Race Report: Race 2 – Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio—The second race of the Honda Indy 200 did not look much different than the first for the AJ Foyt Racing team results-wise but both the veteran and the rookie took away some positives from a challenging weekend at the central Ohio track.

Qualifying this morning was a bit of a struggle for all of the cars at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course due to the rain that preceded the session. Nearly everyone in the first group spun off track including Charlie Kimball. The car stalled which brought out the red flag relegating him to last in his group. In the next group yesterday’s winner Will Power did the same. Moments later Jack Harvey backed it into a tire barrier and then Pato O’Ward brought out another red flag with his spin. When the sessions were finally completed, Kimball would start 22nd and teammate Dalton Kellett, who never went off track in the wet, would start 20th.

The rain moved out by race time and the race got underway. Starting outside pole, Santino Ferrucci dropped a wheel off track as he tried to move past leader Colton Herta heading into Turn 4. Driving through the grass he re-entered in Turn 5 and bounced off several cars like a cue ball knocking out his teammate Alex Palou and Felix Rosenqvist. They were done and Ferrucci was sent to the back of the field, penalized for avoidable contact.

Kellett avoided the melee and moved into 15th while Kimball was in 20th but the team pitted him to take a splash of fuel since it wouldn’t cost him anything. Kellett dropped to 16th with Max Chilton’s pass on lap five. He was holding his own despite being pressured by Takuma Sato but unfortunately, a small mistake going into Turn 1 on lap 15 cost him. He spun off into the gravel pit and the car stalled. A full course caution ensued but It took two laps to be retrieved by the AMR safety crew.

When Kellett made it back to the pits, the team saw that the underwing was damaged but he returned to the race for the experience. The rookie worked on saving fuel and making sure he didn’t interfere with the leaders on track. With the damaged underwing, the car lost quite a bit of downforce making it a long day in the cockpit. He placed 21st.

Kimball wasn’t able to make much headway even though the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet was better from the overnight changes. Aside from the two early cautions, the rest of the race went nonstop. He placed 19th.

Kimball in post-race discussion with Larry Foyt.

“I definitely think we made the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet better overnight from race one to race two,” said Kimball. This morning obviously was unfortunate with the spin in the wet so we started last and around here at Mid-Ohio it’s so hard to pass. The guys did a great job in pit lane. We were able to hit the fuel number we needed to get to the end of the race, so on that side of things I think we checked some boxes, learned some things, learned a little bit about the car as we head to the doubleheader at the Harvest Grand Prix back on the Indy road course. We’ll take what we learned from there in July, what we learned from here, put it together and hopefully come up with a good package off the truck.”

Kellett was philosophical about his race in the No. 14 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet.

Kellett listens to race engineer Daniele Cucchiaroni (right) as driver coach Darren Manning looks on.

“The only thing you can do on a day like today is take the positives and learn from what went wrong,” the young Canadian said afterwards. “The team made some good changes from qualifying to the race. For the first half of the first stint, the car felt really good, we were on pace with the guys around us. Our speed was pretty competitive on the alternate Firestones. Just a little mistake on my part on the downshift, it got loose into [Turn] 1 and I couldn’t save it. When I backed it into the gravel, we damaged the underwing pretty bad so it was a big loss in downforce. The rest of the race was more of an exercise in keeping the car on the track and trying not to get in the way of the leaders and the cars that weren’t damaged and kind of chugging along. It’s one we’ll have to file away and come back stronger for the Harvest GP.”

Herta scored the third victory of his career and led his teammates to a podium sweep with Alexander Rossi finishing second and Ryan Hunter-Reay third. Graham Rahal and Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top-five.

The NTT INDYCAR Series takes a two week break before returning to action in Indianapolis for the Harvest Grand Prix doubleheader on Oct. 2-3.