What to watch for: IndyCar at Mid-Ohio (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

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FOUR IN A ROW FOR “DIXIE”?

Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is on the verge of becoming the first driver to win four consecutive races under INDYCAR sanction, and a fifth career win overall at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course can certainly be done from the inside of Row 2.

With Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves, the guy in front of him in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship, having to start from 14th on the grid, Dixon is in prime position to cut into the Brazilian’s points lead (and for that matter, so is pole sitter Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport, who needs a big day to bolster his hopes for a second straight series title).

THE UNFORGIVING MID-OHIO

Mid-Ohio has won a reputation for being one of the most challenging road courses in America. Outside of starts and restarts, it can be hard to gain spots on the track at this narrow, undulating 2.26-mile road course – but very easy to lose them.

Keeping track position toward the front will be especially critical, and the drivers will need their pit crews to be sharp. A position or two gained coming out of the pits could mean a lot in the end.

POWER CHARGED UP

Team Penske’s Will Power remains winless in 2013, which is still one of the year’s notable surprises. But while he’s not challenging for a title, that also frees him of having to worry about the big picture.

“I am able to be a little bit more aggressive since we are not in the hunt for a championship like some of the other guys [starting] around me,” he noted after qualifying on the front row yesterday.  And that makes me think he’ll have a say in today’s outcome…

HEY, MR. WILSON

…The same goes for Justin Wilson, who has been reasonably quick throughout the weekend. That was probably expected considering that he and Dale Coyne Racing tested at M-O in June (and did so again in the series’ Open Test on Wednesday).

He narrowly missed out on the Firestone Fast Six on Saturday, but will still start a reasonable seventh on the grid. It also bears noting that he was fastest in this morning’s practice session. A podium finish for Wilson is a distinct possibility this afternoon.

IZOD IndyCar Series – Honda Indy 200
Starting Grid/Tire Compound

Row 1
1-Ryan Hunter-Reay (ALTERNATE)
12-Will Power (ALTERNATE)

Row 2
9-Scott Dixon (ALTERNATE)
25-Marco Andretti (PRIMARY)

Row 3
83-Charlie Kimball (ALTERNATE)
10-Dario Franchitti (ALTERNATE)

Row 4
19-Justin Wilson (ALTERNATE)
77-Simon Pagenaud (PRIMARY)

Row 5
78-Simona de Silvestro (ALTERNATE)
16-James Jakes (PRIMARY)

Row 6
5-E.J. Viso (PRIMARY)
27-James Hinchcliffe (ALTERNATE)

Row 7
7-Sebastien Bourdais (ALTERNATE)
3-Helio Castroneves (ALTERNATE)

Row 8
14-Takuma Sato (PRIMARY)
18-James Davison (Rookie; ALTERNATE)

Row 9
4-Oriol Servia (PRIMARY)
67-Josef Newgarden (PRIMARY)

Row 10
11-Tony Kanaan (PRIMARY)
6-Sebastian Saavedra (ALTERNATE)

Row 11
*55-Tristan Vautier (Rookie; ALTERNATE)
15-Graham Rahal (ALTERNATE)

Row 12
20-Ed Carpenter (PRIMARY)
98-Luca Filippi (Rookie; ALTERNATE)

*Tristan Vautier has been penalized 10 spots on the grid for an unapproved engine change.

Watch today’s Honda Indy 200 from Mid-Ohio online and on your mobile device.

NHRA: Schumacher, C. Force, Kramer No. 1 qualifiers at Phoenix

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NHRA press release

The 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series season continued Saturday as Courtney Force set both ends of the Funny Car track record at the 34th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park.

Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Deric Kramer (Pro Stock) are also No. 1 qualifiers in their respective categories at the second of 24 events on the 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

Force took over the top spot in the category with a record run of 3.826 seconds at 335.98 mph in her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro during her second pass of the day. After recording seven No. 1 qualifiers in 2017, she is aiming for her first event victory since Houston 2016.

“That last pass today was pretty incredible, we have run well here in the past and I’m excited to be back in that top spot,” Force said. “We are hoping to turn this consistency into a win, we just have to keep being consistent on race day.”

Force is set to face off against Del Worsham in round one of eliminations on Sunday. Ron Capps sits second after a 3.844 at 330.80 in his Napa Auto Parts Dodge Charger R/T during the final pass of qualifying on Saturday. The defending Funny Car champion Robert Hight qualified 11th after a 3.927 at 329.26.

Schumacher led the category with a run of 3.649 at 334.65 in his U.S. Army dragster posted during the first qualifying session on Friday. Schumacher also set the Top Fuel national speed record at 336.57 with a time of 3.667 seconds during his second pass on Friday. After securing four No. 1 qualifiers in the 2017 season, Schumacher locked in his first of the year in day two of qualifying.

“We earned our three points and kept the top spot so it’s been a great weekend for us so far,” Schumacher said. “The car continues to be great and [crew chief] Mike Neff is comfortable and knows what the car is doing, so I think tomorrow is going to be great day.”

He will go head-to-head against Greg Carrillo in round one of eliminations on Sunday. Steve Torrence qualified second after a 3.665 at 331.45 in his Capco Contractors dragster, while the defending world champion Brittany Force qualified in the 14th spot.

In Pro Stock, Kramer took over the top spot after driving to a 6.522 at 210.80 run in his American Ethanol Dodge Dart during the fourth qualifying session of the weekend. He secured the first No. 1 qualifying position of his career as Kramer also chases his first-ever victory in the class.

“It feels great to get that first No. 1 qualifier, and we had a great package put together this weekend and that was able to move us to the top,” Kramer said. “There were definitely some tuning adjustments from Pomona, but we went back to our old game plan with that KB power and it was a great combination.”

Kramer matches up against Alan Prusiensky in the first round of eliminations. Erica Enders is second in the qualifying order after a 6.527 at 209.98, while Alex Laughlin sits in the third spot.

Eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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Sunday’s first-round pairings for eliminations.

TOP FUEL: 1. Tony Schumacher, 3.649 seconds, 336.57 mph vs. 16. Greg Carrillo, 4.227, 220.91; 2. Steve Torrence, 3.655, 331.85 vs. 15. Steven Chrisman, 4.089, 281.30; 3. Clay Millican, 3.664, 335.23 vs. 14. Brittany Force, 3.828, 253.52; 4. Leah Pritchett, 3.679, 334.15 vs. 13. Troy Buff, 3.809, 318.77; 5. Richie Crampton, 3.683, 325.30 vs. 12. Scott Palmer, 3.788, 326.63; 6. Billy Torrence, 3.697, 331.45  vs. 11. Doug Kalitta, 3.742, 328.78; 7. Blake Alexander, 3.705, 332.59 vs. 10. Terry McMillen, 3.740, 325.85; 8. Antron Brown, 3.712, 333.66 vs. 9. Mike Salinas, 3.737, 326.32.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Kebin Kinsley, 5.118, 136.79; 18. Terry Totten, 8.158, 69.73; 19. Terry Haddock, 10.095, 91.23.

FUNNY CAR: 1. Courtney Force, Chevy Camaro, 3.826, 335.98 vs. 16. Del Worsham, Toyota Camry, 5.089, 173.99; 2. Ron Capps, Dodge Charger, 3.844, 330.80 vs. 15. Tim Wilkerson, Ford Mustang, 4.551, 182.82; 3. Jack Beckman, Charger, 3.845, 332.43 vs. 14. Richard Townsend, Camry, 4.244, 235.27; 4. John Force, Camaro, 3.864, 332.51 vs. 13. Jeff Diehl, Camry, 4.120, 307.79; 5. Jonnie Lindberg, Camry, 3.866, 317.27 vs. 12. Bob Tasca III, Mustang, 3.971, 316.75; 6. Tommy Johnson Jr., Charger, 3.879, 329.91 vs. 11. Robert Hight, Camaro, 3.927, 329.26; 7. Cruz Pedregon, Camry, 3.888, 333.25 vs. 10. Shawn Langdon, Camry, 3.927, 329.42; 8. J.R. Todd, Camry, 3.919, 324.20 vs. 9. Matt Hagan, Charger, 3.926, 330.88.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Jim Campbell, 7.402, 91.58.

PRO STOCK: 1. Deric Kramer, Chevy Camaro, 6.522, 211.00 vs. 16. Alan Prusiensky, Dodge Dart, 6.663, 207.94; 2. Erica Enders, Camaro, 6.527, 209.98 vs. 15. Steve Graham, Camaro, 6.659, 208.55; 3. Alex Laughlin, Camaro, 6.529, 209.59 vs. 14. Val Smeland, Camaro, 6.640, 209.69; 4. Greg Anderson, Camaro, 6.530, 211.66 vs. 13. Kenny Delco, Camaro, 6.581, 209.82; 5. Jason Line, Camaro, 6.531, 211.03 vs. 12. Vincent Nobile, Camaro, 6.567, 210.08; 6. Bo Butner, Camaro, 6.532, 210.60 vs. 11. Jeg Coughlin, Camaro, 6.553, 210.14; 7. Chris McGaha, Camaro, 6.534, 211.63 vs. 10. Tanner Gray, Camaro, 6.550, 210.41; 8. Matt Hartford, Camaro, 6.542, 210.05 vs. 9. Drew Skillman, Camaro, 6.550, 211.39.

Did Not Qualify: 17. Joey Grose, 6.720, 206.64.