The Penske drought continued at Iowa, as Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay headed home Josef Newgarden and the fast-charging Sage Karam for his first win of the season, and his first top three. There was trouble for championship leader Juan Pablo Montoya hit trouble early on as he suffered a suspension failure. However Graham Rahal was able to take advantage with a fourth place finish and as a result, sneak into second place in the championship, and within striking distance of Montoya. Meanwhile, the likes of Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Will Power, Sebastien Bourdais and Marco Andretti did not capitalise on Montoya’s early demise as well as they perhaps could have done.
This weekend though, the series returns to the road courses, and to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. A flowing, undulating circuit has some aspects similar to Barber, yet it has its own unique features as well. A few long straights help with overtaking too. The 2015 Honda Indy 200 could well be a massive turning point in the IndyCar season.
This race has been owned by Scott Dixon in the past, with five race wins – including coming from stone dead last to win here last year by some superb fuel saving. Helio Castroneves has won here twice in the past, with his last win here coming 14 years ago. Juan Pablo Montoya also won here, 16 years ago. Ryan Briscoe and Charlie Kimball also have victories here. In fact, Chip Ganassi Racing has won seven of the last eight races here, so this could be the best opportunity out of the last three races for the team to notch up their third win of the season, and to help Scott Dixon in the championship fight.
13 drivers are mathematically in the title fight still with four rounds to go, all the way down to Kimball. However realistically, I would say that only five drivers stand a realistic chance of walking away as champion – Montoya, Rahal (-42), Dixon (-48), Castroneves (-54) and Power (-55). Bourdais in sixth is almost 100 behind at this stage with just over 200 on the table.
There are two driver changes for this race as the oval regulars make way for their road and street course counterparts – Ed Carpenter makes way for Luca Filippi at CFH Racing and Pippa Mann makes way for Rodolfo Gonzalez at Dale Coyne Racing. I would not be too surprised to see Mann back at the wheel for Fontana, although that has not been confirmed as yet.
Finally, there are a few changes to be mentioned. A gagging order has been put in place preventing anybody criticising the series, officials, other drivers or anything like that. Yeah, better not say anything on that one. And LED lights will appear on all of the cars, showing which positon the car is currently in. The system has already been trialled in F1 and is sort of used in the World Endurance Championship.