What mattered to the IndyCar: Saturday in Mid-Ohio
LEXINGTON, Ohio – A grid reshuffle for Sunday’s (July 4) Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will have NTT IndyCar Series fans looking for action in the 26-car realm.
While many could expect to see Josef Newgarden and Colton Herta in the front row and the next six cars packed with most of the usual suspects, the ninth and 10th places were a few drivers with a lot at stake.
James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay haven’t had their best seasons in 2021. Both haven’t visited the victory lane since 2018 (Hinchcliffe in Iowa, Hunter-Reay in Detroit and Sonoma) and are looking to finalize their plans for 2022.
My contract is finished. I know Colton and Alex (Rossi) aren’t, ”Hinchcliffe said at the post-workout press conference Friday. “You have to read what you want in it. But there hasn’t been much discussion about 22, yet.
Hinchcliffe not only qualified ninth, but in the final practice session the # 29 Honda Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport finished fifth in the speed standings with Hunter-Reay in 13th.
Two mainstays of Indy auto racing have good days when they need them most, but it remains to be seen if that will translate into success on Sunday.
If the last practice session indicates who has a great race setup then many cars will be looking to make their way through the field in the course of 80 laps.
Many of the drivers in the first half of the peloton in the final practice session start far in the peloton, and their cars could very well find their way forward.
Romain Grosjean was third in practice but could only qualify 18th. Max Chilton was fourth in practice, but he starts 17th. Further down the order, Scott McLaughlin was ninth in practice but will start 14th and Pato O’Ward was 11th in practice but will start 20th.
However, Jack Harvey will be one of the more interesting cars to watch on race day. The No. 60 Honda Meyer Shank Racing spun in the first group of the first round of qualifying which knocked out the former Indy Lights winner at Mid-Ohio from the pursuit of the second round of qualifying.
Harvey’s fastest lap in 1 minute, 6.4515 seconds was the second fastest, but hindering another driver with a yellow flag meant his best time was now invalidated. Harvey moved from the top 12 to 23rd place.
Look for some of these drivers to progress in the race.
Jimmie Johnson’s IndyCar journey has been full of progressive wins. In Mid-Ohio, the seven-time NASCAR Cup champion slashed his fastest lap in Friday practice by 1.5 seconds, from 1 minute 9.8165 seconds to 1 minute, 8.2852 seconds .
While it is true that Johnson has been at the bottom of every practice session so far, the two-time Daytona 500 winner has resumed his IndyCar trade fairly well, finishing the final practice session just 1,174 seconds less. than the 25th. Dalton Kellet.
Johnson will start on Sunday 25.
It’s a comeback race for Rinus VeeKay and Felix Rosenqvist.
The young pair were excluded from IndyCar competition due to injury and both were cleared to compete by INDYCAR in the week leading up to Mid-Ohio.
VeeKay broke his collarbone in the week leading up to Mid-Ohio while Rosenqvist suffered a throttle and hit the tire barrier in the first of two races in Detroit, leading the Swede to miss the second Detroit race as well as Road America.
VeeKay would qualify 11th with Rosenqvist two places in the standings, just 0.1445 seconds out of the first qualifying round.
Both drivers struggled in the last few tests with VeeKay 19th and Rosenqvist 22nd. Both have been successful in Mid-Ohio before, with VeeKay winning both Indy Pro 2000 races in 2018, while Rosenqvist nearly won in 2019, chasing Scott Dixon at the end of that race and nearly bypassing the 2008 winner from Indianapolis. 500.
Going down towards the road to Indy, the Indy Lights points lead changed hands again. Kyle Kirkwood won his fifth race of the season and is two points ahead of David Malukas who himself has four wins.
This was Kirkwood’s 26th Road to Indy victory and brings him closer to being the only driver to claim all three Road to Indy scholarships since the founding of Road to Indy in 2010.
In Indy Pro 2000, Christian Rasmussen won his sixth race of the 2021 season, extending his lead to 34 points over 2019 USF2000 champion Braden Eves who finished in fifth place. If Rasmussen can keep the momentum going, he will win the scholarship to switch to Indy Lights after winning last season’s USF2000 Championship.
At USF2000, Kiko Porto moved past his loss on Friday to claim a flag-to-flag victory, his third win of the 2021 season and increase his points advantage to 32 points over Michael of Orlando.
All three Road to Indy Championships will have a race on Sunday morning before the Indy Lights and Indy Pro 2000 race at the World Wide Technology Raceway in Gateway in late August.
The Honda Indy 200 will air Sunday, July 4 on NBC at noon. Green Flag time will be 12:05 p.m. ET.