mid-ohio sports car course

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Cooper Tire confirmed as official tire of Mid-Ohio

Leave a comment

So on Saturday night, the media center, Turn 1 bridge and other signage at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was adorned in Goodyear colors.

And by first thing Sunday morning, Cooper Tire was the newly featured presence on those places around the picturesque, classic road course.

It’s been formalized and here’s the release below.

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course announced today that Cooper Tire has been selected as the official tire of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and The Mid-Ohio School. The Mid-Ohio School provides professional driving and riding instruction to drivers and motorcyclists of all skill levels, and has seen close to 54,000 graduates to date.

As the exclusive tire supplier, Cooper will be used on The Mid-Ohio School’s fleet of Honda and Acura vehicles, including pace cars and service vehicles, which will be fitted with the new Cooper Zeon RS3-G1 performance tire to handle the challenging road course. Cooper will also have a presence throughout the grounds of Mid-Ohio, with signage at the front stretch crossover bridge and the iconic tower that sits at the start/finish line, housing the facility’s media center and hospitality suites.

“It is a pleasure to announce that Cooper has become a valued partner for both Mid-Ohio Sports Course and The Mid-Ohio School,” said Craig Rust, President of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and The Mid-Ohio School. “Cooper brings with them a great history of product quality and performance, in addition to a commitment to motorsports. Mid-Ohio is an excellent platform for Cooper to showcase its ultra-high performance racing products on the track while exposing the Cooper brand to a large audience of motorsports fans. We welcome them to the Mid-Ohio family and look forward to working with their team.”

As a committed supplier in racing, Cooper has been a long-standing partner of all levels of the Mazda Road to Indy. The company recently announced that it will become presenting sponsor of the driver development series, now known as the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires.

“Mid-Ohio is an iconic road course and virtually in the backyard of Cooper’s global headquarters in Findlay, Ohio,” said Chris Pantani, Cooper’s Director of Motorsports, Sponsorships and Event Marketing. “We are extremely excited to announce this partnership and look forward to seeing the Cooper brand represented throughout the facility and on all the Mid-Ohio school cars.”

Rahal falls short of two in a row at Mid-Ohio, but earns fifth top-5 of 2016

(Photo courtesy IndyCar/Chris Jones)
Leave a comment

It wasn’t the repeat win he was looking for, but Graham Rahal still had a strong showing and finish in Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The Ohio native started sixth and finished fourth in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Steak ‘n Shake Honda, his fifth top-five finish of the season.

It’s a good rebound from his last two races, finishing a season-worst (tied) 16th at Iowa and 13th at Toronto.

And in doing so at his home track, the Ohio native also climbed from 11th to ninth in the Verizon IndyCar Series point standings.

Sunday’s race was one where Rahal found himself kind of in a vortex of sorts at the start.

“It’s a case of starting up front,” Rahal told NBCSN in a post-race interview. “That’s the truth. When you start up front, you can’t really risk things, and when you start 13th, you’ve got nothing to lose.

“The only way you’re going to get to the front is to take a risk. It paid, you saw (Carlos) Munoz, (Sebastien) Bourdais, (Takuma) Sato, those guys were all on the same strategy. We couldn’t do that. At the time, we were running sixth, it just wasn’t going to pay off for us.”’

The first pit stop kind of set the tone for Rahal, but he and his team were able to battle back and wound up just one spot off what would have been his third podium finish this season.

“We had our backs up against the wall a little bit after that first yellow and that really hurt us a lot,” Rahal said. “It was hard to pass, got caught up a bit, and I don’t know why but I was really, really slow on the straights. We have to see what was going on there.”

But there’s no denying the good news of the good finish.

“I’m pretty pleased with the car today and the team continues to impress,” Rahal said. “It’s nice to get another top-five.

“Let’s focus on the fact we finished fourth and had a great day. It’s nice to be back in Ohio with the Buckeye stuff, it worked out for me and I think that moved us up in the points a lot.

“It’ll be a busy next couple weeks, a lot of testing, but we’re looking forward to Pocono.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Mid-Ohio offers turnaround opportunity for several Andretti drivers

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s been a rough season for the most part for Andretti Autosport.

Sure, Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Alexander Rossi won the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in May, but highlights other than that have been few and far between.

Still, with five races left in the season – beginning with Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio – there’s still time for all four drivers in the Andretti stable to improve where they are currently.

Let’s break down each driver and his season to date heading into Mid-Ohio:

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda), 7th place: Rossi made IndyCar history when he won the Indy 500. But the other 10 races he’s competed in have produced a mixed bag of results.

The 2016 ESPYS - Arrivals

His highest finish outside of Indy was sixth at Iowa. Next was a pair of 10th-place finishes in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and Belle Isle Race 1.

Sandwiched around his sixth-place finish at Iowa, Rossi is coming off runs of 12th (Belle Isle Race 2), 15th (Road America) and 16th in the most recent race, at Toronto nearly two weeks ago.

While Rossi has struggled in qualifying (16.2 average start), his average finish is just outside the top 10 (11.9).

The California native has raced several times at Mid-Ohio in other series and hopes that past experience will lift him to a good finish Sunday.

“Looking forward to going back to Mid-Ohio,” Rossi said in a team media release. “It’s the second track on the schedule I have a history at, so the familiarity should make the adaptation a lot easier on Friday.

“I know the team has been working really hard the past couple weeks to improve the car and hopefully it can lead to a positive road course result.”

CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda), 10th place: In his third full-time IndyCar season, Munoz for the most part has primarily been a 10th to 15th place finisher (six of 11 races). His best finish was a stout runner-up showing at Indianapolis for the second time in his career (also did so in 2013).

Firestone 600 - Qualifying

His average start is 12.5, including winning his first career IndyCar pole for the weather-suspended race at Texas that will be completed next month.

In addition to his Indy runner-up and sixth at Belle Isle Race 1, the Colombian driver has two other top 10 finishes: eighth in the season opener at St. Petersburg and 10th at Road America. Overall, he has an average finish of 11.8.

After a disappointing 17th place finish at Toronto nearly two weeks ago, Munoz looks to get back on track at Mid-Ohio.

“Mid-Ohio is one of the tracks I like the most in America,” he said. “It is a very challenging track and I’m looking forward to seeing how the weekend goes for us.

“We’ve had a really disappointing last few races and we really need a good result at Mid-Ohio. Hopefully we can change our luck around.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda), 12th place: After back-to-back season finishes of sixth and sixth in 2014 and 2015, Hunter-Reay had high aspirations coming into 2016. But somewhere between the season opener in St. Petersburg (he finished third) and the most recent race nearly two weeks ago at Toronto (finished 12th), things went sideways.

Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone 600

Even his best consecutive race run of the season – seventh and third at Belle Isle Races 1 and 2 and fourth at Road America – barely moved the needle for him in the standings (went from 13th to 11th – and now he’s back to 12th heading to Mid-Ohio).

Mid-Ohio has been an excellent track over the years for RHR. Including one start in the defunct Champ Car World Series, Hunter-Reay has zero wins, one pole, two podiums, four top-fives and five other top-10s at the 2.258-mile road course.

In fact, in all 10 starts he’s made at Mid-Ohio, Hunter-Reay has finished outside the top 10 just once (24th in 2012 due to engine problems). His average start there is 6.8, and average finish is 8.9.

Is it any wonder he’s looking forward to this weekend?

“It’s always a special weekend on the Verizon IndyCar Series calendar,” Hunter-Reay said. “Mid-Ohio has been a big part of my career from my teenage years in Skip Barber to my first-ever Indy car podium finish.

“This place is certainly one of my top three favorite racetracks and is one of the best as an overall event as well. We’ll be looking to improve on our fourth-place finish at Road America a few weeks ago and getting the DHL Honda back on the podium.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Snapple Honda), 17th place: There’s no other way to say it – mired in 17th place in the standings, Marco Andretti is having the worst season of his IndyCar career.

Firestone 600 - Qualifying

In 11 races, the grandson of Mario Andretti and son of Michael Andretti has had little to be happy about: zero wins, zero podiums, zero top fives and just two top 10s (ninth at Belle Isle Race 2 and 10th in the most recent IndyCar race nearly two weeks ago at Toronto).

In a sense, Andretti’s performance is a conundrum of sorts. While he’s completed all but five laps this season, he has yet to lead even one lap.

Up to now, Andretti’s worst season has been 15th in 2012. But with an average start of 18.3 and average finish of 13.5, he’s on track to set a new personal worst.

Still, Andretti hopes he can break out of his funk and have a decent run Sunday at Mid-Ohio:

“Mid-Ohio this year is going to be a physical race with the current aero kits, but I’m looking forward to the competition,” Andretti said. “It’s always a fun event weekend with a lot of fan support and a great turnout for Honda in their backyard.”

With six top-10 finishes in nine career starts at Mid-Ohio, Andretti has little place to go but up.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Here are your TV times for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

© INDYCAR
Leave a comment

The Verizon IndyCar Series rolls into Mid-Ohio this weekend for the Honda Indy 200.

Simon Pagenaud heads into the weekend as the championship leader, but with Penske teammate Will Power gaining ground after three wins in the past four races, the title race continues to heat up.

Here are all of your TV and stream times for this weekend on CNBC, NBCSN and the NBC Sports app.

NBC Sports Group continues its exclusive cable coverage of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series this weekend with live comprehensive coverage from Mid-Ohio, as Will Power (Penske) continues his pursuit of teammate Simon Pagenaud atop the championship standings. Pagenaud sits in first place with 432 points, 47 points ahead of Power, who has won three of the past four races, including the Honda Indy Toronto event on July 17.

Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi) has been dominant at Mid-Ohio in the past decade, recording five wins since 2007. Ohio native Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan) took the checkered flag at his home race last season.

Coverage begins on NBCSN with practice on Friday at 2 p.m. ET, and continues Saturday with live qualifying at 2 p.m. ET. CNBC presents live race coverage on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, and NBCSN will air an encore presentation Sunday at 5 p.m. ET, immediately following live NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage from Pocono.

Brian Till (play-by-play) will call the action alongside analysts and drivers Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell. Reporters Jon Beekhuis, Katie Hargitt, Robin Miller and Kevin Lee will report from the pits.

Date

Coverage

Time (ET)

Network

Fri., July 29 

IndyCar Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio – Practice

2 p.m.

NBCSN

Sat., July 30

IndyCar Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio – Qualifying

2 p.m.

NBCSN

Sun., July 31

IndyCar Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

2 p.m.

CNBC

IndyCar Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Encore)

5:30 p.m.

NBCSN

5 wins in 9 years: Will history again be on Scott Dixon’s side at Mid-Ohio?

(Getty Images)
Leave a comment

If history is any indicator, Scott Dixon will end up in the winner’s circle following Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

The New Zealand native and defending Verizon IndyCar Series has an incredible streak going at the 2.258-mile road course in Lexington, Ohio.

In his last nine IndyCar starts there, Dixon has won five times and finished third yet another time, leaving him with an average finish of an amazing 2.7, best of any active IndyCar driver.

In addition, he has two poles, an average starting position of 5.7 and has finished all 780 laps contested.

But here’s an interesting twist:

In his first five races at Mid-Ohio under the IndyCar banner (he finished 12th and 5th in his two Champ Car races there previously), Dixon won every other year. In other words, Dixon had three wins in five years (2007, 2009, 2011).

Then he began another streak in 2012, having won every other race from that point (2012, 2014). So, if you go by history, Dixon – who finished fourth in last year’s race – is due to win yet again, making it three of the last five just like the previous streak.

Needless to say, Dixon is looking forward to Sunday’s race and potentially closing the gap on points leader Simon Pagenaud. Dixon comes into the race fourth in the standings, 83 points behind the Team Penske driver.

There’s the additional motivation, now, of wanting to win for Target – as it begins its final five races on Dixon’s car.

“I have a soft spot for Mid-Ohio, to be honest,” Dixon said. “I think we have five victories there over the years and 10 or so with the team in total.

“It’s a place that we always feel that all four of our teams will have a shot at winning, and there aren’t many tracks out there where your confidence level is that high as a team. It’s a track that really feels like home to me.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski