Race Preview: Mid-Ohio



Posted on 06/29/2023

Race Preview: Mid-Ohio

With a recent 250th milestone victory under their belt, Chip Ganassi Racing arrives at Mid-Ohio on a wave of momentum ranking first (Palou: 324) and second (Ericsson: 250) in the points standings.

CGR has been dominant this season, leading in wins (4), podiums (8), and laps led (254 out of 965) as a collective team. All five CGR drivers have now led a lap this year as Marcus Armstrong took command of the field for the first time in his INDYCAR career at Road America.

The team enters the Mid-Ohio race weekend with an impressive track record, having claimed victory in the race a remarkable 11 times.

Scott Dixon himself holds the track record with six wins and 261 laps led. 2021 champion and current points leader Alex Palou is knocking on the door for his first win at Mid-Ohio, having earned a P2 finish in 2022 and a P3 finish in 2021.

INDYCAR coverage will continue this weekend on USA and Peacock, with the 80-lap shootout ensuing at 1:53 p.m. ET on Sunday.

Alex Palou - No. 10 American Legion Honda

"This has always been a really good race for us and the team in general. I remember a crazy race in 2020 and seeing Scott and Felix battle on different strategies with CGR. The atmosphere is great and it's a Honda race, so we want to go get good results for them. It's a road course that I love because it's really tricky and it's not easy to get a good lap around there with things being so crazy in sectors two and three. But after a good few races that we've had, we want to continue on the roll that we're having and score more wins."

Palou has been racing at an astonishing level of late, earning race wins in three of the past four contests. In that outlier, the Indianapolis 500, Palou started the race from pole position, was later hit by a competitor in pit lane and nonetheless battled his way back impressively to a P4 finish. 

He leads the series in both average finishing result (3.5) and average starting position (3.5) this year. In fact, Palou has posted the third-best average finishing result by any driver through the first eight races of a season since reunification in 2008 (Dixon: 3.125 in 2020; Castroneves: 3.286 in 2008).

Palou has led more laps (196) than anyone this season and has assumed front-runner position in six of the eight races thus far.  

Marcus Ericsson - No. 8 Huski Ice Spritz Honda

"This will be another natural road course, which reminds me a lot of the tracks I drove in Europe racing over there. It's a track that I enjoy driving because it's quite fun, especially the section between turns four and nine. It's very technical and a key part of the track. The race weekend atmosphere is something I always look forward to with people out there camping. For us, we've had some good memories at the track finishing second two years ago quite close to winning. I think we should be strong there and I'm really looking forward to it."

Consistency has been the key for Marcus Ericsson and the No. 8 team. They sit second in the points standings thanks to a top-10 finish in all eight races this season, something only three other drivers have done to kick off a season since series reunification in 2008 (Palou – 2023; Castroneves – 2017; Power – 2014).

With another top-10 finish, they would be the first to do so in nine consecutive races in that span. 

Ericsson came close to a Mid-Ohio win with CGR in 2021, securing a P2 finish less than a second away from the race winner.

Scott Dixon - No. 9 PNC Bank Women in Motorsports Honda 

"We all had really good cars at the last few road courses. Obviously, Alex has been on a very good run so we need to have a great weekend to work on the championship positions. We should be confident with what we've done previously this year, but as always it will be interesting to see how the weekend goes with the tough competition. We need to make sure we roll off good, but it's been a great track for us in the past and hopefully we continue that success."

In what will be the 40th INDYCAR race at Mid-Ohio this year, Scott Dixon is set to become the first to ever reach the 20-start mark at the track. He’s been exceptional at the Lexington, Ohio, road course, having won more races (6) and led more laps (261) than anyone else.

Dixon also led one of the most impressive drives in recent INDYCAR history, taking the Mid-Ohio victory in 2014 from P22 position. That remains the second-furthest starting position by a race winner on a road or street course in series history (Papis: P25 at Laguna Seca in 2001).

He has showcased his exceptional improvement in qualifying this season with an average starting position of 7.875, the fourth-best mark among the full-time field.

Marcus Armstrong - No. 11 Ridgeline Lubricants Honda

"This will be a new track for me. It looks very technical and quite similar to a circuit that I grew up driving in New Zealand with a lot of elevation changes and difficult to maximize. I think it will take a few laps to get used to during practice, but after that, I'm confident that we will make the best of it."

Armstrong will look for redemption at Mid-Ohio after a dazzling start to his race at Road America ended in a P24 result. He led the race from laps 26 to 30 before battling through adversity for the remainder of the day. 

He has been quite the strong qualifier to kick off the year, advancing to the round of 12 in four of his six races.