What to Watch For: IndyCar at Mid-Ohio (2 p.m. ET, CNBC)

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LEXINGTON, Ohio – The flowing road course that is the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course hosts the fifth-to-last round of the Verizon IndyCar Series season (2 p.m. ET, CNBC, with re-air at 5:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

The Honda Indy 200 is generally known for pit strategy and a lack of yellows – there have only been eight full-course cautions in the last five years at Mid-Ohio – and the 2012 and 2013 races ran caution-free.

PREVIEW
QUALIFYING REPORT

Here’s what to watch for in today’s 90-lap race.

LIVE BY THE YELLOW, DIE BY THE YELLOW

It’s become a tradition in IndyCar, seemingly, that you can either win or lose a race by depending when the last caution comes out.

Scott Dixon’s team missed the window by staying out a few laps later than he probably should have, and it bit him hard. Yes, he got over it later Sunday night once he got home, but it was another crushing blow to his title defense hopes.

Will Power, who benefited from it two weeks ago, noted he still wants to see the rule where the pits get closed immediately changed at some point.

“Obviously yellows play a big part,” he said. “If it goes yellow and you’re stuck out, you go to the back, which is one of the worst things about this series, and it has to change. I say it every week. But it won me a race in Toronto, and it probably won me a race in Detroit, and I still say it’s wrong.”

This is what changed the complexion of the race last year – it helped Graham Rahal win the race – and we’ll see if it plays a role today.

Per our NBCSN pit reporter Jon Beekhuis, “Professor B,” the last pit window opens at Lap 62 and runs until Lap 83. Watch around that Lap 62 mark to see who pits, and if it benefits them towards the end.

… IF THERE IS ANY YELLOW

There is a good chance today’s race could run caution-free. As noted, Mid-Ohio ran caution-free in 2012 and 2013.

And in the three permanent road course races this year (Barber, 1 for 1 lap, Indy GP, 2 for 10 laps, Road America, 1 for 4 laps), there have only been a total of four cautions.

So watch the race wind up having like five or six, or something…

DIXON’S INQUISITION

One of two major stories this weekend has been the form of Scott Dixon and the bad luck that has come with him.

He’s had the pace, but he enters on the heels of his lost win opportunity at Toronto and now from 11th on the grid.

He’s won five times in nine years… but he might need a bit of good luck, a la two years ago when strategy helped propel him from 22nd and last to first, if he’s going to make it all up today.

HOMETOWN AND HONDA HEROES

Graham Rahal is one of Honda’s best shots at home win, starting P6, and Ryan Hunter-Reay also has a good shot from P4.

Meanwhile the surprise of the weekend – to some anyway – is rookie RC Enerson, who will roll off from P18 for his Verizon IndyCar Series debut.

Watch these three drivers today.

STRATEGERY

Here’s your pit windows as outlined by Beekhuis:

Window 1: 6-27
Window 2: 34-55
Window 3: 62-83

The life of the Firestone red alternate tires is expected to be 25 laps, which syncs up with the fuel window.

Who tries something off strategy to make it work? We shall see who does so.

Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series triples to 34 races in 2023

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023
Xtreme Outlaw Series
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After hosting 10 rounds in 2022, the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series 2023 schedule will more than triple to 34 races. The 2022 season featured seven different winners in the first seven races, a female racer in Jade Avedisian as the only repeat winner and Zach Daum as the champion.

“Dirt Midget racing is a growing entity in American motorsports, and the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota is proud to drive further into the growth of the division with both a diverse and lucrative schedule for 2023,” newly appointed Series Director Tyler Bachman said in a press release. “From the kickoff at our first indoor event, to each of the new tracks we’re set to visit next year, it’s a lineup we know both our teams and fans will enjoy.”

The championship purse fund has also more than double with an increase of $42,000 to $80,000 in 2023. The champion will win $25,000. Last year, Daum pocketed $10,000.

In addition, the series will offer tow money to the top 12 in points. Six drivers attempted to qualify for all 10 races in 2022 with 89 drivers attending.

The series will begin on March 10 at Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Ill. and end the same place it did in 2022 at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City on October 15.

During the season, they will visit 21 tracks in 10 states.

Some highlights of the season include the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series pairing up with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars in 2023 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo. in April for the Outlaw Showdown and again in August for the Ironman 55 weekend, as well as the creation of a five-day Midget Speedweek.

The Midget Speedweek will immediately follow the Ironman 55 with a swing through Pennsylvania and New York.

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023 Schedule

Friday, March 10 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Saturday, March 11 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Friday, March 31 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.

Saturday, April 1 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.
Friday, April 14 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Saturday, April 15 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.

Friday, May 5 | Humboldt Speedway | Humboldt, Kan.
Saturday, May 6 | 81 Speedway | Park City, Kan.
Tuesday, May 23 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.
Wednesday, May 24 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.

Thursday, June 1 | Tri-City Speedway | Pontoon Beach, Ill.
Friday, June 2 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.
Saturday, June 3 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.

Friday, July 21 | TBA
Saturday, July 22 | Southern Illinois Raceway | Marion, Ill.
Friday, July 28 | TBA
Saturday, July 29 | Atomic Speedway | Chillicothe, Ohio
Sunday, July 30 | Brushcreek Motorsports Complex | Peebles, Ohio

Friday, August 4 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Sat, August 5 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Tuesday, August 8 | Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway | Newmanstown, Pa.
Wednesday, August 9 | Action Track USA | Kutztown, Pa.
Thursday, August 10 | Linda’s Speedway | Jonestown, Pa.
Friday, August 11 | TBA
Saturday, August 12 | Bridgeport Motorsports Park | Swedesboro, N.J.
Friday, August 25 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa
Saturday, August 26 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa

Friday, September 1 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Saturday, September 2 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Friday, September 15 | Jacksonville Speedway | Jacksonville, Ill.
Saturday, September 16 | Red Hill Raceway | Sumner, Ill.

Friday, October 13 | Port City Raceway | Tulsa, Okla.
Saturday, October 14 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.
Sunday, October 15 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.

* Co-sanctioned with POWRi