Five Championship Contenders Break Out in Final Practice at Mid-Ohio; Power and Dixon Each Looking for Third Honda Indy 200 Pole

The final practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series at Mid-Ohio this weekend yielded impressive numbers. The top 16 cars out of the 22-car field ran laps faster than the track record. Remember that practice times do not count towards official track records, so we will just have to hope for a dry track and prime conditions this afternoon in qualifying. According to the current hourly forecasts, the potential for storms will move in during the 4:00 p.m. ET hour.

It’s also worth noting that the entire field of 22 cars was separated by 1.0424 seconds. Yes, less than a second-and-a-half from fastest to “slowest”. Have I mentioned recently how much I love this racing series?

JGS_4145-1Five of the top six drivers in the Championship hunt went one step further in their fast lap attempts: Scott Dixon (CGRT, No. 9 Target Chevy), Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske, No. 22 PPG Chevy), Will Power (Team Penske, No. 12 Verizon Chevy) Josef Newgarden (Ed Carpenter Racing, No. 21 Fuzzy’s Chevy), and Tony Kanaan (CGRT, No. 10 NTT Data Chevy) all broke the 1:04 mark.

Dixon came out on top again in this third practice session, where the entire field found their fastest times of the weekend. He will be in Group 2 for qualifying, a mostly Honda-dominated group. He is joined by Power who was fastest overall on Friday, teammate Kanaan, Graham Rahal (RLL Racing, No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda), James Hinchcliffe (SPM Racing, No. 5 Arrow Honda), Sebastien Bourdais (KVSH Racing, No. 11 Hydroxycut Chevy), Mikhail Aleshin (SPM Racing, No. 7 SMP Honda), newcomer RC Enerson (Dale Coyne Racing, No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda) in his IndyCar debut, Alexander Rossi (Andretti Herta Autosport, No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda) Conor Daly (Dale Coyne Racing, No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda), and Takuma Sato (AJ Foyt Racing, No. 14 ABC Supply Honda).

With seven Hondas and four Chevys in Group 2, we are guaranteed at least 2 Hondas advancing from this Group, into Round 2. My guesses are Hinchcliffe and hometown boy, Graham Rahal.

The points leader, Pagenuad leads us into Group 1. This group is Chevy dominant and also includes Newgarden, Max Chilton (CGRT, No. 8 Gallagher Chevy), Charlie Kimball (CGRT, No.83 Tresiba Chevy), Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport, No. 28 DHL Honda), Juan Pablo Montoya (Team Penske, No.2 Hawk Performance Chevy), Helio Castroneves (Team Penske, No. 3 Hitachi Chevy), Spencer Pigot (ECR, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy), Carlos Munoz (Andretti Autosport, No. 26 Honda), Jack Hawksworth (AJ Foyt Racing, No. 41 ABC Supply Honda), and Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport, No.27 Snapple Honda).

Verizon IndyCar Series track times for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio:

Friday, July 29:
Practice #1 – 10:00 – 11:15 a.m. ET
Practice #2 – 2:00 – 3:15 p.m. ET

Saturday, July 30:
Practice #3 – 9:45 – 10:30 a.m. ET
Quals – 2:00 – 3:15 p.m. ET

Sunday, July 17:
Warm Up – 10:15 – 10:45 a.m. ET
Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Race – 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. E.T.

The Honda Indy 200 Practice #2 and Qualifying will be broadcast live on NBCSN. The race will be broadcast live on CNBC. Practice sessions #1 & #3 will be livestreamed via IndyCar. All links to livestream, plus information on radio coverage is available here.

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Feature photo: Joe Skibinksi / IndyCar 

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