By: Spencer Neff
July 3, 2021
Saturday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course would bring the final two practices, with qualifying in between, for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200.
Take a look at the on-track action highlights from the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course in Lexington, Ohio.
Newgarden wins third straight pole
Still looking for his first win of 2021, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden earned his third consecutive pole on Saturday. In the final session, the 2017 Mid-Ohio winner notched a best lap of 1m06.6739 (121.919 mph). It is his 14th career pole and first at Mid-Ohio.
Missing out on pole by .0031 of a second, Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian’s Colton Herta will join Newgarden on the front row. Rounding out the Fast Six was Marcus Ericsson, Will Power, Scott Dixon and Alexander Rossi.
For Group 2, Newgarden was P1 again (1m06.163-122.86 mph). Herta, Power, Rossi, Dixon and Ericsson would also move on to run for the pole.
Points leader Alex Palou was seventh, first among the drivers unable to advance to Round 3. Starting 8th-12th will be Graham Rahal, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Rinus VeeKay and Sebastien Bourdais. Bourdais exceeded the pit lane speed limit during the session, prompting a drive-through penalty.
In Group 1 of the opening round, Newgarden led the way as he ran a quickest lap of 1m06.0168 (123.132 mph). Newgarden, Palou, Power, Rahal, Bourdais and Rossi moved on to the second round.
A.J. Foyt Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais was seventh, first among the drivers unable to advance. Joining Bourdais on the outside for Rows 7-13 are Felix Rosenqvist, Simon Pagenaud, Max Chilton, Takuma Sato, Dalton Kellett, Jack Harvey and Jimmie Johnson.
While posting laps quick enough to advance, Harvey was docked his fastest lap for causing a local yellow after his spin.
Pagenaud and Rossi, who did not properly slow for the yellow also lost their fastest laps. As a result, Pagenaud and Harvey, who were 2nd and third during the session, were relegated to the bottom seven, bumping Bourdais and Rossi into the second round.
During Group 2, Herta was atop the group of 13 with a best lap of 1m06.2685 (122.665 mph), leading Dixon, Ericsson, Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe and VeeKay into the Fast 12.
Those not advancing and starting on the outside of the last seven rows were Scott McLaughlin, Ed Jones, Romain Grosjean, Pato O’Ward, Santino Ferrucci, Conor Daly and Ryan Norman.
Dixon tops Final Practice
As he looks for his seventh career win at Mid-Ohio and to equal Mario Andretti for second all-time with his 52nd career win, Scott Dixon was fastest in Saturday’s 30-minute final practice.
The Chip Ganassi Racing driver posted a best lap of 1m08.0256 (119.496 mph), besting Herta by .0489 of a second, the only practice session Honda led this weekend,
Grosjean made it a Top 3 sweep for Honda, while Chilton was the fastest Chevrolet entry and Hinchcliffe made it four Hondas in the Top Five.
The lone red flag during the session was for Ryan Norman, as the Dale Coyne Racing with RWR rookie went off course in Turn 13 but was able to continue on soon after. Jimmie Johnson spun in Turn 12 late in the session but was able to continue unabated as well.
O’Ward leads Second Practice
The second 45-minute session of the weekend saw the same drivers in the Top 2 as Friday afternoon, albeit in reverse order.
Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward led the way, posting a best lap of 1m06.0911 (122.994 mph), .0082 of a second ahead of Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden. Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian’s Colton Herta was the fastest Honda in third.
Despite a handful of off-track excursions, including from Dixon and Carlin Racing’s Max Chilton, the second practice was run incident-free and without a stoppage.
Here is the schedule for the remaining on-track activities this weekend. Keep tabs on this weekend’s action with IndyCar1909.com and our social media platforms, listed at the bottom of our webpage. All times listed are local track time (Eastern).
Follow tire strategies for qualifying and the race, here.
Sunday, July 4
11:58 a.m.: “Drivers, start your engines”
Noon: NBC on air
12:05 p.m.: The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by the HPD Ridgeline (80 laps/180.64 miles), NBC (Live)
Header Image By Matt Fraver/INDYCAR