High 5: Chip Ganassi Racing’s win streak at Mid-Ohio (VIDEO)

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As the second half of this year’s Verizon IndyCar Series season has progressed, Chip Ganassi Racing has been getting back toward its usual, front-running form.

Tony Kanaan has led CGR’s resurgence with three consecutive podium finishes (third at Iowa, third and second at Toronto). Now, the series heads this weekend for Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where CGR has been undefeated since 2009.

Just as Andretti Autosport practically owns the deed to Iowa Speedway, so it goes for CGR at the old-school road course in the Ohio countryside.

With the Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio coming up on Sunday (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra), now seems a good time to look back on CGR’s half-decade of dominance at this particular track.

2009 – Dixon makes history

Ganassi’s win streak at Mid-Ohio began in 2009, when Scott Dixon earned his 20th Verizon IndyCar Series victory and broke a tie with Sam Hornish Jr. for the series’ all-time wins record.

Justin Wilson had been in hot pursuit of Dixon in mid-race, but Wilson’s bid for victory halted when he stalled his car on a late-race stop. Dixon went unchallenged for the remainder of the race and won by 29.7 seconds over Ryan Briscoe (then with Team Penske).

2010 – Dario shuts down Power

After Dario Franchitti beat Will Power out of the pits on Lap 60 of 85, they engaged in a duel to the finish following a restart with 15 laps to go. But despite Power’s best efforts across the hilly circuit, Franchitti was able to hold on by just a little more than half a second.

The win was Franchitti’s first and only victory at Mid-Ohio throughout his legendary driving career.

2011 – Dixon wins from the pole

After James Hinchcliffe gave up the lead to pit on Lap 53, Dixon and Franchitti followed suit a few laps later. Then a caution involving Graham Rahal and Danica Patrick came out, setting up a restart at Lap 60 in which Dixon took the lead from Franchitti with an inside move.

That proved to be the turning point of the race, as Dixon went on to earn his second win in three years at Mid-Ohio.

2012 – Late pit stop all the difference for Dixon

On the tightest pit road in all of the Verizon IndyCar Series, Dixon was able to get by Power for the lead when they pitted together on Lap 57 of 85.

When Dixon got to the point, he pulled away to a gap of several seconds and retained it for the rest of the afternoon, beating Power by 3.4 seconds at the stripe.

2013 – Kimball scores his first IndyCar win

With 17 laps to go, American driver Charlie Kimball passed Simon Pagenaud for the lead and went on to earn his first IndyCar checkered flag one day after crashing his car in a practice session.

The win marked a breakthrough for Kimball, who had been the most unheralded driver in IndyCar’s rookie class of 2011 but had made steady improvements in his race craft leading up to his big moment.

Fernando Alonso likes NASCAR country, but he’s not leaving F1 any time soon

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Jimmie Johnson strolled into the Charlotte Convention Center and did a double-take when he saw Fernando Alonso hanging out in a hallway.

“What’s he doing here?” NASCAR’s seven-time champion wondered.

Alonso made the trip to North Carolina to make an appearance at NASCAR’s annual preseason media tour. No, a ride in NASCAR is not imminent, but the two-time Formula One champion is about to embark on his first major sports car race .

Alonso will race this weekend in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona for United Autosports, the sports car team owned by his McLaren F1 boss, Zak Brown. It was Brown who paved the way for Alonso to compete in last year’s Indianapolis 500, and he is helping the Spaniard knock prestigious races off his wish list.

Alonso spent about 10 minutes chatting with Johnson, and the duo was eventually joined by sports car aces Scott Pruett and Joey Hand, who were brought to the NASCAR event by IMSA to help promote the Rolex, and then Cup champion Kevin Harvick.

The meet-and-greet with Alonso was a thrill for Johnson. Alonso was equally impressed.

“The first time I heard his name it was probably 2003 on the NASCAR video game,” Alonso said Tuesday. “I used to choose him, not knowing him, just because of the car. I remember playing with another friend of mine, he likes a chocolate company I will not name now, and he was choosing that car and I was choosing Jimmie’s car.

“But that was the first time I heard of him, and obviously the success that he has in the years in motor racing, he became a legend of our sport, and massive respect.”

Johnson said he’s always been a fan of Alonso’s and spent some time telling Alonso how well he ran in the Indianapolis 500 last May. Alonso led 27 laps and seemed to be in contention for the win until his engine expired 21 laps from the finish.

“He handled himself so well, really did a great job, and I think brought a lot to the table,” Johnson said. “He brought worldwide attention to motorsports and it was really good for us here stateside.”

While in NASCAR country, Alonso was asked about potentially trying a stock car someday. It’s not something that could happen soon, he said, but it is something he’d like to at least attempt.

“Right now, it looks quite far. The driving technique and the experience all those guys have, it’s difficult for me to achieve that level,” Alonso said. “I will never know until I try, so I would like one day to test a car and after that, driving the car, I will know how enjoyable it will be in racing.

“Outside (watching), the races are great because they are all in a group, it is not predictable at all and until the last lap, you don’t know what is going to happen. We love watching from the outside, but I don’t know from the inside.”

Alonso has so far only had three days of testing at Daytona in the sports car to adjust to a closed cockpit, as well as driving at night and in traffic. Trying different series has been a thrill for him, and he’s still eyeing a way to get Le Mans on his schedule.

“It’s one thing that I would like to do, I would like to compete in the best races in the world, and Le Mans and is one of the top races,” he said. “If that day will be this year or not is still to be discussed, but maybe yes.”

More AP Auto Racing: https://racing.ap.org/