There were no real surprises in qualifying yesterday at Mid-Ohio. Everything pretty much went according to script. I’ll admit when I made my predictions for the race on Friday, Justin Wilson completely slipped my mind. I really don’t know what I was thinking. I guess it’s hard to train my brain to make a correlation between Dale Coyne and winning, after watching his cars trudging around at the back of the pack for so many years.
But yesterday taught me to take notice and stop forgetting about Justin Wilson when it comes to road courses. Add him to the list of those that I said should have a decent weekend. I also think that Paul Tracy will do something fairly spectacular, even though he is starting in the tenth position. Being in KV Racing Technology’s primary car should help as he makes his way to the front. Remember, the last time he raced on this track in 2003 – he was the pole sitter and race winner.
I still look for Graham Rahal to have an outstanding weekend. He essentially grew up at this track. He qualified well (fourth) and just like Justin Wilson, has nothing to lose. This type of attitude should worry Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon. They sit first and second in the points and happen to be starting alongside these two.
One slight surprise was the performance of Ryan Hunter-Reay in the AJ Foyt ABC Supply car who will roll off in the seventh starting position. He narrowly missed the Firestone Fast Six and the best sign was – he was frustrated that he didn’t get in. After the season he has had, it’s good to see that he is still not satisfied with “decent” results.
Andretti-Green Racing had a much better qualifying run this weekend. At Edmonton, none of their cars advanced to the second round. For Mid-Ohio, three of the four AGR cars advanced to the second round with Marco Andretti barely missing transferring to the next round. He will be starting in thirteenth spot while Danica Patrick and Hideki Mutoh will start side by side in row six. Tony Kanaan seems to have regained his stride and will start eighth.
Oriol Servia, in his first race since Indianapolis and his first road course since last season, will start fourteenth — four spots better than the man he replaced at Newman/Haas/Lanigan, Robert Doornbos. Probably the biggest disappointment is that Ed carpenter, last week’s runner-up, will start dead last. Somehow he managed to get out-qualified by Milka Duno.
Speaking of Milka, watching her practice all weekend makes me wonder when Brian Barnhart is going to have the same conversation that he supposedly had with Marty Roth. Putting it kindly, she has no business being in an IndyCar. Milka needs to step away from the car before she injures herself or someone else.
If there is to be a surprise winner this weekend, I’d be happiest to see Ryan Hunter-Reay pull it off. Not that I’m that big of an RHR fan, but I’d like to see the famous #14 in victory lane just one more time. Foyt has been through enough over the last few years. He deserves it. If RHR can’t pull it off, then I’ll probably go for Rahal or Wilson, in that order; simply because Wilson has already won a race this season. If it has to be a red car, I want Briscoe to repeat last year’s win at Mid-Ohio. Of the three championship contenders, he’s who I’m pulling for – even though Dario makes his home here in Nashville.
As I said the other day — more times than not, this race generally causes a shakeup in the points. Let’s see what, if any, effect that has this time. Enjoy the race.