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IndyCar To Do Two at Mid-Ohio

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, September 8 2020

The IndyCar Series will be racing in Ohio this coming weekend. (File photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

This weekend’s rescheduled Honda Indy 200 doubleheader at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will be open to a limited number of spectators who will be required to follow COVID-19 health and safety protocols, including the statewide mask mandate.

In a welcome reversal of COVID-19-related scheduling, sanctioning body INDYCAR has added a pair of NTT IndyCar Series races at the 2.258-mile/13-turn natural terrain layout in Lexington, Ohio.

Mid-Ohio originally was booked as Round 14 of a 17-event schedule on Aug. 16. On Aug. 1, INDYCAR, Mid-Ohio officials and Green Savoree Racing Promotions announced postponement of a proposed doubleheader due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases in Ohio.

Addition of this weekend’s races, announced last Saturday, will raise the season total to 14 events.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Tuesday that a variance to the Ohio Department of Health Director’s Order had been granted, allowing for a total of up to 6,000 spectators to attend. Currently purchased event tickets and Mid-Ohio Season Race Passes will be valid for entry. A limited number of tickets remain for sale at midohio.com on a first-come, first-served basis. No tickets will be available for purchase at the gate during the race weekend.

“We’re looking forward to an exciting NTT IndyCar Series doubleheader this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course,” Mark Miles, president/CEO, Penske Entertainment Corp., said in news release. “Green Savoree has been an outstanding partner throughout this process, working diligently with the Ohio Governor’s office to ensure the right protocols and procedures are in place to host a limited number of spectators.”

The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will feature 75-lap races on Saturday, Sept. 12, and Sunday, Sept. 13. NBC Sports coverage will begin Saturday with Race 1 at 4:30 p.m. (EDT) on NBC Sports Network and continue with Race 2 coverage Sunday on NBC at 1 p.m. The green flag will drop at 5 p.m. on Saturday and at 1:05 p.m. on Sunday.

Coverage via the NBC Gold App will begin with the opening practice session on Saturday at 2 p.m., and continues through all practice and qualifying sessions. In addition, radio coverage will be available for both races on SiriusXM Ch. 211.

“We greatly appreciate Gov. Mike DeWine’s leadership and support in granting the variance to the sports order to allow a limited number of spectators to attend the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio this weekend,” said Kevin Savoree, co-owner/president and COO of Green Savoree Racing Promotions.

“Our team would also like to thank Lt. Governor Jon Husted, Interim Health Director Lance Himes and Morrow County Health Commissioner Stephanie Bragg for their guidance and time to review our plans.”

In accordance with Ohio’s statewide mask mandate in response to the pandemic, everyone will be required to wear facial coverings while indoors or outdoors on facility property. All spectators will enter the facility through Gate 1 and be subject to a temperature check and health screening upon entry. The CDC’s recommended guideline of at least six-feet of social distancing must be maintained while on property.

Fans are advised to visit midohio.com/covid19 for more information on essential health and safety protocols and social distancing procedures. Additional answers to common questions can be found at midohio.com/covid19faq as well as information for those who had purchased grandstand seats, paddock and pit passes since these areas will be closed during the Honda Indy 200.

“It’s exciting to open our gates to fans again this weekend. The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio is one of Ohio’s premier annual events,” said Craig Rust, president of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. “For those who attend, we ask for everyone’s cooperation and adherence to all the COVID-19 protocols which will be in place.”

The NTT IndyCar Series will run the 36th and 37th races in its history at Mid-Ohio this weekend. The list of previous open-wheel winners includes native Ohioans Bobby Rahal and son Graham.

Bobby Rahal, the 1986 Indianapolis 500 champion, posted consecutive wins at Mid-Ohio in 1985-86 under Championship Auto Racing Teams sanction. Graham Rahal won at Mid-Ohio in 2015 driving for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing under INDYCAR sanction.

Scott Dixon _ the current championship leader with four wins in 2020 _ will return to Central Ohio as the defending event winner. The Chip Ganassi Racing Honda ace will be chasing a sixth Mid-Ohio victory as well as a sixth series championship. Dixon won at Mid-Ohio in 2007 and 2009 under Indy Racing League sanction and 2011, 2012 and 2014 under INDYCAR sanction.

Dixon has a 96-point lead over two-time/reigning series champion Josef Newgarden and his Team Penske Chevrolet. Newgarden won Race 2 of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 on the 1.25-mile World Wide Technology Raceway oval in Madison, Ill., on Aug. 30. Pato O’Ward of Chevrolet-powered Arrow McLaren SP is third in the driver standings, 119 points behind Dixon.

Dixon, who scored his landmark career 50th victory in Race 1 of the doubleheader at WWTR on Aug. 29, stands third on the all-time wins list. Dixon is two wins behind open-wheel icon Mario Andretti on a chart topped by A.J. Foyt Jr.’s 67 victories.

The weekend’s schedule also will include doubleheader races for the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and tripleheader events for the Cooper Tires UF2000 Championship, both part of the Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires development ladder for professional open-wheel racing.

The Global Mazda MX-5 Cup also will run two races across the weekend, adding some full-fender competition to the schedule. The complete weekend schedule is available online at midohio.com.

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NTT IndyCar Series point standings _ 1, Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing, 416; 2, Josef Newgarden, Team Penske, 320; 3, Pato O’Ward, Arrow McLaren SP, 297; 4,Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, 274; 5, Colton Herta, Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport, 250; 6, Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske, 237; 7, Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, 236; 8, Will Power, Team Penske, 226; 9, Santino Ferrucci, Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan, 216; 10, Felix Rosenqvist, Chip Ganassi Racing, 208.

UPDATED 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES SCHEDULE/RACE WINNER
Saturday, June 6 _ Texas Motor Speedway, Fort Worth (Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing)
Saturday, July 4 _ Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course 1 (Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing)
Saturday, July 11 _ Road America Race 1, Elkhart Lake, Wis. (Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing)
Sunday, July 12 _ Road America Race 2, Elkhart Lake, Wis. (Felix Rosenqvist, Chip Ganassi Racing)
Friday, July 17 _Iowa Speedway Race 1, Newton (Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske)
Saturday, July 18 _ Iowa Speedway Race 2, Newton (Josef Newgarden, Team Penske)
Sunday, Aug. 23 _ Indianapolis 500-Mile Race (Takuma Sato, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing)
Saturday, Aug. 29 _ World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway Race 1, Madison, Ill. (Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing)
Sunday, Aug. 30 _ World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway Race 2, Madison, Ill. (Josef Newgarden, Team Penske)
Saturday, Sept. 12 _ Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Race 1, Lexington, Ohio
Sunday, Sept. 13 _ Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Race 2, Lexington, Ohio
Friday, Oct. 2 _ Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course Race 1
Saturday, Oct. 3 _ Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road-Course Race 2
Sunday, Oct. 25 _ Streets of St. Petersburg, Fla.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, September 8 2020
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