Victory eludes Wickens again as he finishes second at Mid-Ohio

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Robert Wickens was again in contention to take his maiden Verizon IndyCar Series win during Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver ran in the top five in the opening stint and assumed the lead on Lap 30 after Alexander Rossi made his first pit stop – Wickens pitted much earlier, on Lap 16, and used clean air to run fast laps and reduce the gap between them, which allowed him to move to the lead when Rossi pitted.

And even though Rossi was on a two-stop strategy compared to Wickens’ three stops, Wickens appeared to be better positioned in the first half of the race, as he was building the gap between them to nearly 20 seconds in his second stint.

However, Wickens was unable to make the gap big enough to stay ahead of Rossi after his second stop, and during his third stint, Wickens was balked behind the lapped cars of Tony Kanaan and Takuma Sato.

Unable to pass them – they were on the alternate red tires, while Wickens was on the primary blacks – Wickens could not increase the gap between he and Rossi, and ultimately lost time to him on track.

And by the time everyone had made their final stops, Wickens sat in second, nearly 20 seconds behind Rossi.

Further, his No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda team asked him to conserve fuel in the final stint, preventing him from putting in fast laps to bring the gap back down.

In the end, Wickens had to settle for second, a chance at a maiden IndyCar victory again slipping away.

Still, despite missing out on victory, Wickens believes the three-stop strategy was the right call.

“We stuck to our guns. The strategy worked out, the problem was on my third stint there I just got stuck in a whole gaggle of cars,” he explained to NBCSN’s Jon Beekhuis post-race.

Wickens continued, “They were on reds, I was on blacks and I couldn’t make it through and lost loads of time. I was probably losing a second a lap for a good 10, 15 laps. It’s unfortunate, I think our three-stop (strategy) could’ve worked. It would’ve been racy. Probably in the last couple laps, I would’ve caught (Rossi), but nevertheless, P5 to P2, hard to complain.”

Wickens entered Mid-Ohio sixth in the championship, and remains in sixth exiting the weekend, 19 points behind fifth place Ryan Hunter-Reay.

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Indy 500 analyst role part of looking forward for Danica Patrick

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It’s been 10 months since Danica Patrick last competed in an auto racing event and she is completely fine with that.

Patrick was last seen in a cockpit in last May’s Indianapolis 500, part of her mini-retirement tour from racing that also included a run in the Daytona 500.

Now she’ll be back at the track, serving as an analyst for NBC’s broadcast of the 103rd Indy 500 on May 26.

It will be an interlude to her post-racing career.

“I really don’t miss racing,” Patrick said during a teleconference Wednesday.  “I’m really happy. I selfishly set out (with) the intention I wanted to travel a lot. I’ve definitely done that. Also working on my other businesses.”

Without racing, Patrick is able to look over her “Warrior” clothing line and her Somnium wine. She’s also been a host of ESPN’s Espy Awards show.

“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward (person),” Patrick said. “This is something that’s part of looking forward. This is something totally new and different for me. It’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history, but it hasn’t been my job, which is why I’m going to work really hard to make sure I’m ready, like anything else I do that’s different.

Since retiring, Patrick said she watches racing “when I can.”

“I’m not going to lie, I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Patrick said. “It’s allowed me new opportunities like this.”

This won’t be the first time Patrick has served in an analyst role for a race. She did the same for some Xfinity Series race broadcasts in the last few years of her NASCAR career.

“It’s very good to have had that experience,” Patrick said. “Obviously I was giving my driving experience sort of perspective and that insight, which is something I’m going to be doing again. But it was a guest spot.

“This is firm and established, part of a small team of two with Mike (Tirico) and I. I think there’s going to be a lot more preparation involved, I’m going to need to know a lot more information.”

Patrick said there will be one difference in her Indy 500 experience this year compared to the eight times she competed in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“I didn’t purposely look at the buildup of the day,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want to see the fans rolling in, all the pomp and circumstance. I really liked to keep it quiet. I wanted to just walk out there and have it be the event, not let myself get built up too much in my head with nerves, just the platform, the iconic event that it was, the millions of people. I just wanted to stay focused and go do it.

“This time, I’m sure I will see the buildup. I’m sure I’ll see the place fill in and turn from a quiet, peaceful, magical place, (and) at the shot of a cannon it’s going to start unraveling. That will be a cool perspective for me that I purposely haven’t really watched closely.”

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