The clear cloud-free sky in Lexington, OH yielded a clear incident-free practice session for the Verizon IndyCar Series on this gorgeous morning. The whole field headed out on the first lap and then came back in for adjustments. Some stayed longer than others, with some teams choosing to run minimal laps due to tire allotments. Tony Kanaan, driver of the No 10 Chip Ganassi Chevrolet, spoke on this after the session, explaining that the tire allotments are not a restriction of Firestone – they have produced plenty of tires for the series to use. The allotment per race was a decision of the Verizon IndyCar Series and sometimes the way the teams choose to deal with this, to save tires, is to run fewer laps during practice. Both Simon Pagenaud of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports & Kanaan lapped the course only 6 times. This seemed to work out better for one more than the other however – with Pagenaud running 2nd fastest and Kanaan ending up 20th.
Speaking of positions & ranking, Kanaan also addressed the expectations that were put on him and his team this season, after Dario Franchitti’s unexpected retirement due to a serious accident at the Houston doubleheader last season. He started out by addressing a question on how he viewed current IndyCar Champion, Scott Dixon’s year thus far: “I think everybody is allowed to have an ‘okay’ year.” He went on to say that it’s not quite fair with the level of competition in the series, to judge a driver for NOT having an exceptional year.
The Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has been famous for its exceptions the past two seasons with this series, creating an environment for caution-free racing which is well outside the norm with open-wheel racing. Could this year by three in a row? If this morning’s practice session is any indication… we might be in for another non-stop Verizon IndyCar Series race in Ohio!
The other thing that this course is famous for, is producing winners from Chip Ganassi Racing… the last five in a row, in fact. Dixon was the fastest of Ganassi’s four cars this AM – running third quickest. Andretti Autosport driver & current Indianapolis 500 Champion, Ryan Hunter-Reay topped the timing & scoring boards with Pagenaud as the runner-up. Everyone has been talking about whether Chip’s lucky track in central Ohio might finally give him the win that he and his team have been in search of in 2014.
Potentially, we could see Dixon with his 5th win here. We could see Briscoe with his 2nd. Charlie Kimball is the defending Champion here and looking to hold onto that title for another year. And Kanaan has made the podium multiple times this season, but is more than ready to stand atop it for the first time in 2014 and for the first time at Mid-Ohio. However it happens… if a Ganassi victory occurs in Ohio this weekend – it’s going to be a race to remember!
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I’ll be trackside all weekend bringing you live updates and fun event details… including the Indy Fans Tweet Up on Saturday at 5:30pm, hosted by IndyCar Driver & IndyCar Radio Correspondent, Pippa Mann & myself!