Title Contenders Go Quick At Mid-Ohio

Ryan Hunter-Reay (IndyCar photo)

LEXINGTON, Ohio — Three drivers badly in need of a victory who are generally battling for a championship were the three fastest drivers in Saturday morning’s 75-minute NTT IndyCar Series practice session at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

It was the opening session for this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio doubleheader.

Ryan Hunter-Reay led a trio of big-name drivers who are winless in 2020 with a fast lap of 1:06.3034 around the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course for a top speed of 122.600 in the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport. Team Penske’s Will Power was second at 1:06.3952 (122.431 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet.

Alexander Rossi’s time of 1:06.4299 (122.367 mph) in the No. 27 NAPA Honda for Andretti Autosport rounded out this list of impressive names who have had disappointing seasons.

NTT IndyCar Series points leader Scott Dixon was fourth at 1:06.4407 (122.347 mph) in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Santino Ferrucci of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser and Sullivan was fifth in the No. 18 SealMaster Honda at 1:06.5613 (122.125 mph). Two-time IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden’s Team PPG Chevrolet for Team Penske was sixth at 1:06.6952 (121.880 mph).

Only five races remain in the NTT IndyCar Series season, and the path to a sixth Astor Challenge Cup for Dixon is clear.

Dixon, the winningest Indy car driver at Mid-Ohio with six wins, leads Team Penske’s Newgarden by 96 points heading into the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio doubleheader this weekend.

Newgarden or Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward (-119 points) will need to carve away at that lead if they want to take the title from Dixon.

Should Dixon leave Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a lead of 141 points or more, the New Zealand driver only needs to start the remaining races on the schedule to win a sixth championship. With a lead of more than 162 points or more, he can clinch the title.

Qualifications for Saturday are set for 2-2:30 p.m. Eastern Time split into two groups. The NBC broadcast for Saturday’s race is set for 4:30 p.m. with the 75-lap race getting the green flag at 5 p.m.

Sunday’s schedule has two-group qualifications from 10:15-10:45 a.m. with the race on NBC at 1 p.m.

Dixon was involved in a minor incident during the practice when his car went off course in the Keyhole section with 50:38 left in the practice. O’Ward brought out the only red flag in the session when his Chevrolet went off track in turn 12.