Mid-Ohio notes: New Indy car on display for race weekend

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LEXINGTON, OHIO -- The car to be used in Verizon IndyCar Series competition in 2018 made its public debut Tuesday with the first test for the universal aerodynamic bodywork kit at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. 

Juan Pablo MontoyaFans attending the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be able to get a close-up look on the two cars during the race weekend, as they will be housed in garages adjacent to the pit lane at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and available for view.

Oriol Servia drove the Honda-powered car (pictured above) and Juan Pablo Montoya was in the cockpit of the Chevrolet-powered machine (at left) for the test on the IMS oval. They'll be back behind the wheel again when the cars are put through the paces on a road course for the first time, at Mid-Ohio on Aug. 1.

As with the current aero kits provided by Chevy and Honda, the new universal kit supplied by Dallara will come in two configurations: one for superspeedway ovals that was tested Tuesday and the second that will run on road courses, street circuits and short ovals. The cars will be in the road/street/short oval configuration while on display this weekend, ahead of the first road course test scheduled Aug. 1 for Mid-Ohio's 2.258-mile permanent circuit.

The cars are slated to be displayed in the garages adjacent to pit lane throughout the weekend. Tuesday’s new car test, with Montoya and Servia once again driving, is open to the public.

Ohio State football great Griffin named grand marshal

Archie Griffin, college football's only two-time Heisman Trophy winner and one of Ohio State University's most accomplished alumni, will be the as grand marshal of this weekend's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. The race is the 13th of the season on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.

Archie GriffinGriffin was a four-year starter at running back for Ohio State from 1972-75, winning the Heisman in both 1974 and ’75. He went on to plan seven seasons in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals. Now 62, Griffin is president and CEO of OSU’s alumni association.

"We are incredibly excited to have Archie Griffin as our 2017 grand marshal," said Craig Rust, president of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. "While his accomplishments on the football field were tremendous, it is his impact on the central Ohio community and beyond through his professional career and public service that make him so special. He's a great Ohioan, and we're proud to have him be a part of the Honda Indy 200." 

As grand marshal, Griffin will deliver the command for drivers to start their engines prior to Sunday’s 90-lap race on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course permanent road circuit. The race airs live at 3 p.m. ET on CNBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, with an encore telecast at 7 p.m. on NBCSN.

The announcement of Griffin as grand marshal pleased Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver Graham Rahal, winner of the 2015 Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio and an avid Ohio State football fan.

"It's great to have Archie Griffin as the grand marshal. He is an icon in our city, our state and around this country,” said Rahal, a native of suburban Columbus, Ohio. “He's the only two-time Heisman winner and a great Buckeye. I have met him before several times, as has my dad, and I'm looking forward to seeing him at the Honda Indy 200."

With test experience, Gutierrez excited for Mid-Ohio race

Esteban Gutierrez will make his sixth Verizon IndyCar Series start in Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 as a midseason replacement for the injured Sebastien Bourdais. The 25-year-old Mexican enters race weekend more optimistic since he and Dale Coyne Racing teammate Ed Jones tested on the road course last week.

"I think it was a very productive test,” said Gutierrez, whose best finish to date in the No. 18 UNIFIN Honda was 13th at Iowa Speedway, also coming after he tested at the track prior to race weekend. “It helped me, once again, to understand the car better. Every time that we try something new, it helps me learn more and that then allows me to be more effective on a race weekend as I'm able to understand what direction we need to take to make the No. 18 UNIFIN car quicker.”

Gutierrez, the 2010 GP3 champion who made 59 Formula One starts in three seasons, is maintaining realistic goals for the Mid-Ohio weekend despite the advance track time.

“In terms of objectives for the weekend, I want to keep on learning and it would be nice to reach the top 10,” he said. “We know that it's been a pretty steep learning curve for me in INDYCAR, but we've made some progress and hopefully we can make our way into the top 10 pretty soon."


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