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Rossi wins pole for Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

July 28, 2018

LEXINGTON, Ohio (AP) — Alexander Rossi won his third pole of the season Saturday, leading qualifying for the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Rossi, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner, denied Will Power his third pole at the Lexington, Ohio, course. His NAPA Auto Parts Honda had a one-lap speed of 125.677 mph over the 13-turn, 2.258-mile permanent road course.

“This is special,” Rossi said. “Road courses are not the strongest attribute for me.”

His previous poles this season were street courses at Long Beach and Belle Isle Park. He has four career poles.

Series point leader Scott Dixon will start ninth for the 90-lap, 202-mile race on Sunday. Dixon (464 points) has a 62-point lead over Josef Newgarden, the defending race champion.

Graham Rahal, who is from New Albany, Ohio, and won the race in 2015, will start seventh.

“It was frustrating,” he said. “I felt we had the pace to advance.”

Power has yet to win at Mid-Ohio despite six top-five finishes in nine starts. He had a speed of 125.263 mph in the Verizon Team Penske Chevy.

“It’s good to start up front because it’s a good track position race,” he said.

Honda and Chevrolet alternated the next four spots. Ryan Hunter-Reay was third at 125.078 in the DHL Honda, and Newgarden was next (128.802) driving the Hitachi Team Penske Chevy. He was followed Robert Wickens (124.723) in the Lucas Oil SPM Honda and Max Chilton was sixth (122.023) in the Gallagher Chevy.

Dixon did not qualify for the Fast 6 from the Fast 12 when he was outside the qualifying group. James Hinchcliffe, who had the fastest lap of the session, crashed in Turn 12 to bring out the red flag as the 10-minute run expired.

“It would have been tight for us” to advance, Dixon said of his chances of qualifying had the session continued.

Hinchcliffe, of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, was docked his two fastest times and will start 10th.

CLOSE TO HOME

While Rahal grabs most of the attention for his local ties, there’s also interest in the No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM MSR with a SPM Honda driven by Englishman Jack Harvey.

MSR stands for Meyer Shank Racing. Co-owner Michael Shank of Pataskala, Ohio, about 55 miles south of Lexington, entered into a limited working agreement with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (SPM) and fielded a team for the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Florida; Long Beach, California; and the Indianapolis 500.

Mid-Ohio is the third of six IndyCar races this season for Meyer Shank Racing and Harvey.

“This is really a dream for him,” Harvey said of Shank. “He’s from Columbus. A lot of the team work from here. This is his home race. We’re here competing at the highest level you can in North America. . Hopefully we’re going to have the best weekend we can.”

Harvey qualified 20th. Also, Ohio native Zach Veach from Stockdale qualified 12th in the Relay Group 1001 Honda for Andretti Autosport.

A LONG ROAD

Pietro Fittipaldi, in the PaySafe Honda for Dale Coyne Racing, qualified 22nd in his return from an accident while qualifying for the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps sports car race in Belgium in early May. He sustained a compound fracture of his left leg and a broken right ankle.

The 22-year-old grandson of Formula One world champion and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Emerson Fittipaldi tested at Mid-Ohio on July 17 and was cleared to race. “I’m really happy to be back. It was a long recovery. I’m definitely ready for the race weekend,” he said.

WHAT TO EXPECT:

Getting a grip with the new chassis this season has been a struggle throughout practices and qualifying with numerous spinouts. “In the race everyone will back it up a bit and get it out of their system now,” Power said.

Dixon has won at Mid-Ohio five times, once after starting last, so the challenge for the field is to not lose any more ground in the series standings.

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