Mid-Ohio - Saturday - Close

Story posted - Aug 03 2013 5:36 PM

By Joe Berkemeier

After qualifying, several drivers talked about the decision that Ryan Hunter-Reay's team made to get through the second round of qualifying on used alternate (red) tires.

Hunter-Reay said it was the Michael Andretti's decision and he was skeptical at first, but he just put his head down and headed out on track.

At this point in the season, though, Ryan also said that they need to make such "huge gambles" to catch up in the standings. Earning the point for pole leaves Hunter-Reay 68 points behind with six races remaining.

His rivals were also impressed - Scott Dixon called the move "ballsy". Will Power seemed actually happy with second, such was the advantage of new tires that Hunter-Reay had.

For his part, Dixon downplayed the advantage that he has going into the race over Helio Castroneves, who provisionally will start 15th. Dixon said the championship is still wide open and figures both Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti are contenders.

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Dario Franchitti said that his team made mistakes on his red tire run in the Firestone Fast Six - first, he left the box a little late. Then Franchitti went off at the exit of Turn 1, costing him time further. He figures he missed a second lap on red tires by around a second.

Charlie Kimball, as you'd expect, was effuse with praise for the Chip Ganassi Racing team that put his car back together. As we saw down there ourselves, there were as many people from the Dixon and Franchitti teams as Kimball's own team putting the car together. Charlie blamed the incident on getting caught out by the moisture under the bridge that goes over the track at the turn-in point in Turn 1.

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Ryan Hunter-Reay was disappointed to miss out on the all-time track record here - his fast time was 1:05.352. The all-time record is shared by Gil DeFerran (1999) and Franchitti (2000) and is 1:05.347. For a bit, he seemed more disappointed in missing the record by that close than excited to win the pole. When asked where he could have found the time to get the track record, he pointed to Turn 12. He also admitted, though, that there's no such thing as the perfect lap here due to the sacrifices that have to be made in some corners to be quicker in other quarters.

Hunter-Reay also said that while there isn't historically much passing at the front because the top six or seven cars are so close, there is a fair amount of passing in the middle of the pack due to various setups and strategies. If there are passes at the front, they're generally due to lapped traffic, tires falling off, or fuel strategy.

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For Gabby Chaves, this is his first Firestone Indy Lights pole and the first time he's started on the front row. Chaves is looking for his first win of the season, and while the results have been better the last few races, he thinks that poor qualifying efforts have hurt him.

Peter Dempsey has struggled with his gearbox yesterday and then (like everyone) struggled with the track conditions in the morning. He thought a mistake at Turn 11 cost him a shot at the pole, but given he's never raced here and this is also his best qualifying result of the year, he'll take it.

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In the weekend's second USF2000 race, Neil Alberico had pulled out a gap of over two seconds when Luca Forgeois ran wide at Turn 1, much in the manner that Justin Wilson did a few years ago when he broke his back. Forgeois then pulled off between Turns 2 and 3 with what we assume was terminal mechanical damage.

Somewhere on track Danilo Estrela sustained rear wing damage, leading him to drop from fourth position before he pulled on to pit lane for repairs. He resumed, but did so several laps down.

But up front, it was Neil Alberico for the win by over six seconds.

Afterwards, Alberico admitted that the afternoon race was much more enjoyable than the morning's wet conditions.

Scott Hargrove said the team had damage to both the right and left front suspension in the morning race - the right from contact with Danilo Estrela on track, the left from when Estrela was in the tires and they made secondary contact. Despite the damage, Hargrove thinks he could have passed a few cars if the field had gone back to green.

UNOFFICIAL USF2000 Race #2 Results:

Pos Laps Diff Total Result
1 2 Neil Alberico 20 Laps
2 38 Scott Hargrove 6.490
3 41 Peter Portante 8.709
4 10 RC Enerson 9.184
5 7 Garett Grist 9.519
6 96 Henrik Furuseth 14.785
7 91 Florian Latorre 16.099
8 18 Jeroen Slaghekke 16.774
9 23 Jason Wolfe 18.389
10 21 Jesse Lazare 21.268
11 5 Dalton Kellett 21.614
12 44 Michael Epps 22.730
13 93 Stefan Rzadzinski 26.450
14 17 Wyatt Gooden 27.184
15 77 Austin Cindric 27.575
16 98 Brandon Newey 29.531
17 54 Michael Johnson 31.505
18 51 Felipe Donato 36.809
19 14 Matt McMurry 39.299
20 12 Arthur Oliveira 47.118
21 4 Daniel Burkett 52.329
22 19 Clark Toppe 52.689
23 71 Scott Rettich 1:00.359
24 25 Ryan Verra 19 Laps - Running
25 16 James Dayson 19 Laps - Running
26 6 Timothy Paul 19 Laps - Running
27 11 Danilo Estrela 16 Laps - Not Running
28 8 Luca Forgeois 3 Laps - Not Running

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In the Pro Mazda race, Matthew Brabham took the lead at the start and led over Shelby Blackstock, Scott Anderson, Diego Ferreira, Juan Piedrahita, and Spencer Pigot.

Pigot got past Piedrahita after a few laps for fourth.

Anderson, who started second, was running in the top five when he stopped on pit lane for some kind of repairs before resuming. He then later stopped on the approach to Turn 11, bringing out a full course yellow and erasing Matthew Brabham's significant lead.

That didn't phase Brabham, though, who checked out again and brought home the win. Diego Ferreira did his best to pass Shelby Blackstock but was unable and had to settle for third.

After the race, Blackstock said that he had been hampered by an engine that didn't seem to have the usual amount of low-end torque coming off the corners. No word yet if a replacement will be needed.

UNOFFICIAL Pro Mazda Race #1 Results:

Pos Num Driver Result
1 83 Matthew Brabham 20 Laps
2 28 Shelby Blackstock 3.890 seconds
3 57 Diego Ferreira 4.132
4 81 Spencer Pigot 5.611
5 9 Juan Piedrahita 9.872
6 18 Kyle Kaiser 10.200
7 16 Lloyd Read 13.409
8 91 Kyle Connery 13.813
9 3 Julia Ballario 21.413
10 2 Jose Gutierrez 21.750
11 13 Bobby Eberle(E) 35.865
12 23 Walt Bowlin(E) 36.473
13 66 Zack Meyer 19 Laps
14 37 Jay Horak(E) 18 Laps
15 82 Nicolas Costa 9 Laps
16 44 Scott Anderson 8 Laps

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That does it for us today - back tomorrow for race day!

Sunday Schedule (all times Eastern):
9:10 - 9:50am US F2000 Race #3
10:05 - 10:45 Pro Mazda Race #2
11:00 - 11:30 IZOD IndyCar Morning Warmup
12:00 - 1:00pm Firestone Indy Lights Race (40 Laps)
3:30 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (90 Laps)

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