Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

Today’s question: What intrigues you the most about the debut of the hybrid unit this weekend in The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by the 2025 Civic Hybrid?

Curt Cavin: Where to begin? Yes, there have been some 31,000 miles of testing of INDYCAR’s new energy recovery system, but do we really know how drivers will use it in competition? I’ve listened to about half of the 30 drivers who have tested it speak to its nuances, and it seems each one of them has described a different approach. It will be great that NBC and the INDYCAR Mobile App will have graphics that show when a driver is deploying it. Initially, it will be a lot to digest, but for that reason alone it will be intriguing. I suspect there will be comers and goers as the drivers work to maximize its effect. Will it favor one manufacturer or another, one team or another, one driver over a teammate? Surely, it will, and that will be fascinating to watch.

Eric Smith: I find the ability for the drivers to restart the car themselves if they stall the engine to be a fascinating aspect. For starters, that reduces the need for the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team to be deployed, meaning less personnel on a hot racetrack. Also, in pit lane if a driver stalls the vehicle pulling out of their pit box, the driver can refire the car without the need of a crew member leaping over the wall with a starter in hard to refire the car with other cars in the tight confines of pit lane speeding around them. Safety comes into play with this tool. Also, a driver being able to refire their machinery should result in more green-flag action than the need to display caution. I think of the instance of the caution to retrieve the stalled car of Marcus Armstrong at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Armstrong would be able to refire his car inside the cockpit and continue without the need for a caution. This could be a game-changer in that aspect.

Paul Kelly: Like Curt said, there are so many unknowns about how the hybrid will affect the racing that there are many legitimate and relevant answers to this question. My biggest wonder is if the hybrid system will make the execution of very tricky, but winning, fuel-saving strategies for tactical masters like Scott Dixon easier or tougher? Will The Iceman have an even bigger edge over his rivals when he and strategist Mike Hull concoct their strategic alchemy on the fly during a race? Will this give Dixon an edge in the race for the Astor Challenge Cup in the second half of the season? Or do the strategic options created by the hybrid level the field somewhat or allow other drivers to use the additional tools to pull off improbable wins like Dixon does seemingly on a routine basis? Understanding how to best use the hybrid won’t be a book that will be completely written this Sunday, but I can’t wait to see the first chapter at Mid-Ohio.