The Super Summer Schedule Sprint begins Sunday in Mid-Ohio

Halfway through the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season is upon us, with creators yet to be determined. A championship is to be won in the next nine races, with a Rookie of the Year title at stake. who will rise Who will show up?

Answers to the questions begin with this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 being presented by the all-new 2023 Civic Type R at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson, the winner of the Gainbridge presented Indianapolis 500, has a 27-point lead over Team Penske’s Will Power, but one of Power’s teammates – Josef Newgarden – should be kept in mind.

By thirty-two points, Newgarden leads the streak with three race wins and put on a dominating performance at the most recent race, AMR presented Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America. And many of Newgarden’s best tracks are still on this schedule.

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No fewer than 11 drivers are still firmly in contention for this year’s Astor Challenge Cup, which will be awarded to this year’s champion. None of the rookies are expected to be in contention for the crown, but they have an interesting Rookie of the Year race to decide.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard leads Dale Coyne Racing’s David Malukas with HMD by 17 points, with AJ Foyt Racing’s Kyle Kirkwood, Juncos Hollinger Racing’s Callum Ilott and Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport’s Devlin DeFrancesco just behind.

The remainder of the schedule is balanced, with Mid-Ohio being one of four permanent road courses yet to be contested. The July 17 Toronto Honda Indy 200 is one of two road courses to come, and the July 23-24 Hy-Vee-sponsored doubleheader at Iowa Speedway represents two of the three remaining oval events.

With five races in July, the stakes are high. Hardware is in preparation.

With that in mind, here are five things to watch as Friday’s action kicks off in Mid-Ohio:

Mid-Ohio: Dixon’s Trail

There is only one track on the current NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule – Toronto’s Exhibition Place – where a driver has won more races than Scott Dixon in Mid-Ohio.

Dixon has been on the winning track six times at the 2.258-mile, 13-corner street circuit, most recently in 2019. The number 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda rider won his first in 2007 in a streak of five wins in eight years. No other driver has won more than two NTT INDYCAR SERIES races in Mid-Ohio.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES has held 16 races in Mid-Ohio since 2007 and Dixon has finished in the top five 12 times. And don’t worry too much about where he qualifies in Saturday’s NTT P1 Award qualifier. Dixon has only won once from pole (2011) and once from behind (2014). His average starting position in his wins is 7.3.

Dixon goes into the weekend sixth in the table, 69 points ahead of the top. But as this is a track he excels at, he could make a big dent in the deficit this weekend.

For the curious, Michael Andretti won seven times in Toronto. Al Unser Jr. recorded six wins in Long Beach, California.

Also Ganassi’s trace

Yes, Dixon led Chip Ganassi Racing at Mid-Ohio, but he’s not the only team rider to hit the winning streak. Dario Franchitti did so in 2010, and Charlie Kimball got his only consecutive win there in 2013. Overall, the team has 11 victories on the track, the first three in the previous INDYCAR era.

In 2019, Dixon held off then-teammate Felix Rosenqvist (he now drives the No.7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet) for victory by 0.0934s, the closest 1-2 in event history. Kimball’s win is the fastest race on track (117.825 mph over 90 laps).

Marcus Ericsson (Ridgeline Lubricants No. 8 Honda) and reigning Series Champion Alex Palou (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) finished second and third respectively last year.

Even former Ganassi riders have done well at Mid-Ohio. Graham Rahal certainly used some of his experience to put Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing on the road to victory in 2015. Rahal will be fielded in the No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda this weekend.

Most recently: Team Penske

For all of CGR’s dominance, Team Penske has been strong lately in Mid-Ohio. Josef Newgarden (No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet) won from pole last year – he also won in 2017 – and Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet) has led all drivers with five career poles at track. He won the first race of the 2020 doubleheader from pole position.

Simon Pagenaud, who now drives the #60 AutoNation/SiriusXM Honda for Meyer Shank Racing) also won for Team Penske in 2016.

Power and Newgarden are ready to attack Ericsson’s points lead should he stumble. Newgarden has a strong second half in mind. He has race wins at five of the remaining eight tracks, with a total of six wins at the two oval tracks (Iowa Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway). He also won twice in Toronto and once on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway street course, site of the July 30 Gallagher Grand Prix.

Power has won six races combined at the tracks remaining on this schedule. He has won three times at Toronto and once each at Mid-Ohio, World Wide Technology Raceway and Portland International Raceway.

Andretti Autosport drivers Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda) and Colton Herta (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda by Andretti Autosport w/Curb-Agajanian) are the other former Mid-Ohio race winners in this weekend’s field. They won in 2018 and 2020.

Twenty-seven car-driver combinations are entered, including Simona De Silvestro (No. 16 Paretta Autosport Chevrolet), who tested on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway street course last week.

Kirkwood One to Watch

Of all the NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookies, Kyle Kirkwood (No. 14 ROKiT/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet) has enjoyed the most success at Mid-Ohio, winning three of last year’s four Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires races. Kirkwood is third among the rookie riders overall, 47 points behind Christian Lundgaard (No.30 Hendrickson Honda).

This is Lundgaard’s 10th series race and he has had two top 10 finishes in his last four starts. He also expects to benefit from a team test at Sebring International Raceway earlier this week. David Malukas (No.18 HMD Honda) qualified sixth for last month’s race in Detroit so will be keeping an eye on him here. Callum Ilott (#77 Chevrolet Juncos Hollinger Racing) placed eighth in the GMR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway street course.

Linus Lundqvist, driving HMD Motorsports’ No. 26 with Dale Coyne Racing, won last year’s other Indy Lights race at Mid-Ohio, the season finale, which was held in the rain. and he’s about to build an unassailable lead in the series standings. The 23-year-old native of Hedensted in Denmark leads Andretti Autosport’s Sting Ray Robb with 82 points.

Busy weekend schedule

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES highlights what will be a full weekend of track action in Lexington, Ohio. The schedule includes all four tiers of open wheel racing, including USF2000, Indy Pro 2000 and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires.

The first practice of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will take place on Friday at 15:30 ET. Teams can use a set of alternate Firestone Firehawk tires during the session and return them afterwards. The second practice session on Saturday is at 9:30 a.m. Both sessions will be broadcast live on NBC’s streaming service, Peacock Premium.

The 3 round NTT P1 Award qualifier takes place on Saturday at 2:45pm, also on Peacock Premium. A final practice takes place on Sunday at 9:45am live on Peacock Premium.

The green flag for the Honda Indy 200 in Mid-Ohio, presented by the all-new 2023 Civic Type R, is scheduled for 12:53 p.m. with live NBC coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m. The transmission of the INDYCAR Radio Network starts at 12:00 p.m. at network partners, SiriusXM 160, and the INDYCAR app powered by NTT DATA.

The 35-lap race of Indy Lights at Mid-Ohio begins Sunday at 10:35 am live on Peacock Premium.

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