Simon Pagenaud reinvigorated his championship charge as he claimed victory at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday ahead of title rival Will Power.
Pagenaud made a great move on his Team Penske rival into the final corner to take control of the race in the closing stages, but for circumstances out of his control, this race was Mikhail Aleshin’s for the taking.
Aleshin had made a relatively early first pit stop in his Schmidt Peterson Motorsport machine, and was the leading driver of those who had made their first visits to the pit lane when the caution flags fell on lap fifteen, when Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves clashed at the Keyhole hairpin, with the former damaging his suspension and the latter his rear wing.
With the race neutralised, everyone who had not pitted before hit pit lane, handing Aleshin the initiative, and the Russian driver appeared to have the race in his pocket, moving more than ten seconds clear of the chasing pack.
Whereas the first caution period gave Aleshin a lucky break, the second was quite the opposite. Jack Hawksworth crashed his AJ Foyt Racing machine into the turn one barriers, and despite heading into the pits in the lead, Aleshin endured a nightmare stop.
His engineer giving him instructions to exit just as Josef Newgarden was alongside, hitting the American and damaging his front wing, ending his chances of a maiden victory and giving the lead to Conor Daly.
Daly gambled on their being another caution period, pulling out a lead at the front, but the Dale Coyne Racing driver was forced to make a splash and dash stop with just six laps remaining, handing Pagenaud the lead.
Pagenaud and Power battled hard all afternoon, with the pass for the lead coming after a small mistake by Power at the back end of the circuit that put him onto the defensive for the remainder of the lap, with the two banging wheels at least twice before Pagenaud pulled off the move into the final corner.
Carlos Munoz ran the same strategy as Aleshin but managed to see it through to the end to claim a podium finish for Andretti Autosport, while Graham Rahal took fourth for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing after Takuma Sato and Sebastien Bourdais collided with three laps remaining, while James Hinchcliffe took fifth for Schmidt Peterson Motorsport, who could and should have had better with their other driver.
Daly took his splash and dash and took sixth, a great result especially when he started right at the back of the field, while Spencer Pigot took a seasons best result in seventh for Ed Carpenter Racing.
Charlie Kimball was the only Chip Ganassi Racing driver to finish inside the top ten, taking eighth, with Sato ninth after surviving the incident with Bourdais, with Newgarden taking tenth despite his clash with Aleshin in pit lane and an enforced trip to the pits to repair a damaged rear wing after being hit by Power on the back straight.
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Race Result
|1||22||Simon Pagenaud||FRA||Team Penske||1:49:59.6875|
|2||12||Will Power||AUS||Team Penske||+4.1620|
|3||26||Carlos Munoz||COL||Andretti Autosport||+6.5662|
|4||15||Graham Rahal||USA||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||+7.0196|
|5||5||James Hinchcliffe||CAN||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||+11.1260|
|6||18||Conor Daly||USA||Dale Coyne Racing||+11.8526|
|7||20||Spencer Pigot||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||+12.8831|
|8||83||Charlie Kimball||USA||Chip Ganassi Racing||+15.0016|
|9||14||Takuma Sato||JAP||AJ Foyt Enterprises||+18.0128|
|10||21||Josef Newgarden||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||+18.5404|
|11||2||Juan Pablo Montoya||COL||Team Penske||+20.6074|
|12||10||Tony Kanaan||BRZ||Chip Ganassi Racing||+23.9632|
|13||27||Marco Andretti||USA||Andretti Autosport||+24.7606|
|14||98||Alexander Rossi||USA||Andretti Herta Autosport||+25.5191|
|15||3||Helio Castroneves||BRZ||Team Penske||+26.6191|
|16||8||Max Chilton||GBR||Chip Ganassi Racing||+26.8199|
|17||7||Mikhail Aleshin||RUS||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||+42.7274|
|18||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||USA||Andretti Autosport||+53.5383|
|19||19||RC Enerson||USA||Dale Coyne Racing||+1 Lap|
|RET||11||Sebastien Bourdais||FRA||KVSH Racing||Retired|
|RET||41||Jack Hawksworth||GBR||AJ Foyt Enterprises||Retired|
|RET||9||Scott Dixon||NZL||Chip Ganassi Racing||Retired|