IndyCar Preview and Predictions: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
This year the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is celebrating its 50th year of racing. Mid-Ohio was built by Mansfield-area businessman Les Griebling as a place for sports car racing in 1962. This Sunday, the IndyCar Series will make their annual stop to the course, where there is sure to be some exciting racing.
It should be noted that a driver who has finished on the podium at Mid-Ohio has gone on to win the championship each of the past three seasons. Defending race winner Dario Franchitti and defending pole winner Will Power will once again go head-to-head as the two fight for the championship again in 2011.
In the four races that IndyCar has run here, Team Penske has won the pole for every one of them. Unfortunately for them, it hasn’t translated to wins, as they have just one. The other three winners, of course, were all driven by Chip Ganassi cars.
Pole Winner: Will Power
This one shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. Power has completely dominated qualifying like no one we have ever seen before. Everyone knows he is going to contend for the pole every weekend, especially at road/street courses.
When he starts up front, it is almost impossible for others to get around him. Don't be surprised if this is another sweep for the Australian driver, taking both the pole and the win. We have seen him do that multiple times.
First to Crash: Takuma Sato
I could go with the first-time rookie Martin Plowman from Tamworth, England, here, but I won’t. Plowman will be driving the No. 17 car for AFS/SSM Racing.
Instead, I will be choosing a KV Racing Technology car at random. For this one, I will go with Takuma Sato. Although he has won two pole awards this season, Sato still needs to learn how to finish the race without getting into trouble. Unfortunately, he and teammate EJ Viso often find trouble at some point during the race.
Dark Horse: Alex Tagliani
Don't count out Tagliani from this race. Last year was his first trip to this road course, and he did extremely well for himself. Not only did he lead 30 laps in the race, he finished in fourth place, just missing the podium.
Perhaps nobody needs a better finish than Tags, as he took out Graham Rahal on the first lap two weeks ago in Edmonton. It was supposed to be a great day for the driver who was racing so close to home. He was hit with a penalty and Graham showed him his frustration.
Third Place: Ryan Briscoe
Briscoe has had a difficult and frustrating season so far. He has been taken out on more than one occasion, been at the wrong place at the wrong time during other people’s incidents, and had a car capable of winning the Indianapolis 500 in May, only to find the wall in the morning practice session before qualifying on Pole Day.
Briscoe has had some success here, though, as he started in second place in 2008 and went on to win the race. In 2009 he won the pole and finished second. Last year, he started in seventh and came home in sixth. I think he will finally begin to see the results that this team is capable of.
I believe Briscoe can narrowly beat out Scott Dixon for the final podium spot, but it won't be easy. Dixon has won this race two times, and he has finished on the podium in three of the four races here.
Second Place: Dario Franchitti
The defending race winner here will lose a few points to Will Power in the championship standings, but it won't be significant. I believe Dario and Will are going to be up front for most of the day, which shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.
Dario has raced here three times, and has finished on the podium every single time. He finished in second in 2007, third in 2009, and of course won the race last year. That’s a pretty good batting average if you ask me.
The championship battle will tighten up ever so slightly as these two continue their epic battle.
Winner: Will Power
That's right, I see Power starting the race in first, and finishing there as well. If anyone can pull of the weekend sweep, it is definitely this guy. Grabbing the pole and finishing ahead of Franchitti is going to be key for this team if they want to take the championship this year.
Power has only raced here twice in the IndyCar Series, but he has tested here many times. In his first race in 2008, Power finished in fourth place. Last year, he won the pole and finished in second, just behind Franchitti. He won’t let that happen two years in a row.