Marcus Ericsson

Today’s question: Who will win The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by the 2023 Accord Hybrid this Sunday, June 28?

Curt Cavin: I consulted the racing gods, and they’re in agreement that while tracks never owe a competitor, Pato O’Ward deserves a Mid-Ohio break this time around. The driver of the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet led the first 28 laps of last year’s race before things started to mechanically go awry, and he never regained control. The issues culminated with a slow roll from the pit box during the final stop, and it was painful to watch a helpless machine that had been so strong over the course of the weekend. Three weeks later, O’Ward won the second race of the Hy-Vee INDYCAR Weekend at Iowa Speedway, but what happened to him at Mid-Ohio wasn’t fair. So, those racing gods owe him one. He also needs a win to get back into solid championship contention.

Joey Barnes: Well, if you believe in numerology but are tired of seeing Alex Palou on his ridiculous roll, I’ve got bad news for you. The Spaniard finished third at Mid-Ohio in 2021 and followed it up with a runner-up last year, so in theory, he’s only got one more spot to climb. However, it rarely works that way, and I think the passes are going to get increasingly harder for him as his rivals attempt to reel back that massive championship lead of his – such as the contact he and Josef Newgarden made early in the race at Road America that could have easily ended in tears for one or both of them. Considering how, I think, differently Palou might be raced this weekend, I am actually leaning on taking his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson, who sits second in the title picture and is hungry to close that 74-point gap. The Swede has also been strong at the 2.258-mile, 13-turn natural terrain road course with his last three starts there being a fifth (2020, Race 2), second (2021) and a sixth (2022). I believe this weekend is crucial for Ericsson to make some noise, so he does so by going elbows out and bringing some fireworks of his own this Fourth of July weekend.

Paul Kelly: It’s starting to feel like now or never for Scott Dixon, isn’t it? The Iceman is a notorious charger in the second half of the season, his 2020 title-winning year – when he shot from the gate with three straight wins – notwithstanding. He has recorded 31 of his 53 career victories after July 1, and this year’s edition of the annual INDYCAR SERIES race at Mid-Ohio is Sunday, July 2. So, there’s one fact in his favor. Dixon also has six career victories at Mid-Ohio, twice as many as any other driver in history. That’s another fact in his favor. Dixon is fifth in the standings, 98 points behind leader Alex Palou, his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate. There’s no time like the present for him to start what will need to be a massive second-half surge to catch Palou and match A.J. Foyt with a record-tying seventh INDYCAR SERIES championship. Add up his track record at the little rollercoaster of a road course near Columbus, Ohio, and the fact Dixon heats like sun-baked asphalt during the summer races, and he will earn his first victory of the season this Sunday.