What Drivers Are Saying about this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio


Here’s What Drivers Are Saying about this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the first of three permanent road course events in the remaining five races on the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule:


JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “The race weekend at Toronto didn’t go the way we were hoping but we’re ready to put that behind us and really focus on Mid-Ohio. We ran a really strong race there last year and have had some good luck on road courses this season, so we’re feeling pretty good going into the weekend. It was great for us all to have a weekend off to refocus, but I know the entire No. 1 Hitachi Chevrolet team and myself are ready to head back to Mid-Ohio and have a great performance to gain more championship points.”

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Mid-Ohio reminds me of the tracks I used to race in Europe. It’s a pretty fun track to drive but technical at the same time. When you have a good car, I’d say it is one of the best tracks to drive in America.”

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): “The Arrow Electronics crew has had a good run the last few weeks, and we really just want to keep the momentum going. Robbie (Wickens) had a really good test here last week and we are both hoping that translates into a strong weekend for the whole team. It’s such a fun track to drive on, but passing is at a premium so we need to make sure we have the qualifying pace.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): “I think our team is building a lot of momentum. We’re coming off of three consecutive top-five finishes, as well as back-to-back races in Iowa and Toronto where there was a very strong chance that we could have had both cars on the podium in both races. I think it’s a good time of year for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. We just finished testing at Mid-Ohio the Tuesday after Toronto, and it was a fairly productive test day for the Lucas Oil crew. I’m optimistic that we can hopefully have another strong weekend and keep those top-fives going.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “Mid-Ohio is just one of those tracks where we have a feeling that if we get things right with the PNC Bank car, we always have a decent shot at winning. The track has been very special to not only myself, but to the team over the years. It’s one of those rhythm tracks where if you get in a good groove, then things just take off if everything is working right. You can come from about anywhere to win here as we’ve seen in the past, but it’s a lot easier when you do it from the front, so a good qualifying run is always important on this style of track.”

ED JONES (No. 10 DC Solar Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I’m looking forward to the race weekend at Mid-Ohio. We tested there last week for a full day, so it definitely raises the level of comfort you have when you return. Since the test was just last week, it really helps overall because we were just there and everything is top of mind this week. Mid-Ohio is a very difficult track. Qualifying is extremely important here and is one of the biggest keys to having a great race. We’ll spend a lot of time focused on qualifying and getting into the Firestone Fast Six. I think if we can do that, then we’ll have a good day in the No. 10 DC Solar Honda on Sunday.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “We’re ready to head to Mid-Ohio. I really enjoy road course racing and it’s a really fun track. The No. 12 Verizon Chevy team and I are excited to go back. The crowd was really great there last year and always is, so it’s a fun place to go. We’re focused on winning and trying to get as many championship points as possible, so that’s what we’re really going for there.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Chevrolet): “It’s always great to race in Mid-Ohio. It’s a challenging track but also fun to drive. And there’s always a great crowd there.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda): “Over the last four years, we have been really strong at Mid-Ohio. We’ve had great consistency and we finished on the podium last year, which is always special. It’s going to be an important one for us again. I’m excited to get back home. Obviously we would like to continue the top-five streak but, more importantly, we’d love to get another win which is what we really need at this time. I’m definitely focused heavily on trying to make that happen. Being that Takuma (Sato) and I didn’t test at Mid-Ohio, we’re definitely going to have an uphill battle. Luckily, we get a lot of on-track time on Friday so I’m sure we’ll be in good shape plus, as the race weekend goes on, the car changes, the track changes so much that it’s always a tricky situation anyway, whether you test or not. We’ve both been fast there, so hopefully, we can get Honda another win at Mid-Ohio. With the race being in their backyard and everything, it would be pretty special. The crowd is always unreal, which is really special for me. I’m excited to feel that support. Hopefully, we can go out and get a win for them, more than anything else. Our road course package has definitely gotten better but Mid-Ohio is a little bit different. It’s a very high-grip track, it’s always very hot and there are a lot of elevation changes that are very severe, unlike most tracks. Fifth Third Bank has been such a great partner of ours over the past few years, but to see them support me in my home race is really special. It’s their home race, too, being that they are based in Cincinnati, so I’m excited to get the weekend going.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda): “I am looking forward to racing at Mid-Ohio. My results there haven’t been great other than a podium finish in 2014, but I have qualified fairly well recently with a pole in 2014 and third in 2015. It’s a circuit I enjoy with the elevation changes and the flow of the curves that spreads from slow to very fast speeds. Qualifying is key to having a good race because it is difficult to overtake. There are a couple of places you can do it, Turn 4 at the end of the back straight and Turn 2, but being up front, like anywhere, always makes things easier. The SealMaster Honda No. 18 has not had the success we were hoping for so far this season, but we keep working hard and hopefully, we can put up some good results in the last five races of the season.”

PIETRO FITTIPALDI (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): “I was really happy with my first day back in the Paysafe car last week during our evaluation day. It was a big relief for me after two months of just doing a lot of training, physical therapy and working to be healthy and to be able to get back driving. To run my first laps last week was a really big relief because it showed that I was able to do it. I felt good and comfortable in the car and the test day went really well. Mid-Ohio will be my first Verizon IndyCar Series race weekend on a road course and I’m really looking forward to it. I never raced at Mid-Ohio before, but I enjoyed it a lot during the test. It’s a really technical track. I think qualifying is going to be very important because there’s not that many places to overtake. I just can’t wait to be on track again.”

JORDAN KING (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “Mid-Ohio is another track I haven’t yet been to, but I have done some time on the simulator and it looks like a lot of fun. Lots of flowing corners that lead into one another, I think this will make it quite tough to learn but that’s all part of the experience.”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “I’ve always loved driving at Mid-Ohio since I first went there in 2010. It’s a very challenging track that takes a lot of commitment and precision to be fast in an Indy car. It’s one of those places that flows extremely well so when you get into a rhythm around there, the laps just fly by. We’ve definitely made a lot of improvements to the Fuzzy’s Vodka car the past few races, so I can’t wait to see how we stack up.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m really pumped to head to Mid-Ohio. My team gave me a really great car at Toronto and with that great finish, we have a lot of momentum in our favor headed to Mid-Ohio. The No. 22 Menards Chevrolet team has prepared another really strong car that I can’t wait to race there. Road courses are always a lot of fun and Mid-Ohio is no exception. Having learned a few things at Toronto, we’re excited to apply those learnings to our Mid-Ohio car. Not to mention, it’s such a fun crowd there and last year there were fans just everywhere. It was so great to see that crowd. We’re ready for another great weekend.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet): “The No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet team had a productive test day here at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last week and I know that data and experience will be really helpful once we hit the track on Friday. It’s one of my favorite tracks, of course with it being the home of my first INDYCAR win, but it’s also the fan support and laid-back atmosphere that makes it special. The top-five finish at Toronto was a testament to the entire Carlin team’s hard work, and I know we’ll be carrying that through to the final five races of the season.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Relay Group 1001 Honda): “My home race is always one of my favorites – from all of my fellow Ohioans being there, my family and, of course, the racetrack itself always makes for a great weekend. We have some momentum with us from Toronto and I hope it carries into my home race. We’re pushing as hard as ever to keep fighting towards the front end of the grid and we’re getting there step by step!”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “We are getting into the home stretch now and every race is incredibly important. We’ve had a difficult run the past three races, but we also haven’t qualified outside of the top five at any of those events. The pace is there, which is the most important thing. All of our focus is on executing and doing our jobs in Mid-Ohio and if we can do that we will close the gap up to Scott (Dixon).”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Mid-Ohio is one of my favorite tracks on the INDYCAR schedule and a place where we as a team have had some pretty good pace in the past, and hopefully that will be the case again this year. This is the first time we’ll be on the track there with the new car, so we really need to make the most of the practice sessions as a four-car team. I really want to get the DHL Honda a second win this season. We’re still in contention for the championship – a strong result is important to keep up in the fight.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): “Last year was the first time for a long time that I felt really comfortable at road courses. Coming from Formula One to INDYCAR, road courses are where I naturally felt the most comfortable and the first two years were indeed great fun, but then I struggled a bit to find a good result so last year was a great feeling that I got a competitive package on a road course and I enjoyed it. Mid-Ohio is a great road course. It might not be one of the largest, but it is one of the most fun tracks. It always reminded me of the UK’s national course where I had a lot of great memories in British Formula 3 days. In fact, some of the fans who came to Mid-Ohio even brought a picture of those days! It’s great to have a lot of team guests and also some local support from Honda, too, so it’s going to be a huge event for us. I think the team always performs strong at Mid-Ohio and our road course performance is getting a lot stronger recently, so I expect we will be competitive. We struggled a little at the beginning of the season but the team is moving forward fast and getting better and better. The No. 30 car is especially improving a lot and since Detroit in June, we have been getting more competitive almost every race weekend. I think it’s going to be better and better for us. I would love to have more street courses, but three road courses left this season sounds really positive for us after our performance at Road America. We will go racing as hard as we can and hopefully our best results are coming.”

RENE BINDER (No. 32 HD Pellets Chevrolet): “I am looking forward to my fifth grand prix weekend in the Verizon IndyCar Series. This week we tested at Mid-Ohio and were able to gather some valuable data. In Toronto, we had three strong practice sessions and a great qualifying attempt, so I look forward to bringing that momentum to Ohio. We have all been working hard and are looking for a solid result. I know we have the speed from our powerful Chevy engine and look forward to a great weekend in the No. 32 HD Pellets car.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): “Toronto was obviously a pretty disappointing race for the Carlin Gallagher Racing team with the incident that took us out early in the race, but after a really solid test in Mid-Ohio and a weekend off we’re all feeling energized and ready to get back on track at Mid-Ohio. Our Mid-Ohio test last week was great and we came out of that testing day feeling confident with the data we were able to collect from myself and Charlie (Kimball). The race at Mid-Ohio is a great event with a great atmosphere and it makes it so much more fun for us as drivers when we get to drive in front of fans who are so passionate about the sport.”

JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation Sirius XM MSR with SPM Honda): “Mid-Ohio is a special race for Michael (Shank, team co-owner) with it being his home race. And Mid-Ohio is the pinnacle of open-wheel racing in North America. It’s also a special race for me because it’s where I got my first win in North America. If we could choose to win any race, aside from Indy, I think this would be the one. I was at the track when the team had its IMSA race there and it was so nice to see how many people came out as guests of the team and how much local interaction they got. All in all, I think we can have a really competitive race and I am looking forward to the weekend.”

CONOR DALY (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): “I’m obviously excited about another chance to work with the Harding Racing team at Mid-Ohio since we were able to test there just last week. Every lap I do in the car, I learn more and we make progress as a team on the technical side. I can’t wait to get back out there and give it all I’ve got for these guys, as they are an incredibly hard-working group of people.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 Ruoff Home Mortgage / Curb Honda): “I’m excited to get back on track this weekend. I love driving Mid-Ohio’s track. We’re coming off a weekend where we had strong pace and hopefully, we’ll continue to run in the top five throughout the weekend and convert that into a podium or a win on race day. It would mean a lot to win at Mid-Ohio, the fans there are incredible and it’s such an important race for Honda.”

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale


Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”