A doubleheader at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course produced two more winners in the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.
Will Power and Colton Herta became the sixth and seventh different winners through the first 11 races of the season, matching the number of winners in the 17 races in 2019.
Only three races remain on the schedule with the INDYCAR Harvest GP doubleheader up next Oct. 2-3 on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course preceding the rescheduled Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Oct. 25.
Here’s what we learned from the pair of races at Mid-Ohio.
The Title Race Isn’t Over
Josef Newgarden isn’t ready to hand the NTT INDYCAR SERIES title to Scott Dixon.
Two-time and defending series champion Newgarden cut 24 points from Dixon’s 96-point advantage by recording a pair of top-10 finishes at Mid-Ohio. Most of the damage was done Saturday when Newgarden finished second, while Dixon rebounded from a 17th-place qualifying effort to finish 10th.
Dixon, a five-time series champion, also made a rare mistake in Sunday’s Race 2, when a spin while running with the leaders left him chasing from the back of the pack. Only a dramatic last-lap pass of Rinus VeeKay in Turn 4 allowed Dixon to record another top-10 and save from losing more points to Newgarden.
“On the turn when I spun out, I just had a bunch of guys in front of me on alternate tires, and I got too aggressive,” Dixon said. “I got on the overtake button at the exit of Turn 1 and spun the tires and spun the car. It was just a stupid, rookie mistake, and I feel bad for the PNC Bank team. Obviously, the car proved to be fast after that. We managed to fight back until the very end and pick up some spots. But overall we should have never been in that position to begin with.”
With a 72-point deficit heading back to Indianapolis, Newgarden knows he’ll have to take advantage of days when Dixon has uncharacteristic performances.
“We just can't have any mistakes,” Newgarden said. “Look, it's a big mountain for us to climb right now, and we've certainly used up all our bad luck for the year, so we don't really have much to give away, but we're just going to keep our heads down. We've got a good group and got to keep our heads down and try and make the most of it again tomorrow and try and close this year out as best as possible with Team Penske.”
There’s no place like home for Graham Rahal.
The native of New Albany, Ohio, rinsed the bitter taste of a tough weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway out of his mouth by notching a pair of fourth-place finishes at Mid-Ohio.
by notching a pair of fourth-place finishes at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
“Two fourth-place finishes here is not too bad,” Rahal said. “We would have liked to gain a little more points on the guys ahead, but we’ll take it. I think we closed the gap to some. That was as physical of a weekend as you are going to have. This weekend we raised $7,500 for Turns for Troops with United Rentals, so that’s another thing to be happy about.”
The performance also adds momentum for the No. 15 RLLR team heading into the INDYCAR Harvest GP doubleheader Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, where Rahal finished second in the GMR Grand Prix on July 4.
Season-Ending Power Play
Over the last five seasons, there has been no better finisher in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES than Will Power.
Since 2016, Power has recorded a win in the final third of the season six times, including Saturday’s win in Race 1 at Mid-Ohio.
With the season concluding with a doubleheader at the IMS Road Course – where he’s won three times – and the streets of St. Petersburg – where Power has two wins and eight poles – the time seems right for a “Power Play.”
“You know, sometimes things don't flow for you, and it's starting to click for us now,” Power said. “You know, just going to go out there and keep doing the same stuff. I mean, I've got very good guys on my car, obviously have a very good car and team, and just got to execute. It's definitely not over for us to be top three, I think, if we had a really good finish. That's kind of as a team what we'd be aiming for, and I'm going to try to do my best to execute that.
“Obviously, again, the start of our season just put us in a hole, and we're kind of getting together now, but I think it'll be good momentum going into next year. At some point it's going to go right for us as far as the beginning of the year and being in the actual points hunt.”