We’re down to the final five rounds of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series, and the remaining events on the schedule are enough to make any open-wheel fan salivate. Oval rounds at Pocono and Gateway give way to the sport’s return to Portland for the first time since the CART era, and its farewell to Sonoma before Laguna Seca takes over the 2019 season finale.
But first, the sport’s top drivers will have to take on the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, a constant presence on the North American open wheel racing schedule for almost 50 years. The 2.258-mile course has seen most of the sport’s most legendary drivers take at least one victory, but has also produced five different winners in the past five years. Here are some of the storylines we’ll be focused on during this weekend’s action:
Is Mid-Ohio Josef Newgarden’s best shot at making up ground on Scott Dixon?
Dixon’s points lead has grown to a whopping 62 coming into Mid-Ohio, with three victories in the past six races—including the most recent round in Toronto—playing a huge part in that. Newgarden has equaled Dixon so far with three wins, and has four poles to Dixon’s zero, but has two finishes of ninth or worse after his pole runs. With that said, Dixon has only one win and one podium in his last five Mid-Ohio starts, while Newgarden won here after leading 73 of 90 laps last season.
Will Alexander Rossi’s pole run propel him back to victory lane?
After a torrid start to the season, including a win at Long Beach and three podiums in the first three rounds of the year, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner has cooled slightly since. Though he’s only finished worse than 12th once all year, Rossi hasn’t taken any additional victories in his five podium runs so far in 2018. The Andretti Autosport driver earned plenty of style points by earning the pole with only one timed lap in the Firestone Fast Six—does he have what it takes to earn his second win of the season?
How long will Conor Daly’s stint at Harding Racing last?
One of the sport’s newest teams, Harding made the unusual move to pull Gabby Chaves from its single car for the final six rounds of the season to give other drivers a tryout for its planned second seat in 2019. Daly jumped in at Toronto and finished 13th, immediately posting the team’s best finish of the season. While the goal was to also give some young drivers some seat time, Daly is a popular figure with the fans. When Pocono rolls around and Indy Lights has the weekend off, will Harding stick to that plan?