We just finished Christmas in July and the reds and greens have been battling all day at Mid-Ohio, so a paraphrased Elf quote seemed to be the way to go with the post title. Plus, I’m a movie nerd that likes to talk to movie quotes, so there’s that.
Four reds waved over the Verizon IndyCar Series practice session on this Friday afternoon, bringing the grand total to seven at Mid-Ohio today. The first one came 5 minutes in when Zach Veach, racing an Indy car on his home track for the first time, went off course in Turn 6 with the No. 26 Relay Andretti Autosport Honda. Josef Newgarden did the same thing with his No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevy in Turn 12, thankfully avoiding any kind of contact with other cars or barriers. Both cars were able to be restarted by the AMR Safety Team and made it back to the pits under their own power.
Jack Harvey unfortunately though, needed a tow back when he drew the third red of the session after going off-roading with the No. 60 AutoNation MSR/SPM Honda in Turn 10.
Will Power’s red flag incident was probably the most adventurous of the day, getting loose in Turn 4 and skimming over China Beach, even catching a little air before coming to a rest in the grass. That was the fourth and final red flag of the session, bringing the total to seven as mentioned earlier. I know seven is a lucky number for a lot of people but I’m not feeling it.
It’s been quite some time since we’ve seen so much stop-and-go in practice sessions. It gives me reason to be kind of concerned for the rest of the weekend, but hey these guys are the best in the business so I’m sure we will be fine. I just hope that the frequency of the reds is lessed tomorrow and especially Sunday. There was never any flow on Friday, and Mr. Mid-Ohio Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Ganassi Honda) commented on it afterwards,
“I think we made gains here and there but tonight will be a lot of work to figure out what we can get out of the car. Practice was tough with all the reds. And the amount of push-to-pass across the board makes it hard to gage real lap times.”
Indeed it does. Ryan Hunter-Reay was fastest in the afternoon but even he admitted that they have a lot to get done to compete in qualifying tomorrow with their No. 28 DHL Andretti Andretti Honda,
“Having not tested here, I thought we would be on the backfoot. I think we were pretty patient with it today, but tomorrow we’re gonna have to make it much better. We have a good baseline, but I know Scott will be charging to the front.”
That’s a safe bet, but Dixon doesn’t gloss over anything, and he was happy to remind us that in recent years they’ve had a rough run here. He finished P9 last year and P4 the year prior, explaining that the No. 9 crew has been able to find speed but not consistency. The last time they won at Mid-Ohio was in 2015 – also the year of Dixon’s most recent championship title. As he attempts to earn his fifth, you would think he’d feel pretty confident going into this event with the points lead but there is a reason we call him The Iceman. His ability to keep a level head throughout all situations is admirable. He reminds us yet again that the level of competition is “insane” this year, in combination with the ebb and flow we normally see in the final rounds of the season, there is a high probability of things changing drastically and very quickly throughout the field.
I’m wondering if some of those ebbs and flows will show up in tomorrow’s qualifying rounds. We saw some unpredictability in the first few rounds of Toronto due to precipitation, but here at Mid-Ohio those kind of elements could come from the track itself.