It’s the last weekend in July and time for the NTT IndyCar Series to stage its annual race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the “Scott Dixon Indy 200.”
Dixon ($30) has visited victory lane at Mid-Ohio five times in 14 starts. He has finished in the top five 10 times and led 223 laps, which trails only Michael Andretti in that category.
Past results factored into my decision to choose the Kiwi to anchor my NTT IndyCar Series Fantasy Challenge driven by Firestone this weekend, but they weren’t the only factor.
The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio is the fifth natural terrain road course race of the season and the points leader in those road course races -- at Circuit Of The Americas, Barber Motorsports Park, Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Road America? Dixon, whose 131 points in those races ranks the highest of any driver.
The Chip Ganassi Racing veteran’s average finish on natural terrain road courses is 3.3, and it would be lower if not for an exceptional drive in the rain by Simon Pagenaud on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. That took away a potential win for Dixon.
This is where it gets tricky. Do I draft in one more high-priced option and go bargain basement with my final two drivers, or do I grab a couple of mid-priced options that could overachieve?
Alexander Rossi blitzed the field at Road America in June. However, the $33 price tag leaves me with few viable options to round out my foursome.
If 2015 Honda Indy 200 winner Graham Rahal ($25) promises to stay out of “trouble” this weekend, the Ohioan is a great value pick.
Rahal is on a run of seven straight top-10 finishes and has scored the fifth-most points over the past five NTT IndyCar Series races. The third-generation driver always kicks the intensity dial to an 11 at his home race and in his last five Mid-Ohio has finished in the top-five four times.
“Mid-Ohio has always been extremely special for me, it’s my hometown race,” Rahal said. “There is great fan support which is probably the best part of it for me. I grew up going there, and it is really one of the races that made me fall in love with Indy car racing. I have been very fortunate to win it in 2015, which is probably my best memory ever in racing. I hope this year with Fifth Third Bank on the car -- another Ohio company -- that we can get it done again.”
That leaves me with $45 to spend on my final two fantasy team hires.
Whether it’s bad luck or self-inflicted damage, Will Power ($27) has had a miserable, for him, start to the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season. I don’t generally take drivers that are mired in a slump, but I have a gut feeling this is the race weekend that the Aussie breaks his 14-race winless drought.
The Team Penske veteran finished a solid second in his last road course outing at another classic American road course, Road America. Don’t forget that Power dominated the first road course race of the year in Austin, Texas. He led the first 45 laps before a transmission issue relegated him to a last place finish.
Dixon, Rahal and Power set me back $82, leaving me with a choice between Matheus Leist and RC Enerson.
Leist has more recent seat time but newcomer Enerson ($18) has had better career results on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio circuit, leading me to choose the pilot of the No. 31 Lucas Oil School Chevrolet.
Enerson has a win in USF2000 and Indy Lights at Mid-Ohio and was impressive in his NTT IndyCar Series debut in 2016, turning in the third quickest lap of the race.
Don’t forget to enter your picks at http://fantasy.indycar.com/my-lineup. Even if you haven’t signed up yet, there are some great weekly prizes still available.