Sunday, July 31, 2016

Morning Warm-Up: Mid-Ohio 2016

Simon Pagenaud picked up another pole position at Mid-Ohio
For the sixth time this season, Simon Pagenaud will lead the field to the green flag of a Verizon IndyCar Series race. The Frenchman won pole position with a lap at 63.8700 seconds, a new track record at the 2.25-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Pagenaud's previous best starting position at Mid-Ohio was third. This is the 34th time in IndyCar history a driver has won at least six pole positions in a season. Pagenaud won two of the previous five races he has started on pole position with a second in the second Belle Isle race. Pagenaud could become the first driver to win three races from pole position in a season since Will Power won four in 2011. Power joins Pagenaud for an all-Team Penske front row. Power qualified less than a tenth behind his teammate. This will be Power's fifth front row start at Mid-Ohio. Last year, Power started second but finished 14th. He has failed to lead a lap in his last three starts at Mid-Ohio.

Josef Newgarden qualified third, his third consecutive top five starting position at Mid-Ohio and the fourth time he has qualified in the top ten at Mid-Ohio. Despite the success in qualifying, Newgarden's best finish at Mid-Ohio is 12th on two occasions. The Ed Carpenter Racing driver is coming off a 22nd-place finish at Toronto. He has finished sixth and third after his previous two finishes outside the top twenty. After two consecutive starts outside the top fifteen, Ryan Hunter-Reay qualified fourth, his eighth consecutive top ten start at Mid-Ohio. Hunter-Reay has nine top ten finishes in ten Mid-Ohio starts. Charlie Kimball qualified fifth, his fourth top five start of the season, a career-high for the Ganassi driver. Kimball matches his best qualifying effort at Mid-Ohio. He won from fifth on the grid at Mid-Ohio in 2013. Graham Rahal rounds out row three next to his former teammate. Rahal won last year's Mid-Ohio race form 13th on the grid.

Hélio Castroneves missed out on the final round of qualifying and will start seventh. This is the tenth time Castroneves will start seventh in his career. He has finished in the top ten on eight occasions from seventh on the grid. The first time he started seventh was at Mid-Ohio in 1999. He finished seventh that day. Juan Pablo Montoya matches his best starting position at Mid-Ohio in eighth position. Montoya won from eighth at Mid-Ohio in 1999. James Hinchcliffe will start ninth, his second-best starting position at Mid-Ohio. All three of Hinchcliffe's top ten finishes at Mid-Ohio came when he started outside the top ten. He finished third at Mid-Ohio in 2014 from 17th on the grid. Mikhail Aleshin makes it an all-Schmidt Peterson Motorsports row five. Aleshin has two top ten finishes on the trot.

Scott Dixon will start 11th, the fourth time in his career he has started outside the top ten at Mid-Ohio. Dixon won from 22nd on the grid at Mid-Ohio two years ago. Last year, Dixon led 22 laps before finishing fourth. It was the first time Dixon led laps on Mid-Ohio and did not go on to win the race. Alexander Rossi advanced to the second round of qualifying for the first time in his career at Mid-Ohio and will start 12th. Rossi is still looking for his first top ten starting position of his career. Rossi started 12th in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis after Newgarden and Rahal had their times disallowed from qualifying and he went on to finish tenth. Max Chilton and Tony Kanaan make it an all-Ganassi row seven. This is the second consecutive race where Chilton missed out on the second round of qualifying by one position. Kanaan has eight top ten finishes in ten starts from 14th on the grid.

Carlos Muñoz qualified 15th for the third consecutive race and this is the fourth time he has started 15th this season. He has yet to finish in the top ten from 15th on the grid. Sébastien Bourdais joins Muñoz on row eight. Bourdais has started outside the top ten in seven races this season and has finished in the top ten in six of those races, including a victory from 13th at Belle Isle in June. Jack Hawksworth qualified 17th in the #41 ABC Supply Co. Honda. The British driver has finished on the lead lap in only three races this season, both Indianapolis races and Road America. RC Enerson will make his IndyCar debut from 18th on the grid. Enerson won last year at Mid-Ohio in Indy Lights and finished fourth in the other race.

Spencer Pigot and Takuma Sato will start on row ten. Pigot has yet to lead a lap in his IndyCar career. Sato has never led a lap at Mid-Ohio and his average finish at Mid-Ohio is 17.7. Sato finished fourth at Mid-Ohio in 2011. Marco Andretti and Conor Daly will start on the final row of the grid. This is the fifth time Andretti has started on the last row of the grid this season. He has finished in the top ten twice from the final row of the grid. This will be the seventh time Daly has started on the 11th row of the grid in his career.

CNBC's coverage of Honda Indy 200 from Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will begin at 2:00 p.m. ET with green flag scheduled for 2:45 p.m. ET. The race is scheduled for 90 laps.