IRL: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course pre-race notes

CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLES TO HEAT UP AT MID-OHIO DURING THE ACURA SPORTS CAR CHALLENGE / THE HONDA 200 PRESENTED BY WESTFIELD INSURANCE DUBLIN, Ohio (July 17, 2007) -- As the summer season heats up, the American Le Mans and IndyCar Series will...


DUBLIN, Ohio (July 17, 2007) -- As the summer season heats up, the American Le Mans and IndyCar Series will both battle for pivotal championship points at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course during the Acura Sports Car Challenge / The Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance, July 20-22.

Battling for two hours and forty-five minutes, the American Le Mans Series will bring their thrilling and fan-friendly show back to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the sixth year during the Acura Sports Car Challenge. The Saturday afternoon race will test sleek prototypes against powerful muscle cars in a four-class race format that features many of the cars that do battle on the Circuit de la Sarthe during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

New for the American Le Mans Series is the arrival of Acura, Honda's luxury division, which debuted a three-car factory prototype LMP2 program. The three-team Acura entourage has already tasted victory this season, but will be highly contested at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course by the two Porsche RS Spyders of Penske Racing, who have made history not only by finishing 1-2 in last year's race at Mid-Ohio, but by winning overall in the last four American Le Mans Series races this season, edging the Acuras and the mighty LMP1 diesel-powered Audis.

"Mid-Ohio is one of the most challenging and physical of all the American road courses," said Stephan Johansson, driver of the No. 9 Highcroft Racing Acura. "I have raced there several times in the past and the track always presents tough races with lots of action. I am excited to be racing there this year in an Acura and I believe the track will suit our car well. Both David [Brabham, co-driver] and I are eager to convert our early season promise into a solid result this time."

Open-wheel racing returns to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course as the premier open-wheel series in the country joins the schedule for The Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance for a Sunday afternoon race. Competing for the first time in the state, the IndyCar Series is a proven leader in motorsports technology, becoming the first racing series to power its Honda engines on 100% fuel-grade ethanol.

The hunt for the elusive IndyCar Series Championship will be in full swing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, as the first eleven IndyCar Series events of the season have seen six different drivers claim the top prize. Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti leads the pack after winning a soggy battle at the Indianapolis 500 and back-to-back races at Iowa and Richmond. Franchitti currently leads the point standings by a not-so-comfortable 34-point margin over Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon, who is making inroads on Franchitti after winning the last two consecutive IndyCar Series races.

Dixon has proven himself to be a strong contender on road courses, taking the win at Watkins Glen two weeks ago for the third-straight time, setting him up for a strong showing on Mid-Ohio's 2.258-mile, 13-turn circuit. Franchitti is no slouch on road courses either, especially at Mid-Ohio, where during June's Open Test he topped the chart with a lap of 1 minute, 7.6667 seconds (120.130 mph). With significantly less horsepower, a normally aspirated Honda Indy V-8 engine, no power to pass and no optional tires, Franchitti was only six-tenths of a second off of Paul Tracy's 2003 CART pole lap at Mid-Ohio.

Team Penske's Helio Castroneves, a two-time winner at Mid-Ohio also faired well during the Open Test, coming in 0.1004 of a second back of Franchitti.

"I can't say a single bad thing about Mid-Ohio. I love it there. The last two times we ran at the track when we raced in CART, we found victory," said Castroneves. "Obviously, in 2007, we will be returning with different cars and tires, which will make a big difference. But, I can't wait to get back, because I enjoy the challenges this circuit presents. There's a great deal of shifting and braking, along with some very difficult turns - it's a great technical course."

A comprehensive motorsports facility, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course features a permanent road-racing circuit with two primary configurations: a 2.4-mile, 15-turn, and a 2.25-mile, 13-turn circuit. The park-like, 330-acre complex in Lexington, Ohio also features an amateur motocross venue. Located 60 miles north of Columbus and 75 miles south of Cleveland near Mansfield, the track has been called the most competitive in the U.S. and annually hosts a diversity of locally, regionally and nationally sanctioned racing events for amateur, club and professional riders and drivers.

Founded in 1981 and headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, TrueSports, Incorporated is a privately held motorsports entertainment enterprise. The company owns and operates Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and The Mid-Ohio School, and promotes a wide variety of motor racing, driver instruction, corporate, and family entertainment events throughout the year.

-credit: moscc

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About this article
Series ALMS , IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon
Teams Team Penske , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing