This weekend the NTT IndyCar Series, hits the tricky Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The 2.258 mile road course will play host to round 13 of the 2019 calender, the Honda Indy 200.
Following last week's Iowa 300, Josef Newgarden dominated. Leading 245 laps the Hendersonville, Tennessee driver now has opened up a 29 point lead on his closet title competitor Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi. However, Mid-Ohio will serve to be a defining race in the 2019 calender as the top three in points (Newgarden, Rossi and Simon Pagenaud) have won the last three events at the course. Rossi, who comes into the weekend as the race's defending winner, struggled last week at Iowa.
The Auburn, California driver returns to his familiar grounds this week, as both of his wins this season have come on the road and street courses. Three of the five remaining races take place on road courses, a place where both Rossi and Pagenaud have flexed their muscles this year. The two drivers will look to use their road course advantages to gain grown on Newgarden, before the season concludes in Laguna Seca.
If the bookies in Las Vegas had to pick a statistical favourite, look no further that Scott Dixon. The Auckland, New Zealand driver has a record five wins at Mid-Ohio, leading 201 laps over those five victories. Dixon also holds the record of worst staring position for a race winner, in 2014 Dixon started 22nd.
Here a few storylines to follow for the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Enerson makes 2019 debut
For the first time since 2016, RC Enerson will be back behind the wheel of an IndyCar. In a deal with Carlin Racing, Enerson will be behind the wheel of the No.31 for the team. In 2016, Enerson started three events for Dale Coyne Racing scoring a best finish of 9th at Watkins Glen. After testing with Carlin in February, Enerson is elated to get the opportnity to return to IndyCar's top level.
“We’ve been working really hard to get something together to get me back in the seat at some point this season, and I couldn’t be happier that it’s all come together for Mid-Ohio,” Enerson said. “Mid-Ohio has always been one of my favorite tracks on the schedule. I’ve just always loved the elevation changes and all of the high-speed flowing corners.”
Veach riding wave of momentum
Following his season best finish of seventh last week in Iowa, Zach Veach is ready to ride the wave of momentum into his home track. The Stockdale, Ohio native, finished 10th last year and looks to improve on wht has already been a standout season. Charging from 20th all the way to the top ten at Iowa, Veach has high expectations for Mid-Ohio.
We still want to get that podium and get a win, but we'll take what we have and go to Mid-Ohio,” he said. “We had a top 10 there last year and came close to qualifying in the (Firestone) Fast Six, so if we could add on to that, it would be amazing.”
Championship points battle heating up in Mid-Ohio
With the top three drivers separtated by only 58 points, it is clear the 2019 season will go the distance come Laguna Seca. With Newgarden, Rossi and Pagenaud in a tight knit battle, every lap, every race and every points matters.
Mid-Ohio serves as a clean slate for the top three as all of them have run well there in the past. With outsider Dixon lurking 98 points back, the Ganassi Racing driver will look to play spoiler and break up the dominance displayed by the top three.
2019 is shaping up to be an epic championship battle, IndyCar fans will be on the edge of their seat all season long. The green flag for the Honda Indy 200 will drop at 4:05 p.m. July 28.