Only five races remain in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season, and the path to a sixth Astor Challenge Cup for Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon is clear.
Dixon, the winningest INDYCAR driver at Mid-Ohio with six wins, leads Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden by 96 points heading into the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio doubleheader this weekend. Newgarden or Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward (-119 points) will need to carve away at that lead if they want to take the title from Dixon.
Should Dixon leave Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a lead of 141 points or more, the New Zealand driver only needs to start the remaining races on the schedule to win a sixth championship. With a lead of more than 162 points or more, he can clinch the title.
Race weekend: Saturday, Sept. 12 – Sunday, Sept. 13
Track: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a 13-turn, a 2.258-mile road course in Lexington, Ohio
Race distance: 75 laps / 169.35 miles (Each race)
Push-to-pass parameters: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.
Firestone tire allotment: Nine sets primary, five sets alternate to be used during the event weekend. Teams must use one set of primary and one set of alternate tires in the race.
Twitter: @Mid_Ohio, @IndyCar, #Honda200, #INDYCAR
Event website: www.midohio.com/
INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com
2019 race winner: Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda)
2019 NTT P1 Award winner: Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet), 1:04.6802, 125.677 mph
Qualifying record: Simon Pagenaud, 1:03.8700, 127.271 mph, July 30, 2016
NBC/NBCSN telecasts: Race 1, 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 12 (live); Race 2, 1 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 13 (live); Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for the telecasts this weekend alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.
NBC Sports Gold livestreaming: Saturday’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice session and Saturday and Sunday’s qualifying sessions will stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports’ direct-to-consumer livestreaming product.
Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Jake Query and Nick Yeoman are the turn announcers. All NTT INDYCAR SERIES races are broadcast live on Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network affiliates, Sirius 211, XM 205, IndyCar.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. Live coverage of NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying is available on XM 205, IndyCar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
At-track schedule (all times local)
Saturday, Sept. 12
10:45 a.m.-noon: NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, NBC Sports Gold (live)
2:00-2:30 p.m.: Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award – Race 1 (Two groups), NBC Sports Gold (live)
4:30 p.m.: NBCSN on air
4:53 p.m.: “Drivers, start your engines”
5:00 p.m.: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio – Race 1 (75 laps/169.35 miles), NBCSN (Live)
Sunday, Sept. 13
10:15-10:45 a.m.: Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award – Race 2 (Two groups), NBC Sports Gold (Live)
12:58 p.m.: “Drivers, start your engines”
1:00 p.m.: NBC on air
1:05 p.m.: Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio – Race 2 (75 laps/169.35 miles), NBC (Live)
- Scott Dixon leads the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship with five races to go for the third time in in the last four seasons. Dixon has led the point standings after every round this season.
- Since the first Indy car race at Mid-Ohio in 1980, the winning driver has won the Indy car championship 11 times: Johnny Rutherford (1980), Mario Andretti (1984), Bobby Rahal (1986), Michael Andretti (1991), Al Unser Jr. (1994), Alex Zanardi (1997), Juan Pablo Montoya (1999), Paul Tracy (2003), Dario Franchitti (2010), Simon Pagenaud (2016) and Josef Newgarden (2017).
Key championship point statistic: Since 2008, the championship leader with five races to go has gone on to win the championship six times. Those drivers were: Scott Dixon (2008 and 2018), Dario Franchitti (2011), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2012), Simon Pagenaud (2016) and Josef Newgarden (2019).
Point differential: The 96 points that separate Scott Dixon and Josef Newgarden is the largest point margin since 2008. Prior to this season, the average lead with five races to go since 2008 was 39.6 points.
Championship-eligible drivers’ results at Mid-Ohio: Scott Dixon is the winningest Indy car driver at Mid-Ohio with six victories (2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2019). Josef Newgarden (2017), Simon Pagenaud (2016) and Graham Rahal (2015) have won at Mid-Ohio … Dixon has finished in the top five in 11 of his 15 races at Mid-Ohio.
CHAMPIONSHIP WITH 5 TO GO
|Year||Leader||Second-Place||Lead||Eventual Champion (Deficit- if any)|
|2008||Scott Dixon||Helio Castroneves||58||Scott Dixon|
|2009||Ryan Briscoe||Scott Dixon||8||Dario Franchitti (-11)|
|2010||Will Power||Dario Franchitti||41||Dario Franchitti|
|2011||Dario Franchitti||Will Power||62||Dario Franchitti|
|2012||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Will Power||34||Ryan Hunter-Reay|
|2013||Helio Castroneves||Scott Dixon||31||Scott Dixon|
|2014||Helio Castroneves||Will Power||28||Will Power|
|2015||Juan Pablo Montoya||Will Power||46||Scott Dixon (-49)|
|2016||Simon Pagenaud||Josef Newgarden||73||Simon Pagenaud|
|2017||Scott Dixon||Helio Castroneves||3||Josef Newgarden (-23)|
|2018||Scott Dixon||Josef Newgarden||62||Scott Dixon|
|2019||Josef Newgarden||Alexander Rossi||29||Josef Newgarden|
|2020||Scott Dixon||Josef Newgarden||96||???|
- The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be the 36th and 37th Indy car races at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Scott Dixon won the race in 2019. Johnny Rutherford won the first Indy car race at Mid-Ohio in 1980.
- The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be the fourth and fifth races on a road course in 2020. The first three races were won by Chip Ganassi Racing drivers – Scott Dixon (Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Road America-1) and Felix Rosenqvist (Road America-2).
- Scott Dixon is the winningest Indy car driver at Mid-Ohio with six victories (2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2019). Emerson Fittipaldi won at Mid-Ohio three times, while Michael Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Teo Fabi, Bobby Rahal, Al Unser Jr. and Alex Zanardi all won at Mid-Ohio twice. Past winners Dixon, Charlie Kimball (2013), Graham Rahal (2015), Simon Pagenaud (2016), Josef Newgarden (2017) and Alexander Rossi (2018) are entered this year.
- Will Power has won four poles at Mid-Ohio, the most of any driver. Power won the pole in 2010, 2012, 2017 and 2019. Mid-Ohio pole winners entered in this year’s race are Power, Scott Dixon (2011, 2015), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2013), Simon Pagenaud (2016) and Alexander Rossi (2018).
- Twelve drivers have won the race from the pole – Mario Andretti (1984), Bobby Rahal (1985), Roberto Guerrero (1987), Teo Fabi (1989), Michael Andretti (1990, 1991), Al Unser Jr. (1994), Alex Zanardi (1996), Patrick Carpentier (2002), Paul Tracy (2003), Scott Dixon (2011), Simon Pagenaud (2016) and Alexander Rossi (2018).
- Nineteen drivers entered in the event have competed in past Indy car races at Mid-Ohio. Scott Dixon (15) has made the most starts at Mid-Ohio among the entered drivers. Eight drivers have led laps at the track (Scott Dixon 261, Will Power 139, Josef Newgarden 89, Alexander Rossi 66, Simon Pagenaud 37, Ryan Hunter-Reay 33, Graham Rahal 26 and Felix Rosenqvist 15).
- Chip Ganassi Racing has won 11 times at Mid-Ohio, including eight of the 13 races sanctioned by INDYCAR at the track. Ganassi’s winning drivers are Alex Zanardi (1996, 1997), Juan Pablo Montoya (1999), Scott Dixon (2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2019), Dario Franchitti (2010) and Charlie Kimball (2013).
- Team Penske has nine wins at the track with Emerson Fittipaldi (1992, 1993), Al Unser Jr. (1994, 1995), Helio Castroneves (2000, 2001), Ryan Briscoe (2008), Simon Pagenaud (2016) and Josef Newgarden (2017).
- Scott Dixon has finished in the top five in 11 of his 15 starts at Mid-Ohio, including six wins between 2007 and 2019 … Will Power has finished in the top five in eight of his 11 starts at Mid-Ohio … Simon Pagenaud has finished on the podium four times in his previous nine starts.
HONDA INDY 200 AT MID-OHIO PRE-EVENT QUOTES:
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m thrilled that the series has been able to figure out how to race at Mid-Ohio. I really didn’t want to see an extended break following our win at Gateway. With that momentum, the PPG Chevy team and I are feeling really dialed in for this weekend’s races. It’s another doubleheader and the first of several road courses, and we feel pretty good about that. Qualifying is so important at Mid-Ohio, and we feel great about our plan for that. With the race, it’s all about staying out of trouble in the corners and watching restarts. My guys always put together a fast car, and I’m sure that won’t be any different this weekend.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 4 Tresiba/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I’m glad we are able to get the opportunity to race at Mid-Ohio this year. A doubleheader means double the fun around the track, which is one of my favorites. I have a lot of confidence in the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet after leaving the last road course at Road America and knowing that will translate into this weekend. Strategically, the 15-lap-shorter race adds a wrinkle in the thought process, but having won there in 2013 with a healthy dose of strategy, the opportunity exists for us to excel.”
PATO O’WARD (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “We are returning to road course action this weekend at Mid-Ohio. I think it’s going to be a good change for the championship race after having five oval races in a row. It will be a good challenge for Arrow McLaren SP, and I’m looking forward to building on the success that I had there in 2018 with Indy Lights, getting both poles and both wins. Our objective is going to be the same as it has been the past couple of weeks: qualifying up front and try to score a couple of podium finishes.”
OLIVER ASKEW (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “Mid-Ohio is one of my favorite tracks, and it was one of the most memorable weekends for me last year in Indy Lights, winning two races and extending my championship lead. I’ve been dying to get back on a road course, and I’m looking forward to the challenges that another condensed doubleheader weekend will bring us. I’m sure that Arrow McLaren SP and Chevrolet will once again give us a strong car to compete, so I’m focused on getting good results and finishing the year strong.”
MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It’s great news that the race is happening and that it’s a doubleheader. I’m very excited about that. I think we have been having a strong year so far, but maybe not having as good of results as we’ve wanted. I’m looking forward to going to Mid-Ohio and scoring some good results there. I think we can do it. We’ve been fast pretty much everywhere, so I’m feeling confident and ready to go there for a good weekend. Also, for me, I was taken out in Turn 1 of the race, so I feel like I have some unfinished business because of that. It’s a really fun, challenging track, so it’s going to be a great weekend.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I can’t imagine what it’s been like to try and organize a racing season schedule this year. I know INDYCAR and the track have been working hard to get everything in order to race this weekend at Mid-Ohio. It’s great they were able to get it done and to also put together a doubleheader race weekend. We’ve had success here in the past as a team, and we hope to continue to build on that this weekend and carry that through to the remaining races on the schedule for 2020 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It’s good to have Mid-Ohio confirmed finally. I think it’s a race that everyone wanted to make sure it happens. It’s especially exciting that we have a doubleheader. It’s a track that’s historically been really good for Chip Ganassi Racing. I can look back at last year with our P1 and P2 finish for me and Scott. There’s definitely something to be shown there on my side. I think I felt like I could fight for the win last year. With two attempts this weekend, it’s going to be a good weekend, for sure. I’m looking forward to it.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m really looking forward to racing at Mid-Ohio, and it’s nice to have a few road course races in a row. We haven’t had one since the Road America weekend – a lot of ovals in a row. But it’s a fun track, a place with so many technical corners. It can be difficult but also really fun to race there. We’ve started on the pole there a few times, but it’s one of the tracks I haven’t won at yet. It’s been a goal of mine to get a win there, and I’m excited to have two chances to try and make it happen. We have a really fast Verizon Chevrolet ready to go.”
DALTON KELLETT (No. 14 K-Line USA AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I am very excited for the doubleheader at Mid-Ohio and thankful for the efforts of INDYCAR, Green Savoree Promotions and the State of Ohio for surmounting the challenges of rescheduling the race. It’s one of my favorite tracks. I love the technical and fast-paced nature of the layout. This weekend will be physically and mentally challenging, for both crew and drivers. It shouldn’t be quite as hot as the Indy GP, but you can’t discount the physical nature of this place. There’s not much time to relax. It will be good to jump back in the No. 14 and continue to work on our road course package. Given the condensed schedule, we’re doing more development during race weekends than we might on a typical year. That means it will be important for me to give the engineers accurate feedback in practice, so we can get it right for the race. Every session is an opportunity to learn.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 United Rentals (Race 1)/Fifth Third Bank (Race 2) Honda): “I’m excited to get back home. It’s going to be very physical. I think everybody expects that it’s going to be a tough weekend for all of us, but I feel good about my physical condition. I am excited to continue on down this path and get back to racing. Clearly having a doubleheader at home is always going to be fun for me. I’m looking forward to that challenge. We have been competitive pretty much everywhere with the exception of the short ovals, where we struggled. I’m pleased with what I’ve seen on road courses. I think the guys have done an amazing job, but we’ve just got to keep our heads down and keep pushing to try to improve a little bit further. We were competitive at the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis and at Road America. We didn’t maximize that, but I feel like there is a lot of positive thoughts and beliefs to carry forward. We know that we can be right in the hunt there, so I fully anticipate us doing that. From a strategy standpoint, 75 laps is probably going to be a two-stop race, no problem. It is going to be still physically tiring. The pit stops are going to be critical, obviously, as will not putting a wheel wrong on track. Typically, the weather is hot and steamy this time of year, which does breed more and more mistakes. I think INDYCAR is doing a great job to get these races in. From our standpoint, we’ve got to do the best that we can for all of our partners. We’re going to run the United Rentals car on Saturday and switch overnight to the Fifth Third Bank car and hope we can get a good result in both races for them. We’ve got some opportunities ahead of us with five races on tracks we should be good at. We feel like we’ve been better than a lot of the guys ahead of us or around us in points, and we’re going to try to make this our best season yet.”
SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “I’m super excited to be back in the SealMaster Honda at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. It’s a fantastic racetrack and going to be a lot of fun. I’m especially looking forward to the fact that it’s a doubleheader. I can’t wait to get back on track and hopefully we can give our sponsors and the fans the kind of show and result they deserve.”
CONOR DALY (No. 20 U.S. Air Force Chevrolet): “I’ve always enjoyed going to Mid-Ohio, such a great track in the Midwest. I’ve had some reasonable success there, qualified decent and led some laps. It feels like forever since we’ve been to a road course, so it will be nice to get back to that. Hopefully we’ll qualify up front, finish up front and get a lot of points.”
RINUS VEEKAY (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “I’m very excited we’re finally going to Mid-Ohio. We’ve been waiting a while to find out if it was going happen. I had a very important test with Ed Carpenter Racing there last October. Good memories already with the team. Also good memories in the Road to Indy, where I never finished off the podium and have two wins. I love the track and the atmosphere around it. The season is getting close to the end now. We’ve had a few good races, and it’s important to keep this momentum going.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m so excited to have DXC Technology back on my Chevrolet for Mid-Ohio. For the rest of the season, we’ll be racing on road courses or a street course, so we have had to shift our thinking from the last few races that were all on ovals. Whatever we learn between the two races at Mid-Ohio can be really valuable for the rest of the season. In that case and my crew has been working really hard with that in mind. We are ready for the fight and aiming for race wins.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda): “A doubleheader at Mid-Ohio will be more physical than (having a doubleheader at) Road America, for sure. Mid-Ohio doesn’t have several long straights like Road America and has constantly continuous corners with a relatively short lap, so it’s difficult to get any rest during a lap. However, I think the doubleheader is a good thing for the sport for this season under the circumstances. It’s certainly more challenging for a doubleheader weekend because naturally you lose a session for practice, and it becomes a very compressed time schedule so engineers won’t have a enough time to analyze the data. The track’s characteristics are different, but we believe we can carry good knowledge from the road course races at Indianapolis and Road America.” (About being fourth in point standings): “We just try hard to have a strong race for each weekend and produce the best possible result. It’s extremely important to have strong finishes for the standings. Mathematically, I think it’s (championship) still possible, but I think Scott (Dixon) is on the way to win. Still, we achieved a big win at Indy and another podium at St. Louis and want to end the season strong. We’re doing everything we can.”
ALEX PALOU (No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda): “I’m super excited to be heading back to a road course this weekend at Mid-Ohio after doing six oval races in nine events so far this season. I’ve had great fun on the ovals and learned a lot. We had really good pace but unfortunately no strong results to show for it. So, I’m really looking forward to Mid-Ohio this weekend. It’s the first track that I’m going to this year that I’ve driven on before, so I know what to expect. It’s an environment that I’m much more comfortable with, and our car has been strong on road courses. My confidence is 100 percent. I will definitely be more in ‘push’ mode versus ‘rookie’ mode. Hopefully, we can get our first win at Mid-Ohio. Plus, it’s a doubleheader weekend, so it’s a great opportunity for us to maximize our results. I can’t wait to get on track.”
MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “I know how hard everyone at INDYCAR and the track have been working to make sure we get back to Mid-Ohio this weekend, and I’m thrilled they were able to not only get us back but get us a doubleheader with fans! I’m a big fan of Mid-Ohio, and we’ve qualified well there in the past, so I’m really looking forward to carrying the momentum the team has from Gateway into this weekend and hopefully getting two more top-10 finishes.”
JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda): “It goes without saying how important Mid-Ohio is; it’s the boss man’s (Michael Shank) home race. It’s obviously a special race for the entire team because it’s their home track, but it’s also where I got my first win in North America, so it’s really special to me, as well. I feel like at Mid-Ohio we have consistently been getting better and better and better. Mid-Ohio was probably one of our most consistent weekends last year, which is what we always hope to try and do. And now this year our goal is to just move up the time sheet. I think this year we’ve shown that we are fast. we qualified second at the Indy GP and Road America. We’ve run up front, but now we just need a little bit more racing luck to get the results at the end of the day.”