Mid-Ohio track record in jeopardy as 16 beat it in morning practice

Updated: 

LEXINGTON, Ohio – To date in 2016, Verizon IndyCar Series drivers have broken five track records. If the three practice sessions for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio are any indication, a sixth could be broken this afternoon in Verizon P1 Award qualifying at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon (No. 9 Target Chevrolet) holds the current track record at 1 minute, 4.5814 seconds (125.869 mph) set in 2015 qualifying. But after posting the fastest lap of this morning’s practice (1:03.7244, 127.562 mph), the Kiwi appears poised to lower the all-time fast lap for the second consecutive year. In fact, the top 16 cars in the session were all under Dixon’s 2015 lap record.

HONDA INDY 200 AT MID-OHIO: Practice 3 results; Combined practice results; Qualifying groups

“We always have a good baseline setup here each year,” Dixon said. “Everything changes, the tires are different, you’re fighting over hundredths (of a second), man, when it gets down this close. So that’s what we try to do, is fine-tune.”

Dixon is looking for a sixth win at Mid-Ohio this weekend, which would further his record for most victories at the 2.258-mile permanent road course that is hosting an Indy car race for the 32nd time.

“I think our baseline setups year-to-year kind of evolve a little bit,” said the four-time and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion, “and hopefully we’re developing a little bit quicker.”

Following Dixon in the morning session were Team Penske teammates Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet, 1:03.8938) and Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet, 1:03.9050), Ed Carpenter Racing’s Josef Newgarden (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium/ECR Vodka Chevrolet, 1:03.9116), and Dixon’s teammate, Tony Kanaan (No. 10 NTT Data Chevrolet, 1:03.9560).

Fellow Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Max Chilton (No. 8 Gallagher Services Chevrolet, 1:04.0394) and Charlie Kimball (No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet, 1:04.0889) finished sixth and eighth, respectively, reinforcing the notion that Chip Ganassi Racing, which has won a record 10 Indy car races at Mid-Ohio, is strong yet again.

“It’s a funny track,” said Pagenaud, who enters this weekend with a 47-point lead in the championship over the surging Power. “Because every time you go out at the beginning of a session, it takes a while to rubber in, but it rubbers in quickly when it does. You start sessions sliding around, in 66-second laps, then the end of the session we’re doing 63, so it’s pretty incredible.”

Santa ClausThere is a threat of rain showers this afternoon, making an already-complicated racetrack more difficult to prepare for in qualifying.

“The track’s changing every lap,” Pagenaud explained. “Every time someone puts new tires on, it’s that fresh Firestone rubber on the track and you can go faster. So you’ve got to challenge the braking zones, challenge the high-speed corners. Turn 1, Turn 11 are incredibly fast. You have to be incredibly committed.”

Continuing the weekend’s “Christmas in July” theme, special guest Santa Claus took a break from his summer of making toys to wave the green flag to start the 45-minute session as the 22-car field looked to dial in qualifying setups for knockout qualifying this afternoon.

The session had two interruptions for red flags. The first came when Ed Carpenter Racing rookie Spencer Pigot spun in Turn 4. The No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet rolled into the gravel trap, but did not make contact with the tire barrier, and the track was shortly returned to green-flag conditions.

Dale Coyne Racing’s Conor Daly (No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda) found the tire barrier in Turn 6 right at the end of the session, causing light damage to his Honda.

Next up for the Verizon IndyCar Series is Verizon P1 Award qualifying, which takes place at 2 p.m. ET today, airing on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network (Sirius 212, XM 209, IndyCar.com). The knockout qualifying will determine the starting field for the 90-lap race that can be found at 2 p.m. ET Sunday on CNBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, with a re-air on NBCSN at 5:30 p.m. 

The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio is Round 13 of 16 on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule, but will be the 12th race to be completed. The Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway was suspended after 71 laps by rain June 12 and will be completed Aug. 27.

This morning's practice results are below:

Rank

Car

Driver Name

C/A/E/T

Time

Speed

Diff

Gap

Best Lap

Total Laps

1

9

Dixon, Scott

D/C/C/F

01:03.7244

127.562

--.----

--.----

9

20

2

22

Pagenaud, Simon

D/C/C/F

01:03.8938

127.224

0.1694

0.1694

17

22

3

12

Power, Will

D/C/C/F

01:03.9050

127.201

0.1806

0.0112

11

19

4

21

Newgarden, Josef

D/C/C/F

01:03.9116

127.188

0.1872

0.0066

14

21

5

10

Kanaan, Tony

D/C/C/F

01:03.9560

127.100

0.2316

0.0444

9

21

6

8

Chilton, Max (R)

D/C/C/F

01:04.0394

126.934

0.3150

0.0834

13

18

7

15

Rahal, Graham

D/H/H/F

01:04.0764

126.861

0.3520

0.0370

16

27

8

83

Kimball, Charlie

D/C/C/F

01:04.0889

126.836

0.3645

0.0125

15

22

9

5

Hinchcliffe, James

D/H/H/F

01:04.0954

126.823

0.3710

0.0065

15

20

10

28

Hunter-Reay, Ryan

D/H/H/F

01:04.1421

126.731

0.4177

0.0467

16

17

11

11

Bourdais, Sebastien

D/C/C/F

01:04.1694

126.677

0.4450

0.0273

12

19

12

2

Montoya, Juan Pablo

D/C/C/F

01:04.2734

126.472

0.5490

0.1040

18

20

13

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

D/H/H/F

01:04.3370

126.347

0.6126

0.0636

14

18

14

3

Castroneves, Helio

D/C/C/F

01:04.3545

126.313

0.6301

0.0175

24

25

15

19

Enerson, RC (R)

D/H/H/F

01:04.3887

126.246

0.6643

0.0342

20

23

16

20

Pigot, Spencer (R)

D/C/C/F

01:04.4347

126.156

0.7103

0.0460

12

18

17

98

Rossi, Alexander (R)

D/H/H/F

01:04.6115

125.810

0.8871

0.1768

16

22

18

26

Munoz, Carlos

D/H/H/F

01:04.6266

125.781

0.9022

0.0151

24

24

19

18

Daly, Conor (R)

D/H/H/F

01:04.6309

125.773

0.9065

0.0043

15

25

20

41

Hawksworth, Jack

D/H/H/F

01:04.6702

125.696

0.9458

0.0393

16

16

21

14

Sato, Takuma

D/H/H/F

01:04.7373

125.566

1.0129

0.0671

6

17

22

27

Andretti, Marco

D/H/H/F

01:04.7668

125.509

1.0424

0.0295

13

18

(R) Rookie (C)hassis: D=Dallara | (A)erokit: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (E)ngine: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (T)ire: F=Firestone

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