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Locks, Drops, & Sleepers: Honda Indy 200

Chris Estrada, Zachary Houghton, and Steve Wittich
| Aug 02, 2012

With only four races remaining on the schedule, the pressure mounts for each of the championship contenders to not stumble in their quest for the IZOD IndyCar Series title. Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will see fortunes (and championship hopes) rise and fall. This late in the season, INDYCAR Fantasy Racing owners are also chasing their championship hopes. That’s why our fantasy pundits are back with another round of Locks, Drops, and Sleepers:

Chris Estrada, IndyRacingRevolution.com
Lock: Scott Dixon
Dixon remains on the fringe of the championship battle (fourth place, 61 points behind), but he has a great chance to make up ground this weekend at Mid-Ohio. Since his win at Belle Isle in June, the two-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion has only had one Top-5 finish. But with three victories and five Top-5 finishes in five series starts at M-O, he’ll be one of the drivers to watch. Title hopes aside, Dixon should have a good points day.
Drop: J.R. Hildebrand
With finishes of 16th and 25th in his last two starts at Mid-Ohio, Hildebrand will have to hope that the third time will indeed be the charm. M-O isn’t the best place for passing, so getting out of Q1 on Saturday is going to be critical for him to have a shot this weekend. Starting in the middle of the pack has been the norm for him this season; he’s only had two Top-10 starts in 11 races.
Sleeper: Alex Tagliani
The Quebec native may have faded in the second half of the race at Edmonton, but his fifth-place finish there was still the best of his 2012 campaign. Tagliani has experience at M-O dating back to his CART days, and in his previous two IZOD IndyCar Series starts at the track, he’s placed fourth in 2010 and sixth in 2011.

Zachary Houghton, IndyCarAdvocate.com

Lock: Scott Dixon
There are two very good reason to choose Scott Dixon this week. One, he really needs a win (or close to it) to stay in contention for the IICS title, and we know the “Iceman” responds well to pressure. Second, this is Mid-Ohio, a track he’s dominated with three victories. If Dixie is going to get another win this season, Mid-Ohio seems an immensely safe bet.

Drop: Mike Conway
Conway is often a sleeper pick on road or street courses, but he’s had two indifferent outings at Mid-Ohio, neither qualifying or running particularly well here. The taciturn English racer has a way of magically showing up on some race weekends, but it seems doubtful this would be one of those weekends.

Sleeper: Alex Tagliani
Bryan Herta’s crew has qualified very well on the twisties since coming over to Honda, and there’s no reason to think Mid-Ohio won’t bring more of the same. Tagliani has a very solid history at this track, and coming off a very good showing at Edmonton, he should have momentum on this side. The Bryan Herta Autosport crew seems to be gaining strength as the season progresses, and that makes Tag an intriguing pick in Lexington.

Steve Wittich, IndyCar Nation Contributor

Lock: Scott Dixon
It is an even numbered year and with wins in 2007, 2009, & 2011 (see a pattern) it might be prudent to look elsewhere for your lock this week.  But don’t kid yourself; Scott’s 3rd and 5th place finishes in the even numbered years make a solid finish as close to a certainty as possible.  There is something about The Keyhole, Madness, Thunder Valley, The Carousel and fried bologna sandwiches that brings out the best in this Kiwi.

Drop: James Hinchcliffe
James ran up front in his IndyCar debut at Mid-Ohio last year and tends to have great pace on natural terrain courses.  Between mechanical failures (Toronto), mistakes (Iowa), and mid-pack pace (Edmonton), something just isn’t quite right in Hinchtown.  It could be a delayed sophomore slump or just a string of bad luck, but I don’t expect the Go-Daddy gang to break out of it quite yet. 

Sleeper: Alex Tagliani
This is a team and driver poised for a podium.  This close knit team has overcome an engine manufacturer change, not having the benefits of a multiple car team and a lack of testing to race their way into the previous three fast six shootouts.  The small gremlins that plagued them early in the switch from Lotus to Honda have disappeared, and they were able to test at Mid-Ohio last week.  Add all this to the fact that Alex has six top 10’s in his six visits to Mid-Ohio, and you have your sleeper.

1 Comment

  1. 1 J Ruse 21 Aug
     Are you Kidding, Will, Dario, and both Ryan's. Not to mention Hello. All 3 of your Pk's Scott, And Alex. Looks like you are entering a Very BAD CORNER, Watch that corner EXIT........

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