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Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio preview

IndyCar takes on one of the country's best natural road courses with the annual stop a Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. This weekend's Honda Indy 200 takes place on Sunday with a 90 lap, 203 mile long race on the 13 turn, 2.258 mile long course in Lexington, Ohio.

The action begins on Friday, July 28, with two practice sessions both live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com and www.youtube.com/indycar. Saturday sees a third practice session in the morning also shown live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com and www.youtube.com/indycar.

NBCSN wil broadcast qualifying live, 2 p.m. ET Saturday. Tthe race at 3 p.m. ET Sunday will be broadcast live on CNBC. A rebroadcast of the race will be shown at 7 p.m. ET Sunday, on NBCSN. Kevin Lee is the lead announcer for the NBCSN broadcasts this weekend alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Jon Beekhuis, Katie Hargitt, Anders Krohn and Robin Miller.

All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on network affiliates, Sirius 214, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app. All Verizon IndyCar Series practice and qualifying sessions are available on www.IndyCar.com, www.indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

Last year's winner and pole sitter was Simon Pagenaud.

"I'm excited to head to Mid-Ohio with the No. 1 Menards Chevrolet." said Pagenaud "We won there last year and it helped impact our championship hunt in a big way. It's a fun course with great fans who are always excited for INDYCAR racing. Our last race, Toronto, was a great event for us and we think the momentum we built there that can really help us as we look for another win to get more points towards the championship."

The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be the 33rd Indy car race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Johnny Rutherford won the first Indy car race at Mid-Ohio in 1980. Since then Scott Dixon is the winningest Indy car driver at Mid-Ohio with five victories (2007, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014). Emerson Fittipaldi won at Mid-Ohio three times, while Michael Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Teo Fabi, Bobby Rahal, Al Unser Jr. and Alex Zanardi have all won at Mid-Ohio twice. Past winners Dixon, Castroneves (2000 and 2001), Charlie Kimball (2013), Graham Rahal (2015) and Simon Pagenaud (2016) are entered this year.

"It's always great to go back to Mid-Ohio." said Rahal "I have a lot of fond memories, and have had a lot of great days there. Obviously winning there in 2015 really highlighted my career thus far. I'm excited to get back and hopefully see a great crowd once again. I know we will have a lot of support and I'm very appreciative of that. Hopefully we can have a great run in the Steak 'n Shake Honda because we definitely need it at this point in the championship. My hopes and expectations are high. We have struggled with our road course setup this year but at the same time I think we are capable of overcoming that. Our guys have put a lot of effort, a lot of time and mental energy into figuring out what we need going forward. Our pit position in Mid-Ohio, based on qualifying second in Toronto, is going to be great. It's flat so that is going to help us a lot. Obviously you want to be pitted with the good guys. You want to be right down there where the fast guys and championship contenders are and we're right there with them. It's important to have a good result at Mid-Ohio. I'm frustrated after Toronto. We deserved better than that. Our car was better than that, our team was better than that so it was obviously disappointing to get the result that we did. Hopefully we can turn that around and have a really, really strong run at Mid-Ohio."

Chip Ganassi Racing has won 10 times at Mid-Ohio, including seven of the last 10 races at the track. Ganassi's winning drivers are: Alex Zanardi (1996 and 1997), Juan Pablo Montoya (1999), Scott Dixon (2007, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2014), Dario Franchitti (2010) and Charlie Kimball (2013).

"I can't wait to get back to Mid-Ohio for the Honda Indy 200." said Kimball "It's such a staple on the Verizon IndyCar Series calendar for both drivers and fans. The atmosphere is more like a backyard barbecue or tailgate with so many people camping and having picnics on the hillsides while watching the race. As for the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team, we've had a few strong qualifying sessions at Mid-Ohio, making it into the Firestone Fast Six these past few years, so we'll try to keep that going. It's great to see the continued support from Honda at this event, too. With the right strategy, a fast car and maybe a bit of luck, hopefully we can see the No. 83 Tresiba Honda on the podium this weekend."

Team Penske has eight wins at the track: Emerson Fittipaldi (1992 and 1993), Al Unser Jr. (1994 and 1995), Helio Castroneves (2000 and 2001), Ryan Briscoe (2008) and Simon Pagenaud (2016).

"We're running second in point standings and now we're headed to a race I've won at twice." said Castroneves "Am I happy to head to Mid-Ohio? Of course. The No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet crew has been building great cars for me all season and we keep having solid finishes. The last time we raced on a road course was at Road America, where we finished third. We had a strong car then and I know my team is preparing another fast car that we can race hard for another win with. The fans at Mid-Ohio are always a fun group, too, so I'm looking forward to getting back on track this weekend."

Scott Dixon has finished in the top five in nine of his 12 races at Mid-Ohio, including five wins between 2007 and 2014. James Hinchcliffe has three top-five finishes in five career starts at Mid-Ohio. Carlos Munoz has finished in the top five in two of his three Mid-Ohio starts. Will Power has finished in the top five in five of his eight starts at Mid-Ohio. Simon Pagenaud has finished on the podium four times in his previous six starts, including last year's win.

"We've been fortunate to have a lot of success over the years at Mid-Ohio with I think five or so wins now." said Dixon "The team really has this place figured out too, as overall they have 10 wins, which is the most wins for a track by the team. The flow and rhythm of this track just really suits my driving style. It's a big weekend for Honda and I hope we can put on a good show for the fans who always turn out in big numbers here."

There have been six different Mid-Ohio pole winners since Helio Castroneves won back-to-back poles in 2007-08. Other Mid-Ohio pole winners entered in this year's race are: Will Power (2010 and 2012), Scott Dixon (2011 and 2015), Ryan Hunter-Reay (2013) and Simon Pagenaud (2016).

Eleven drivers have won the race from the pole - Mario Andretti (1984), Bobby Rahal (1985), Roberto Guerrero (1987), Teo Fabi (1989), Michael Andretti (1990 and 1991), Al Unser Jr. (1994), Alex Zanardi (1996), Patrick Carpentier (2002), Paul Tracy (2003), Scott Dixon (2011) and Simon Pagenaud (2016).

At least 19 drivers entered in the event have competed in past Indy car races at Mid-Ohio. Tony Kanaan (15) has the most starts at Mid-Ohio among the entered drivers. Twelve of those drivers have led laps at the track (Scott Dixon 223, Helio Castroneves 147, Will Power 90, Charlie Kimball 46, Simon Pagenaud 37, Mikhail Aleshin 33, Ryan Hunter-Reay 33, James Hinchcliffe 30, Graham Rahal 23, Conor Daly 22, Kanaan 13 and Josef Newgarden 5).

Two rookies - Esteban Gutierrez and Ed Jones - are expected to compete. Jones has raced at the circuit before in Indy Lights.

"We had a really good test last week at Mid-Ohio." said Jones "It was very positive and we worked on a lot of things. The car seemed pretty fast compared to others that were there. As we saw at Road America, it's beneficial to be able to test somewhere before we race there. It can give you an advantage early on and hopefully we can produce another good result because of it. It's a really difficult track, very technical, but it's a lot of fun to drive. I think a lot of the race results will be decided by qualifying because it's very difficult to overtake. That's one area where we really need to work hard to get the Boy Scouts car right for."

Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 278th consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Teammate Scott Dixon has made 219 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak in Indy car racing. Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti has made 195 consecutive starts, which is the fourth-longest streak in Indy car racing. Helio Castroneves will attempt to make his 340th career Indy car start, which ranks third on the all-time list. Tony Kanaan is fourth all-time with 338 starts.

"I love racing at Mid-Ohio with the massive, loyal fan base we've created there over the years." said Kanaan "It's just always so fun to come to this track and put on a good show for the fans, who have so much passion for what we do on the road course. I believe I have around 15 starts at Mid-Ohio, so I definitely have some history out there and would love to add a win this year. We had a rough race in Toronto, so I think it was a good thing for us to take the weekend and regroup before heading into Mid-Ohio this weekend. Obviously, Scott (Dixon) has proven how strong he is at Mid-Ohio, so we'll just try to get as much data as we can from him and hopefully snag a much-needed podium-finish for the No. 10 NTT Data Honda."

At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, July 28
10 - 10:45 a.m. - Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
2:15 - 3 p.m. - Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
3:05 - 3:20 p.m. - Verizon IndyCar Series pit stop practice, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)

Saturday, July 29
9:55 - 10:40 a.m. - Verizon IndyCar Series practice #3, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
2:05 p.m. - Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (three rounds of knockout qualifying), NBCSN (Live)

Sunday, July 30
11:15 - 11:45 a.m. - Verizon IndyCar Series warmup, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (Live)
3 p.m. - Driver introductions
3:40 p.m. - Command to start engines
3:47 p.m. - The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (90 laps/203.22 miles), CNBC (Live)

07/26/17

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