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Mid-Ohio thoughts...

by
Chris Estrada
| Aug 07, 2011

 

Earlier this summer, the talk was all about how Dario Franchitti could wind up losing the IZOD IndyCar Series championship after coming out on the short end of the halftime “blind draw” at the Firestone Twin 275s in Texas.

Now all the talk is about where Dario Franchitti keeps all his horseshoes, four-leaf clovers and rabbit’s feet. His teammate Scott Dixon may have finally one-upped the Scotsman yesterday at Mid-Ohio, but just like Dixie, Franchitti was the recipient of more good luck whereas his title rival Will Power got burned.

Dixon and Franchitti both managed to pit just before Graham Rahal lost a Lap 57 battle in the Keyhole with Danica Patrick and was sent into the dirt to bring out a full course yellow. But Power and Team Penske teammate Ryan Briscoe hadn’t made their final stops yet and were forced to pit under yellow, knocking them back into the pack. Power and Briscoe wound up 14th and 16th respectively, while Dixon and Franchitti celebrated a 1-2 finish.

“I've done a lot of these races and I've probably still lost more races from bad luck than I've won from good luck,” said Franchitti about the twist of fate that bumped his points lead over Power to 62 markers going into Sunday’s MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 at New Hampshire.

“These things have a habit of balancing out over the years. So I'll take the good luck as long as it keeps coming.”

As for Power, he was forced to comprehend the results.

“We were making great fuel mileage and we were going to go a lap or two longer than the leaders on the second stop, which would have put us in great position to challenge for the race lead in the last stint,” he said.

“Basically, today, we suffered for doing a great job of driving a smart race. I have to thank the crew -- they gave me great pit stops today. We just got caught out by that last yellow flag.”

Power’s ill-fated run at Chicagoland Speedway last year opened the door for Franchitti to eventually catch and defeat him for the 2010 championship, and now, Power needs a similar fate to befall Franchitti to get back into the fight for the 2011 crown. If he doesn’t get it, then Mid-Ohio will surely be remembered as the turning point in this year’s title race.

It should all make for a very interesting trip to the Granite State this weekend.

--

While the IZOD IndyCar Series focused on this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the future of the series continued to get closer.

Today and tomorrow, Mid-Ohio will host the first track test for the new 2012 Dallara chassis, with Indianapolis 500 champs Bryan Herta Autosport and driver Dan Wheldon at the controls. A Honda V-6 will power the chassis for the initial test, but in a report last week from SPEEDTV.com’s Marshall Pruett, all three engine makers – Honda, Chevrolet and Lotus – will own their own chassis to conduct tests. On-track testing for all the brands starts in October.

Meanwhile, Honda continues to shore up its roster for 2012 as Sam Schmidt Motorsports announced last Friday that they’ll be powered by the Big H next season, joining Target Chip Ganassi Racing and A.J. Foyt Racing.

We’ve yet to see any teams outside of Team Penske officially hook up with Chevrolet, while Lotus continues to search for customers. But Honda already seems to be making a strong group for itself with the reigning IndyCar champions in TCGR, a series stalwart in Foyt, and now, a team on the rise with SSM.

“Honda’s success both on and off the track is unmatched,” said Schmidt in a Honda press release. “I believe its total commitment to performance, reliability and integrity as a company is perfectly aligned with the goals of Sam Schmidt Motorsports and its partners. We look forward to what we hope will be a long and very productive relationship.”

But while SSM may be sticking with Honda, they may not be able to stick with Alex Tagliani for much longer. As reported by Trackside Online (whose at-the-track e-mail updates come free with your INDYCAR Nation membership), the pride of Quebec is confirmed to drive the No. 77 through New Hampshire but could give way to a driver that might be in their 2012 plans.

One hopes that it won’t come to that, as “Tag” and SSM have managed to garner a loyal following (no doubt helped by their Indianapolis 500 pole run) this season. But as we all know, business is business…

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