Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio was run on the classic racetrack between Columbus and Cleveland.
There were also five well-known names on the first five grids, where Alexander Rossi had taken his second Pole Position in his Verizon IndyCar series carreer. Will power started second, ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Josef Newgarden, and Robert Wickens.
Max Chilton surprisingly drove sixth best time. He was, however, lucky in the qualifying when James Hinchcliffe hit a tire barrier shortly before the session ended. Which meant established drivers such as Scott Dixon couldn’t set his last lap – and hence the championship leader would start the race from P9.
Pietro Fittipaldi was back to his first race since FIA WEC accident back in May, where he broke both legs. He qualified 22th out of 24 cars.
The race started with a chaotic start, where Rossi all of a sudden braked on the way to the green flag. It almost resulted in a big pile-up. Luckily there wasn’t any accident, though it caused some troubles through the field. The stewards chose, however, to approve the start.
Takuma Sato was spun around by Max Chilton on the second lap, so he lost a lot of positions. Chilton got a drive-through for the incident.
James Hinchcliffe brushed Zach Veach with his front wing, but luckily it didn’t cause a puncture to Veach.
The day got even worse for Chilton, when the mechanics couldn’t get the left front tire off the car. De had to grab another wheel-gun and it cost Chilton several seconds.
Sebastien Bourdais was flying after his first pitstop, and he overtook both Takuma Sato and Spencer Pigot from the outside – his car had that much extra grip.
Hinchcliffe and Ed Jones had a duel through several corners, where they banged wheels before Hinch fell back again.
Dixon was flying in the first twenty laps and slowly but surely worked his way up to fourth place, a few seconds after Rossi, Power, and Newgarden.
Graham Rahal had a little moment on the grass on Turn 1, where the local favourite had two wheels off the asphalt. But he got the car back on track.
Power was the first of the leaders to pit, and that meant Newgarden could come all the way up behind Rossi’s rearwing. With a bit of help from Push2Pass, the defending champion made it past. Right away after that both Dixon and Newgarden drove to the pits, while Rossi stayed on the track.
Simon Pagenaud also had been flying as he won nine positions in the first thirty laps of the race.
Rossi pitted after 31 laps and came out behind Newgarden, but merely centimetres ahead of Dixon. Rossi managed to hold his position on cold tires, with a very robust drive.
After everyone had pitted for the first time, Wickens led the race in front of Power, Hunter-Reay, and Newgarden. Although the first three were in a different pit strategy than Newgarden, Rossi, and Dixon.
Veach and Bourdais had a collision at Turn 4 under braking, but Bourdais still managed to get past.
Power pitted after 50 laps, and when he came out it was right in front of Newgarden. Newgarden dove really late at Turn 2, and if Power didn’t move away there would certainly be a contact between the two cars.
The consensus was that Power lacked speed when he fell back, so that Hunter-Reay and Dixon were right behind him.
While Rossi chose a two-stop strategy, the rest of the field were on a three-stops. Still he drove much faster than everybody else, so even though he had pitted for the last time he was in P2, only 1,7 seconds behind Wickens, who still had to pit one more time.
Though Rossi was seemingly on his way to victory, there was a huge battle for the second place between Wickens, Newgarden, Power, Hunter-Reay, Dixon, Pagenaud, and Bourdais, who were all pretty much driving in a long train.
That was why the pit crews had a big role on determining the results of the race, all depending on how fast they could change the tires and refuel.
After the last round of pitstops, Rossi was leading, ahead of Wickens, Power, Newgarden, and Dixon. P2 to P8 were only separated by less than ten seconds, so a lot of things could still happen.
Seven laps before chequered flag, Bourdais could finally overtake Hunter-Reay after countless attempts. It sent Hunter-Reay a little off the racing line, so Pagenaud almost made it past as well, but the former managed to hold on.
Nobody could beat Alexander Rossi, who won the race with 14 seconds down to Robert Wickens, who had Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud, Graham Rahal and Zach Veach within 12 seconds.
The amazing thing was that there wasn’t a single yellow flag period throughout the race, which meant 90 laps of an uninterrupted race.
Dixon continues to lead the championship, while Rossi climbs up to P2 after the win, followed by Newgarden and Power.
Vrizon IndyCar Series will hold a three-week summer holiday, and they’ll be back on the oval in Pocono on 19 August.