Will Power’s spin in a duel with fellow NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon for fourth place early in Sunday’s The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by HPD Ridgeline was one thing, but how the rest of the field reacted to the Turn 5 incident was something to behold.
Power’s No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet was helplessly and perilously turned around facing traffic cresting over a blind corner amid a cloud of tire smoke, and nearly 20 trailing cars scrambled as best they could. About half went to Power’s right, the other to his left. Inside the stopped car, Power surely was holding his breath. Fortunately, only one car hit him, although that impact was reasonably fierce.
Ed Jones and his No. 18 SealMaster Honda of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan had nowhere to go, slamming Power’s car with the left front wheel. Fortunately, neither driver was seriously injured, although Power emerged from the medical center with a wrist wrapped and sore.
“I foolishly left my hands on the wheel when there’s all that smoke,” Power said. “A good lesson (learned) there.”
Initial inspection revealed no broken bones, and Power will have a month to recover as the next race, the inaugural Big Machine Music City Grand Prix in Nashville, Tennessee, is Aug. 6-8.
Power and Dixon had traded the position twice ahead of the Lap 4 spin. When they arrived at Turn 5, Power ran his left-side tires onto the curb and appeared to have light contact with Dixon’s car. From there, it was a scary slide in front of charging competitors.
Power thought Dixon “squeezed” him in the corner, but he also said tire selection for he and Dixon to begin the race also played a role.
“I slowed up a lot to make sure I didn’t hit him,” Power said of Dixon. “He squeezed me that tight; it was impossible (to avoid contact). My car was on the curb. Man, it sucks.
“I should have known (Dixon) would be aggressive because he was on reds (Firestone alternate tires) and I was on blacks (Firestone primary tires), so he really wanted to get by. That’s what you get when you choose blacks, right? People are going to attack you pretty hard.”
Said Dixon: “We had to get past Will. At no point did I want to take anybody out. It was just a racing incident. We were pushing hard.”
The battle was reminiscent of last year’s tussle between the two drivers in the same part of the track, which Dixon, which got the worst of that situation, obviously hadn’t forgotten.
“I gave Will a bunch of room on the outside (last year), and he kind of ran me off the track there,” Dixon said. “I didn’t do anything on purpose (this time), and I’m sorry for his day not turning out.”
Dixon finished fourth in Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda, losing three points to teammate Alex Palou (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) in pursuit of his record-tying seventh NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship. Dixon remains third in the standings, 56 points behind series leader Palou. Power fell to 11th in the standings, 175 points out of the lead.
Early Troubles for Andretti Autosport
In last year’s visit to Mid-Ohio, Andretti Autosport swept the top three finishing positions in the second race of the doubleheader with Colton Herta, Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay, respectively. Sunday, Michael Andretti’s team had no such results.
Hunter-Reay got hit from behind in the first corner of the race by teammate James Hinchcliffe (No. 29 #ShiftToGreen Honda), sending his No. 28 DHL Honda spinning into the grass in Turn 4. Herta, who qualified second in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda, was still in that position when he made his first pit stop. But the fueling mechanism malfunctioned, costing him at least 15-18 additional seconds.
That wasn’t Herta’s only trouble. The No. 26 Gainbridge Honda stalled leaving the pit box on his second stop, costing him even more time. At race’s end, he was 13th in a 26-car field.
Rossi finished fifth in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda, his best result of the season after three seventh places.
Hinchcliffe finished 17th, Hunter-Reay 24th. The team still has only one race win this season: Herta’s in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the second race of the year.
Odds and Ends
- Sunday’s INDYCAR race was Santino Ferrucci’s fourth of the season, and he has finished each in the top 10 in the No. 45 Hy-Vee Honda of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. His ninth-place finish Sunday followed two sixths and a 10th.
- Romain Grosjean’s first INDYCAR season continues to be productive. He finished seventh Sunday in the No. 51 NURTEC ODT Honda of Dale Coyne Racing with RWR, his third top-10 finish in seven starts. He finished second in the road race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and fifth at Road America. Grosjean gained 11 spots from his starting position of 18th. Only Ferrucci (started 22nd, finished ninth) and Pato O’Ward (started 20th, finished eighth) gained more spots during the 80-lap race.
- First-time INDYCAR driver Ryan Norman (No. 52 KOINU INU/EVO Honda of Dale Coyne Racing with RWR) and fellow series rookie Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Carvana Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) had admirable performances, finishing only one lap off the lead lap despite the circuit being one of the shorter of the season. They finished 20th and 22nd, respectively.
- NHL star Jack Roslovic, a forward for the Columbus Blue Jackets, rode with racing icon Mario Andretti in the Ruoff Fastest Seat in Sports two-seat INDYCAR SERIES car before the race’s green flag. Roslovic, 24, is a native of Columbus, Ohio.
- Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood completed his sweep of the weekend’s Indy Lights races, pushing his season total to six wins, including five of the past six. He also reclaimed the series points lead with eight rounds remaining. Kirkwood leads David Malukas of HMD Motorsports by two points.
- Hunter McElrea of Pabst Racing won Sunday’s Indy Pro 2000 race, giving him two wins this season; series points leader Christian Rasmussen of Jay Howard Driver Development won the Saturday race. Seven rounds remain. Rasmussen’s advantage in the standings is 34 points over Braden Eves of Exclusive Autosport.
- Michael d’Orlando of Cape Motorsports finished off a stellar weekend in USF2000, winning his second of three races. He finished second to Kiko Porto of DEForce Racing in the Saturday race. D’Orlando has won three races this season, Porto two. Porto leads the standings by 32 points with five rounds remaining.