Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course pre-race notes

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course pre-race notes



DUBLIN, OH (July 15, 2008) -- Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will be home for the second year in a row to the largest and most significant motorsports event in the state of Ohio: the dual-headline Acura Sports Car Challenge / The Honda Indy 200 presented by Westfield Insurance, July 18-20.

The American Le Mans Series, whose drivers will battle for two hours and forty-five minutes, will celebrate its 10th Anniversary and seventh visit to Mid-Ohio during the Acura Sports Car Challenge. The Saturday afternoon race will test four different classes of high-tech sports cars competing for overall and class wins.

The fight for the overall win will return to Mid-Ohio, as the American Le Mans Series' LMP1 two-car effort of Audi Sport North America will seek to upset LMP2's Penske Racing's Porsche Spyder duo, who have dominated the 2.25-mile, 13-turn circuit for the past two years. In 2006, Penske Racing claimed its first overall win at Mid-Ohio and followed it up in 2007 with eight overall victories -- including another at Mid-Ohio -- while the Audi R10 TDI captured four wins. The two teams have continued the fight into 2008, with both teams heading into Mid-Ohio with two overall wins respectively.

While Penske seeks its third-in-a-row overall win at Mid-Ohio, they and the Audis will face some tough challengers, namely from a four-car effort from Acura Motorsports, whose driver line-up is a who's-who of motorsports: former Indy 500 champion Gil de Ferran, current 24 Hours of Le Mans winner David Brabham, former IndyCar Series and Trans-Am champion Scott Sharp, Formula One driver Franck Montagny, past Mid-Ohio race winner Adrian Fernandez, as well as young stars Luis Diaz and Simon Pagenaud. Acura posted its first-ever overall win this past weekend at Lime Rock as Scott Sharp and David Brabham took the Patron Highcroft Racing Acura ARX 01b to victory lane after a late-race pass by Brabham.

"This event will be the fourth different type of car I will have raced at Mid-Ohio," said Scott Sharp. "I drove in Trans-Am and clinched the title here in 1993. I raced in Champ Car in the 1990s and last year in an Indy car. This Acura is really close to an open-wheel car. It is fast and it handles so well. Mid-Ohio is tough on a driver with the elevation and the tough turns. But it is fun to drive with this Acura. The new Acura ARX-01b chassis just blows me away. It is one of the best cars I have ever driven. For a driver, it has everything you would want. The Acura has downforce, has great brakes, and has traction control and the Michelin tires really stick to the racing surface. I can't wait to get back to Mid-Ohio. With David (Brabham) as a teammate, I feel good about our chances there."

While the Corvettes will look to dominate the American Le Mans Series GT1 class yet again, GT2 is another story, as the epic battle between Porsche and Ferrari rages on. Flying Lizard Motorsports (Porsche) has claimed three races and Tafel Racing (Ferrari) two races of the first five of the season. Risi Competizione (Ferrari), returning from the class win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will look for their first win of 2008 at Mid-Ohio.

The Acura Sports Car Challenge race is scheduled for 2:10 p.m. ET on Saturday, July 19 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. NBC Sports will televise the race from noon to 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 20. XM Satellite Radio will air the race from 5:00 -- 8:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 20.

This exhilarating race weekend continues on Sunday when a variety of new faces and familiar names from the newly unified IndyCar Series compete on one racetrack during The Honda Indy 200 presented by Westfield Insurance. The Sunday afternoon event will mark the first time that Mid-Ohio has hosted 27 IndyCar Series cars, nine more entries than last year when the Series' first debuted at the track.

In the first 11 races of the 2008 IndyCar Series season, there have been seven different race winners, with four drivers scoring their first IndyCar Series victories. Graham Rahal (St. Pete), Danica Patrick (Japan), Ryan Briscoe (Milwaukee) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (Watkins Glen) have all posted that elusive first win this season.

However, 2007 Mid-Ohio race winner and recent Indianapolis 500 champion Scott Dixon sits atop the Series' driver point standings, 63 points ahead of Team Penske's Helio Castroneves. Dixon, last year's IndyCar Series Championship runner-up, has secured four race wins and five poles and will look to increase his lead not only over Castroneves, but also Target Chip Ganassi teammate Dan Wheldon who sits in third, and Andretti Green Racing's foursome of Tony Kanaan, Danica Patrick, Hideki Mutoh and Marco Andretti.

"As always I look forward to going to road courses during the season and more so when it is a race that we won last year," said Scott Dixon. "Mid-Ohio is a very challenging track and requires a lot of emphasis on qualifying well. I hope to improve on our qualifying from last year. We tested for a few hours just recently and I believe we found a few things. So all in all I can't wait to get back this weekend and try to defend our title."

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course may be the great equalizer in the field of 27, as all of the drivers who moved to the IndyCar Series in 2008 have a strong road racing background. Both Enrique Bernoldi and Justin Wilson have experience competing in Formula One while Mario Dominguez, Bruno Junqueira, Oriol Servia, Will Power and Graham Rahal all participated in Champ Car. E.J. Viso competed in GP2 and Mario Moraes in the British Formula 3 championship. Look for the top five to be challenged up front by these experienced road racers during the 85-lap race.

The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 20. ABC HD will televise the race live beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 20, while XM Satellite Radio will air the race at 1:30 p.m. ET on XM Satellite Channel 145.

Weekend support races for this action-packed weekend include SCCA Pro Racing's SPEED World Challenge, IMSA Challenge and Firestone Indy Lights.

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 drivers and riders.

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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