INDYCAR Writers’ Roundtable, Vol. 11: Who Owns What Track?

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Note: Today’s guest panelist on the INDYCAR Writers’ Roundtable is Katie Kiel. She became hooked on motorsports at age 9, when she first raced a quarter midget. She raced across the country for over a decade before getting out of the driver's seat and in front of the camera. Now Katie travels with INDYCAR as a host and reporter.

Today’s question: It’s been proven time and again that Scott Dixon is the king of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. If you had to pick another active driver to be almost a lock to win at another current track, what’s your choice?

Katie Kiel: It's hard to compare Scott Dixon's dominance at Mid-Ohio with any current driver's record simply because Dixon has been the king of Mid-Ohio since INDYCAR returned to the course in 2007, when he won straight out of the gate. That said, Josef Newgarden at Barber Motorsports Park seems to be on that same trend. Although he did not win in his first appearance in Alabama, he scored his first career NTT INDYCAR SERIES win at the Augusta of racetracks in 2015. He then went on to win two more times by 2018. That's no easy feat in a field covered by less than one second. We were robbed of another stunning drive in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but I'm looking forward to redemption by opening this season April 18 in Josef's playground.

Curt Cavin: Yep, Katie nailed it. Let’s establish up front that no driver currently in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES can match Dixon’s Mid-Ohio dominance, but one who comes close is Josef Newgarden at Barber Motorsports Park (three wins in the past five races, with two different teams, no less). Another driver who comes to mind is Sebastien Bourdais at St. Petersburg, a street circuit near his U.S. home. Bourdais won the 2017 and 2018 races for Dale Coyne Racing -- he started 21st and 14th, respectively – and he finished fourth last year for AJ Foyt Racing.

Zach Horrall: Sure, Scott Dixon is the king of Mid-Ohio, and he’s produced a dominance that is hard to rival, but I think Will Power on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course ranks right alongside Dixon’s performance at Mid-Ohio. Since the NTT INDYCAR SERIES began competing on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile racetrack in 2014, he’s won four of nine races – that’s nearly half! He has three wins in the GMR Grand Prix and won last October during the INDYCAR Harvest GP weekend. Plus, he has five poles, an average start of third, an average finish of seventh, has completed every lap of competition and has led 285 laps. If that doesn’t make him the king of the IMS road course, I don’t know what does.

Paul Kelly: Can I just take this week off? All three of you make very compelling cases for kings of various roads. But I think Takuma Sato is the current king of most famous oval on Earth – the 2.5 miles of rectangular asphalt at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – and not just because he’s the defending winner. Taku has won the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge twice in the last four years with two different teams – Andretti Autosport in 2017 and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 2020. He finished third in 2019. And if his “no attack, no chance” move on Dario Franchitti had worked in Turn 1 of Lap 200 in 2012, Sato would join Helio Castroneves as a potential fourth member of the four-time “500” winners club this May at Indy. Taku may have cut his teeth on road courses, but like fellow global road racing supremos Emerson Fittipaldi and Franchitti, he has figured out how to master the challenges and idiosyncrasies of racing on the IMS oval better than most.

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