Australia’s Will Power has dominated the NTT IndyCar Series’ opening race of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, leading home Penske Racing teammate Josef Newgarden and Andretti Autosports’ Alexander Rossi. It’s Power’s 38th career win in the series, and his first at the venue.
After only managing to qualify 17th, Scott Dixon was able to salvage a 10th-place finish — a scintillating and exciting opening stint packed with lots of wild passing producing most of the improvement.
Dixon made two positions on the opening lap, then made another spot at the beginning of the next lap when Pagenaud spun at turn two while battling Rinus Veekay. Power held the lead early over Josef Newgarden, Conor Daly, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Conor Daly, but the attention was on Dixon’s continual push from down the order on red tyres.
By lap seven he had made five positions, but he was in the middle of a hectic battle pack with the likes of Marco Andretti, Colton Herta, and Veekay. Lap nine saw a particularly wild exchange, as Dixon temporarily lost 12th to Veekay only to get a good run onto the back straight, draft Andretti, then dive around the outside of the third-generation racer for 11th place.
By lap 15 the first pit stops had started rolling out. Dixon ran a relatively long first stint, stopping on lap 22 (the same lap as leader Power). Dixon was lucky a few laps later when pre-pit rival Herta came out of the lane right in front of him. The two made nose-to-tail contact (Dixon alleging over the radio that he was brake-checked), but thankfully there was no critical damage.
By the time the full first pit cycle was complete, Dixon was ninth behind Daly and ahead of Herta. Power led by 2.6 seconds from Newgarden, Hunter-Reay, Rossi and Felix Rosenqvist. Herta got back by Dixon on lap 41, the Kiwi’s black tyres no match for Herta’s reds. Veekay also got past the series leader shortly after, putting him to 11th.
The next wave of stops kicked off soon after, with many of the leaders stopping on lap 46. Dixon stopped on lap 48 with a set of black tyres for the run to the flag. He rejoined in front of Daly, but lost the spot by turn two on cold tyres. By the time the cycle had completed, Power’s lead had extended to eight seconds over Newgarden, and Dixon had resumed in 11th.
With Veekay and Herta clearing out, Dixon’s main challenge in the closing laps was catching and passing Daly for 10th place and holding off Patricio O’Ward behind. There was also a threat of potential rain with 10 laps to go. The race appeared to be fully resolved, but a late, light shower threw a spanner in the works.
Power remained untouchable at the front, eventually winning by over eight seconds, but the battle for second was anything but resolved. Newgarden, Rossi, and Rahal were almost nose-to-tail, with Rossi being the most vulnerable on his aging tyres. But the rain left, and Rossi was able to survive as the trio crossed the line with their order unchanged. Hunter-Reay claimed fifth, with the rain pouring after the race finish.
Dixon looked set to finish 11th, until Daly up ahead had issues that forced him to slow on the last lap. Dixon got by Daly at turn one, with the American continuing to drop positions. It meant Dixon was able to salvage a top 10, and mitigate the points gain of his chief title rival Newgarden.
More to come.