By: Tyler Hill
IndyCar drivers are starting their engines and taking the green flag this July Fourth weekend at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. So far, we have seen a surprising season with eight different drivers winning the first nine races. This year coming into Mid Ohio, the race winner seems more unpredictable than before. So, I tried to narrow it down to six drivers to watch for during this weekend’s race.
1. Alex Palou
The first driver this season to reach two wins this season and he is also the current points leader. He’s from Chip Ganassi Racing, and no, he isn’t Scott Dixon as in previous years. Instead, we have a new face, and it’s 24-year old Spaniard Alex Palou. In just his second season, he is sitting first in the standings with 349 points going into Mid Ohio. Last year at Mid-Ohio, he placed 12th and 23rd in the doubleheader respectively, then again, he was a rookie at the time. Now, he has more experience with two IndyCar wins plus a faster car than last year. So I think a podium finish this weekend isn’t a far stretch for Alex.
2. Josef Newgarden
Nobody has had a worse last two races than Josef Newgarden. He has been on pole and led the most laps in the previous two races. However, he has failed to pick up win number one on the season. At the second race of the Detroit doubleheader, Patricio O’Ward made an incredible pass on him with three laps to go to grab his second win of the season. At Road America, Newgarden controlled most of the race, but Alex Palou sailed by the American with two laps remaining to get his second win. So, is the third time the charm for this Penske driver? He has won previously in 2017 and was on the podium in second place last year. So, he knows this course well and knows what it takes to win here at Mid-Ohio. I think he has a great chance at taking home the win and an even better chance to get at least a podium finish this weekend.
3. Colton Herta
The last race run at this track by the IndyCar series was the second part of the doubleheader last year, and this young American won it. Herta has had nothing but success at this track. Including IndyCar Lights races, in which he finished ninth. He was coming off decent races of fourth place at Detroit's second race and runner up at Road America two weeks ago. I suspect he may be a face we will see on the podium this race, if not his second win of the season.
4. Scott Dixon
What has happened to Scott this season? He has six career season championships, including last season but has only had one win this season at race one of the Texas oval doubleheader. He has been dominant on the three oval races this season but has been nowhere to be found at the street/road courses this season, other than a podium finish at Barber. However, heading into Mid-Ohio, he has won here six times. One of those six times was most recently in 2019. He’s coming off a fourth-place finish at Road America and heading into one of his most successful tracks other than an oval. Things are looking up for an excellent race for Scott. Expect him to be on the podium if Alex, Josef, or Colton are not there after the race.
5. Will Power
Like Scott, Will has had a dismal year. He is just 12th in the rankings and in danger of missing the top five in season point standings for the first time since 2009. However, he has been the most consistent driver at this track other than Dixon, with five podium finishes before his first and only win back in 2020 in race one of the doubleheader. So look for him to make some noise and give the above four drivers a run for their money.
6. Alexander Rossi
Let’s not talk about Alexander’s season. We all know he is 15th in points. I wasn’t going to include him but like Scott and Will. He has had great success at the track, and this race could be the key for him to jump the rankings. He won the race here in Lexington in 2018 and was fifth, third, and second in the next three races at Mid Ohio after that win, so I feel like he could be a good wildcard pick, and I will be rooting for him to be near the front and to try to clear up a disappointing season thus far.