IndyCar Update: Can Scott Dixon make strategy work at Mid-Ohio?

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A strategy play has put last-place starter Scott Dixon into the lead at the halfway point of the Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Dixon last pitted on Lap 31, and stayed out under a Lap 37 caution to take the lead from Sebastien Bourdais. Josef Newgarden, Carlos Munoz, and Graham Rahal were third, fourth, and fifth respectively as the race hit Lap 45 of 90.

The start of today’s race was eventful for IndyCar championship leader Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, and Marco Andretti – but not in the way they were hoping for.

As the rest of the field made their way out for pace laps, Castroneves had to deal with a throttle issue on his car that wouldn’t be resolved until after the race began.

But shortly after the green flag came out between Turns 3 and 4, Tony Kanaan spun out in 4 and was then hit by Marco Andretti; both drivers were OK but unable to continue on.

Castroneves was able to return to the track just before the race restarted at Lap 5. Green flag stops began for the field around Lap 10, but the leaders were able to go past Lap 20 on their opening stints. Second-place Newgarden went in for black primary tires at Lap 21 and race leader Bourdais went in for a new set of red alternates five laps later.

Bourdais’ stop handed the lead to Ryan Hunter-Reay, who then pitted for blacks at Lap 27. But moments after he came out ahead of Bourdais, Race Control hit him with a pit road speeding violation that forced him to the pits for a drive-through.

Hunter-Reay shuffled back to ninth after serving the penalty, while Bourdais re-assumed control of the race ahead of Newgarden, Munoz, Rahal, and James Hinchcliffe.

On Lap 37, Hunter-Reay suffered more trouble when he looped around his No. 28 Andretti Autosport Honda coming off Turn 11 before coming to rest in Turn 12. The spin brought out a full-course yellow and knocked Hunter-Reay one lap down.

During the yellow, Takuma Sato suddenly pulled off course at Turn 6. While Sato was being taken care of, the leaders decided to pit at Lap 40 and Bourdais was able to win the race out.

Montoya: ‘Hopefully I get a chance to do Indy again’ (VIDEO)

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Juan Pablo Montoya is on site at this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, his latest trip in a summer and fall filled with a lot of international travel and a number of different race cars he’s been in.

Montoya is committed to a full season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Acura Team Penske in 2018, as he’ll share one of the team’s Acura ARX-05s with Dane Cameron.

However, the question of whether he’ll be able to race in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil remains.

Team Penske has said it plans to only run four cars next month of May, with Helio Castroneves as the fourth driver alongside the three full-time cars driven by Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power.

While Montoya has said elsewhere that he’s shopping offers and has talked with other teams, it’d be highly surprising to see the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion who developed the Chevrolet engine for IndyCar’s 2018 Dallara universal body kit in a Honda-powered IndyCar, although he is running Honda’s brand (Acura) in sports cars.

Montoya elaborated on his Indy 500 prospects in an interview with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton at the Circuit of The Americas.

“Not full-time no,” Montoya told NBCSN of his IndyCar 2018 prospects. “Hopefully I get a chance to go to Indy, hopefully with Penske, (and) if not someone else. We’ll see.”

Photo: IndyCar

Montoya has extolled the early testing both on the 2018 IndyCar and on the Acura ARX-05.

The first Acura chassis has run at Road Atlanta and Sebring International Raceway thus far, and will be put through its paces at other venues over the next few months.

“It’s been good. We did a lot of work with INDYCAR on that car. Fans are gonna like it,” Montoya said of the 2018 kit.

“Going to IMSA with the Acura program, we’ve done a lot of testing. It’s a beauty to drive. It drives better than what it looks! I haven’t had that much fun driving a race car in a long time.”

Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) race car to be campaigned by Team Penske in 2018