Scott Dixon emerged fastest from the first practice session for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda hit the front midway through the 45-minute session with a lap of 1m06.973s and it held up. Spencer Pigot was a strong second for Ed Carpenter Racing and Chevrolet, 0.1482s back, with Simon Pagenaud third just 0.1692s behind in his No. 22 Team Penske entry, back in florescent Menards colors this weekend.
The session got off to a quiet start in clear, sunny conditions, with only the rookies (who have the luxury of an extra set of tires) laying down significant laps on the 2.25-mile road circuit in the first half of the session. This was typical for a track notorious for not offering significant feedback until it rubbers up.
“Everybody who’s raced at Mid-Ohio knows how it evolves (throughout the event),” noted Dixon, a five-time winner here. “It’s not so much the driver getting the most out of the car, which is something you have to do every weekend — it’s keeping up with changes and making sure you understand what you need, especially when it comes to the red tires and going as fast as possible.”
“The blacks (tires) were kind of getting quicker and quicker the first run, and then I couldn’t quite match it after that,” related Pigot. “This is a really tough track (for tires) — a lot of long-duration corners. The left front takes a big beating with the Carousel, the Keyhole, and all the twisty parts on the back side. It will be good to get the reds on this afternoon and see much quicker they are — and also how they last.”
Figuring it all out was made more complicated by some track sealer patches in the Keyhole complex that were already coming up in the opening session, prompting a variety of late-apex lines as drivers sized up how best to deal with it. There were a couple of minor off-course excursions, but no car-damaging incidents.
R.C. Enerson, making his debut with Carlin Racing’s No. 31 Lucas Oil Chevy, was impressively on the pace with the other rookies straight away, before winding up 21st overall.
UP NEXT: Practice 2 at 3:15 p.m. ET.