The Tale Of Two Mid Ohio’s – How Will Power Secures Championship Chances
Last Sunday showed how one’s fortunes on the track can translate into championship winning drives. Every race at the end of a season carries greater significance in competitive season championship races for the simple fact that EVERY POINT COUNTS.
Last year at Mid Ohio, Will Power was on his way to try and secure his first championship after having a couple of good races on which he was able to tighen up the points differential between him and his chief rival, Dario Franchitti. But last year, one would argue, was the one race on which he lost the championship for a second time to the driver from Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
This excerpted and edited from “… notes from The EDJE” –
No Magic For Power In Round 11 Of 17 At Mid-Ohio
By Edmund Jenks – Monday, August 8, 2011
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, Round 11 of 17 delivered a fatal blow to Will Power’s chances at getting his first IndyCar Series (ICS) season championship. The Verizon Penske Racing Dallara driver, who was on track to get the ICS championship last year up until the final race of the season when Dario Franchitti was able to eclipse Power’s season points total, was looking to climb back into the challenge at 38 points behind and a perfect track for his talents, was caught out twice in pit stop strategy by full course cautions.
“We were making great fuel mileage and we were going to go a lap or two longer than the leaders on the second stop, which would have put us in great position to challenge for the race lead in the last stint,” said Power of the Lap 58 incident involving contact between the cars of Graham Rahal and Danica Patrick. “Basically, today we suffered for doing a great job of driving a smart race. We just got caught out by that last yellow flag.”
This dropped Power to P16 and allowed Target Chip Ganassi team-mates to duke it out for the win with Scott Dixon passing Dario Franchitti on a restart to eventually take the win.
It may have been doubtful if Will Power had anything for the Scott Dixon Dallara because of how well the driver and car had been hooked up all weekend long (fastest Lap – 1:09.1271 / 76), but to finish so far down in the order with a competitive car (set 2nd fastest lap late in the race – 1:09.2376 / 85), placed a stake through the heart (a loss of 24 points against Franchitti – at 62 points behind) of Will Power’s chances for a ICS season championship. In fact, with the points Scott Dixon gained with his win (he is now just 29 points behind Power with six races left), Will Power may not even become a repeat “bridesmaid” (runner-up) at season’s end in 2011.
This brings us to Mid Ohio 2012, Round 12 of 15, where Will Power is in contest for the championship for a third year in a row and he enters this late season road course race much as he did last year. Power was displaced by Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay and Penske Racing team mate Helio Castroneves by 26 points and 3 points respectively.
As Power put it just after the first practice on Friday as the weekend began, “This new DW12 Indy car feels great here – lot’s more power and more downforce – you can really get after a lap. We’re bloody determined to get the pole here tomorrow. I think the entire Verizon 12 Chevy Team is very happy with today and the results. The weather is going to change a lot over the next day or so. It was good to get a fast clean lap and get confidence going into tomorrow. For the rest of the year we need to win poles and win races if we are going to win the Championship, it’s pretty simple. We need to run well and fast to make up ground in the points race.”
The Penske team delivered the best of all results providing that Will Power did not win the race. By securing the pole position in the Firestone Fast Six on Saturday, running the most laps during the race, and finishing P2 behind last year’s race winning driver, Target Chip Ganassi’s Scott Dixon (who, by winning, became the 10th most successful driver in IndyCar history), Will was able to come away with the IZOD IndyCar Series Championship points lead by 5 points.
This excerpted and edited from Pressdog –
Welcome to Mid-Ohio. Holy confusion! We got the NBC Sports Network team calling the race but it’s on ABC. Here’s the deal: ABC had the time slot, but not the people to do the race what with NASCAR Nationwide in Iowa and NASCAR Cup in Pocono. NBC Sports Network had the team to do the race but not the air time since the Olympics is taking up every second of their air. So .. BANG, the two worked together.
Pursuant to Rule 15.6.1, Cars 3 and 98 penalized 10 grid spots. Pursuant to Rule 22.214.171.124.1, Car 3 will start on Primary Tires. (Rule 126.96.36.199.1 says: “Within 30 minutes of the completion of final practice, an Entrant must declare via instant message system to INDYCAR which compound it intends to use at the start of the Race. Failure to comply will result in the Entrant being allocated the compound by INDYCAR.”)
Chassis: D=Dallara | Engine: C=Chevy, H=Honda, L=Lotus | Tire: F=Firestone
Bob Jenkins, Jon Beekhuis and Wally Dallenbach Jr. in the booth. Pit pees are Kevin Lee, Townsend Bell and Marty Snider. Let’s light this candle.
We’re … GREEN.
Festival of Three Wide into the first few turns. Nobody get bashed! We’re through cleanly. The Circus Clowns are visibly upset that they didn’t get to make an appearance.
Wilson has slight contact with Barichello and goes off, but keeps it fired and whips it around and back under way. Lot of dirt-tracky sliding out there. Simona De Silvestro and her pigged out Lotus even get some love for navigating the slick-ish track well.
Lap 3 — Servia may be toast. He’s being worked on. Replay of Wilson popping into Rubens and then going ass around. One of them racing deals. JoeNew is up four positions and Conway also up four positions in the first three laps.
Kevin tells us JoeNew has never raced here before, ever, but liked the track after the first practices.
Lap 5 — Bourdais goes to the power to pass and inhales RHR. Jon gives a viewing-enhancing explanation. The deal is, IndyCar put a five second delay on Power to Pass for this race. When a driver hits the button, the other teams won’t know he’s on the Power to Pass until it actually activates, at which time it will be too late for the car in front to use P2P to defend. That’s the thinking, anyway. Worked like a charm for Bourdais on RHR.
Lot of overtaking in the early going, especially for Mid-Ohio. Extreme amounts of overtaking for Mid-Ohio.
Marty says RHR says something is wrong with his car and he’s being inhaled. Marty says he’s also in fuel saving mode. Jon said the drivers can’t go full rich here because of … wait for it … fuel strategy. YAY!
Lap 6 — Bourdais is on the button (Power to Pass) again and round the outside of JoeNew. CLEAR. More televised overtaking.
Lap 7 — Wilson overtakes Viso. Wilson has driven from P24 to P18 in about five laps after his spin.
Lap 7 — Pitting starting. Cars that are going on a three pit-stop strategy will start pitting now. Those on a two pit stop strategy will pit around lap 28. This race is going to be about comparing and contrasting the one-stoppers versus the two-stoppers.
Lap 9 — Helio pits to ditch primary tires and go to alternates. Alternates are allegedly more grippy but don’t last as long as primary tires. Replays of a pit guy almost getting his foot run over by another car coming in due to the tiny pit stalls.
Lap 10 — Power, Dario, Pagenaud, Dixon, Bourdais, Newgarden, RHR, Marco, Briscoe, Rubens.
Lap 11 — Kevin says Graham Rahal wants to get a deal done for 2013 in the next couple weeks. Rahal has sponsor cash and is shopping it around to teams, I guess. Not real fond of being one of the Ganassi Death Star Satellite teams, allegedly.
Lap 13 — Viso got a drive-through penalty for speeding on pit lane. Bob says Sato got one two but the race summary says NO. No penalty listed for Sato.
Lap 15 — Festival of lock step sets in here. Pagenaud working on Dario for P2. Marty says Dario says his front tires are shit (paraphrasing).
Justin Wilson in. Right rear tire changer has issues! Major long stop. JWill not happy. The right rear must be beeeeyotch to get on this car because we’ve had about five right rear tire change issues so far this year alone.
I see a Ferris Wheel in the background. Crowd driver!* (*Denotes sarcasm and/or chagrin)
Lap 18 — Ed Carpenter is up six spots … (all due to pit stops in front of him).
Replay of Rubens under Marco … CLEAR. Jon says Dario is on the button! Has used 25 seconds of his 100 allotment. Bog hits us with the points-as-they-run info for the first time today. WITH ONLY THREE RACES LEF.
Lap 20 — Power, Dario, Pagenaud, Dixon, Bourdais, Newgarden, RHR, Briscoe, Rubens, Marco.
Lap 21 — Simona pits. Sticker blacks. Wally says a three-stopper is good strategy to keep fresher tires on the car as well, something I had not thought about. Viewing enhanced.
Power is 3.1 seconds ahead. Driving with his feet while eating a Vegemite sandwich.
More lock stepping here.
Lap 26 — JoeNew is P6. Pits and gets primaries. Was as high as P5. The two-stoppers will start to pit now.
Power may have dialed it back because he’s lost two seconds Dario.
Lap 27 — Dario pits with Pagenaud and others. Power, Dixon and Bourdais stay out.
Lap 28 — Power, Dixon and Bourdais pit. Power and Dixon come back out P1 and P2. Bourdais back out in P4 behind Hinch who is a three-stopper. Dario slouches to P6.
Festival of three wide as cars overtake struggling Briscoe.
Lap 32 — TK overtakes Bourdais. Bourdais stayed out until the leaders pit and TK is a three-stopper, so TK will have to pit soon.
Three Stop vs. Two Stop has evolved into The Big Story. If it stays green the whole way, the three-stoppers are screwed.
Lap 34 — Dixon is pressing Power. Eyebrows raised. Is power “saving fuel?” Hmmm. Both may be saving fuel. Jon said both are “racing to a fuel number.” Go about your business; nothing to see her except exhibition fuel saving driving.
Lap 35 — Power, Dixon, Bourdais, Dario, Pagenaud, Tagliani, RHR, Briscoe, JR, Newgarden.
Lap 38 — Bourdais hanging around in third. Dario moved up to P4 when cars in front of him made pit stops.
Rahal overtakes Sato … for P18. Briscoe and Newgarden fight for P8.
Lap 41 — Wilson has another crap pit stop. Loses SEVEN spots in the pits.
Still no yellows. Back-to-back yellowless IndyCar races? Last happened in 1987.
Lap 44 — Panther claims — via Twitter — that Briscoe is throwing a block party for JR. They have reported same to the authorities.
Lap 51 — John raises the possibility that people lie on their radio and to the media about if they have enough fuel to make it. Nooooo. I’m SHOCKED* (*I am actually not shocked.)
Marty says RHR has no power. RHR is slowing down. Misfiring. Engine is a festival of shit. RHR is getting inhaled by everyone.
Lap 57 — Power, Dixon, Bourdais and Dario (P1-4) all pit together. This could be the race … Dixon out first. Dixon bests Power out. P1. P1. Second race in a row the ultimate pass for what should be the win happened on pitting. This time it was actually in the pits. Bourdais back out in P3. Replays. Dixon Fueler had a fraction of a second harder time getting in there.
Lap 57 — Jon calls it “definitely a defining moment” of the race. True.
Lap 59 — Dario bashes into the back of JR as he was trying to overtake. Dario swung out and hit is wing on the rear wheel guards. Will have to pit for a new nose.
Lap 60 –Dixon, Power, Bourdais, Bagenaud, Dixon, Hinch, JR, Newgarden, TK, Tag.
Lap 61 — RHR into the gravel, gives it the dirt track slide and keeps it going. Back onto the rack. No yellow. Impressive job there.
Bourdais also did some off-roading. Actually cooked a corner and let Pagenaud under him on Lap 61.
Bell says it’s easy when you are used to judging passes based on how close you are to the rear gear box to forget the wheel guard things which stick back another foot until you pull out to pass and clip them.
Replay of RHR. Tapped by Sato and went into the dirt track mode.
Lap 64 — Marty says RHR’s engine’s fuel injectors are injecting too much fuel, making it misfire, etc.
Dario gets a new wing and is back out. Jay Penske gets air. JAY PENSKE. When Jay gets air you know we got some time on our hands. Next they will talk to Sarah Fisher, right before the sun freezes and drops from the sky.
Lap 73 — Dixon is three seconds up. Will win barring air strike or horrid fuel calculations.
Kevin says Pagenaud’s people are not sure if he can make it on fuel.
Lap 75 — Dixon, Power, Pag, Bourdais, Hinch, JR, TK, Jakes, Marco, Briscoe.
Lap 76 — RHR pits. Pull the engine cover. Can’t fix it easily. Send him back out. He limps around until there’s no more positions to lose then comes in and calls it a race. Jon makes a good observation that by doing that he can claim the engine issue cost him a DNF and won’t have to pay a 10-grid-spot penalty to replace it because it technically blew during the race.
Lock step. Dixon told to conserve just in case.
Lap 81 — Dixon, Power, Pag, Bourdais, Hinch, TK, Maco, Briscoe, JR, Tag.
White flag. Dixon wins. Dixon, Power, Pagenaud, Bourdais, Hinch.
Wow. Last half of that race, not stirring. Just gotta be up front with you. Wasn’t putrid, by any means. There was some overtaking well back in the pack and Bourdais choked away P3, but other than that … The race was caution free, first time IndyCar had back-to-back zero-yellow races since 1987 per IndyCar PR.
Again, pretty classic road course stuff. Fuel saving, some overtaking in the pack (amazing for Mid-Ohio), strategy (two-stop vs. three-stop). A lot of people would hold this race up as “proper road racing.” Whether or not you dig that is a matter of personal choice and preference, for sure.
IZOD IndyCar Series – Honda Indy 200 – LEXINGTON, Ohio
Results Sunday of the Honda Indy 200 IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 2.258 mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (4) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
2. (1) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
3. (3) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
4. (6) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
5. (15) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
6. (18) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
7. (5) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
8. (8) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
9. (12) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
10. (14) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
11. (21) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
12. (9) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
13. (17) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
14. (24) Giorgio Pantano, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
15. (13) Rubens Barrichello, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
16. (23) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
17. (2) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
18. (11) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
19. (20) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
20. (19) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevy, 85, Running
21. (16) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 85, Running
22. (25) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 84, Running
23. (22) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Lotus, 83, Running
24. (7) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 79, Mechanical
25. (10) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevy, 78, Running
Winners average speed: 115.379
Time of Race: 01:39:48.5083
Margin of victory: 3.4619
Lead changes: 2
Power 1 – 57
Hinchcliffe 58 – 59
Dixon 60 – 85
Point Standings: Power 379, Hunter-Reay 374 (-5), Castroneves 353 (-21), Dixon 351 (-23), Hinchcliffe 316 (-58), Pagenaud 311 (-63), Kanaan 307, Franchitti 271, Briscoe 267, Rahal 256.
Results and lap chart courtesy of IndyCar PR.
That’s it for Mid-Ohio. Tune in again in three weeks for the race at Sonoma. Aug. 26 at 4:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.
With only three races left, two road/street courses (Sonoma and Baltimore) and one super speedway oval (Fontana) will this be Will Power’s year? As Will said himself at Mid Ohio, “For the rest of the year we need to win poles and win races if we are going to win the Championship, it’s pretty simple.”
Going into Mid Ohio 26 points behind and coming out of Mid Ohio with a 5 point lead, the magic is back in the hopes for Power’s first championship after being the bridesmaid for two consecutive years.
… notes from The EDJE