Race Report: Honda Indy 200
LEXINGTON, Ohio—Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course is a challenging course when you start at the sharp end of the grid because it is so difficult to pass.
Starting in the back, A.J. Foyt’s team knew they had their work cut out for them.
Matheus Leist and Tony Kanaan slipped through a mid-pack tangle at the start to gain four positions in their ABC Supply Chevrolets before the first lap was completed.
The race strategists decided on a three-stop race versus a two-stop race so that fuel consumption wouldn’t be an issue and if there was a caution, they could be poised to gain track position. Leist pitted early in his fuel window to take advantage of a full course yellow where he could leapfrog the cars who would pit during the caution.
Kanaan was on a slightly different strategy from Leist (still three stops) in that he ran longer on track, pitting at the end of his fuel window to give the team some options depending on how the race sorted out.
Unfortunately, there were a few on track incidents but none serious enough to warrant a full course yellow. Indeed the Honda Indy 200 was a rough and tumble contest as the leaders engaged in some physical wheel-to-wheel combat to send cars careening off track, spinning or simply nudged out of the way.
Slightly different setups on the cars saw Leist have a bit more pace than Kanaan but Leist also sustained more tire degradation which he felt cost him two spots in the final six laps of the 90-lap race. He placed 18th.
“It was a very difficult race here at Mid-Ohio, and disappointing considering we had a good pace in the practices,” Leist said. “The pace was not good, the tire degradation was not good, so I think it was a combination of factors that didn’t allow us to move forward up the grid.”
Kanaan, who finished 20th, said, “I honestly don’t have much to say. Starting all the way back we had to gamble on some strategy moves. Without a yellow during the race there was no gain on what we planned so we raced by ourselves the whole time.”
For what may have been a record turnout of fans at this 13-turn, 2.258-mile permanent road course, winner Scott Dixon put on a show as he won his sixth race at this track. He beat his teammate Felix Rosenqvist by just nine hundredths of a second to post the third-closest finish ever on a road or street course in the NTT IndyCar Series.
Rounding out the top five were: Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Alexander Rossi.
The race teams will have the next two weekends off before heading to Pocono Raceway for the ABC Supply 500 on August 18th which will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network starting at 2 p.m. ET.