 200 from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will be on CNBC with coverage beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET and green flag at 2:07 p.m. ET.