Race Report: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio
LEXINGTON, Ohio (July 3, 2022) -- Last man standing. That was Dalton Kellett who was the only driver on the AJ Foyt Racing team to bring it home in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sunday afternoon.
What started out as a promising race for the AJ Foyt Racing team quickly deteriorated after the first round of pit stops in the 80-lap race.
Starting ninth in the No. 14 Sexton Properties Chevrolet, Kyle Kirkwood had been running eighth in the first stint when he pitted on lap 27. A smooth stop halfway through the pit cycle saw him emerge in 15th as others ahead of him still needed to pit.
Unfortunately, the second lap on his new alternate compound (red) Firestone tires proved to be his last as his race ended against the tire barrier in Turn 9 on lap 29. He placed 26th.
Asked what happened, the 23-year-old rookie replied, “You know, I'm not really too sure. I’ve got to go
back through it but it wasn't the same as Detroit. You know, at Detroit the reds caught me out and the car went sideways on me. But here I already did a lap. And I figured the pressures were up, grip felt like it was there, it just hit Turn 8 and it bottomed out right in the middle of the corner and set the car sailing, and the nature of the track is kind of increasing radius in that section. So, unfortunately for the 14 AJ Foyt crew we didn't get to get the finish that we thought we deserved. We were doing solid this weekend. So we're right there in the top 10, fighting for seventh-eighth-ninth really. Definitely disappointing. But we'll come back stronger next time.”
Kirkwood, who wasn't injured in the accident, had just finished his TV interview at the medical center when the race was restarted after the third caution period. Kellett, who had just pitted in his No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet, restarted 24th.
On the restart, he was hit from behind in Turn 2 by Jack Harvey and spun off course. By the time the safety team got Kellett restarted, he had lost two laps. He was able to rejoin the race but did not have access to push-to-pass despite having 128 seconds left. He soldiered on and finished 22nd.
Kellett summed up his day saying, “Overall, it was not the best day for the AJ Foyt Racing crew. On my end, I felt like we had a pretty hooked up car in the first stint. In the warmup we tried something close to Kyle’s setup from qualifying and it wasn't quite working for me which kind of goes to show you've got to sort of figure out your own thing for your own driving style. So, we went back to our qualifying car and on the new reds, the car felt pretty good. It felt like it was really connected through the corner, and I was able to push through the sections from four to nine."
Kellett talks with race strategist Grant Weaver after the race.
"We were running decently well and then got turned around by the 45 car which was unfortunate," the young Canadian continued. "On a restart everyone's battling but it's not great when you get turned from behind. So, a mistake on their part and that put us two laps down because it took them a while to get me going again. Losing two laps -- that's the hard part. On an oval you can make that back but on a short road course like this, you have to get supremely lucky and that didn't happen. On the blacks and the scrubbed red set we were lacking a bit of mechanical grip through the rhythm section. But overall a tough day, hoping for something better at the home race in Toronto.”
Tatiana Calderón was running 20th after starting 26th in the No. 11 ROKiT Chevrolet and was driving one of her best races of the season. She appeared to be headed for a solid finish when an issue developed when she was shifting gears. She had to pull off the track in Turn 4 after 51 laps. She was credited with 25th.
“We were having a good time out there," said the young rookie from Colombia. "We started on reds and pitted for another set of reds and the car was feeling actually quite good. So we were, you know, in the mix I think, had good pace, and then we started to have some delays on the downshifts. We need to figure out what happened. It was just stuck in first gear out of Turn 2 and sadly that was the end of the day. But I think the team did a great pitstop, the strategy was the right one, so it's a shame we couldn't finish a good race, but that's racing sometimes.”
After the race, engineer Daniele Cucchiaioni chats with Tatiana (right) and her sister Paula who is her business manager.
Scott McLaughlin won what could best be described as a wild race that saw many drivers skidding off course including his teammate Will Power who rebounded from last to finish third. Defending NTT INDYCAR Series Champion Alex Palou finished second. Rounding out the top five were Rinus Veekay and Scott Dixon.
The NTT INDYCAR Series returns to Toronto in two weeks for the first time since 2019. The Honda Indy Toronto will be streamed live on Peacock Premium and the INDYCAR Radio Network on Sunday, July 17 at 3 p.m. (ET).