After collecting his third Top-5 of the season in Edmonton, Graham Rahal is hoping to keep things rolling on home ground.
But Rahal hasn't had great luck at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where the IZOD IndyCar Series will set up shop this weekend for the Honda Indy 200 (Sun., 12:30 p.m. ET, ABC). The Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who grew up in the nearby town of New Albany, Ohio, has only finished as high as eighth (2009) at his home track in four IndyCar starts.
Calling it "a place that's always kind of stumped me," Rahal is nonetheless confident of putting together a strong showing in front of his fellow Buckeyes.
"We've always been fast there," said Rahal. "We've had some really strong runs, but we always have contact....[Last year], we were kind of charging through the field, made contact with Danica [Patrick]. Things have not been quite what we want. But hopefully we can turn it around here."
Rahal is also trying to raise money for the Columbus Zoo this weekend through his charitable foundation. Mid-Ohio has been selling special race tickets that will have a portion of the proceeds go to the Zoo. In addition, Rahal will also auction off the helmet and gloves he'll wear this weekend, which feature a special cheetah-print design.
In a way, the Zoo is part of Rahal's family; his godfather is famous zookeeper Jack Hanna, who also serves as the Zoo's director emeritus.
"[Columbus is] one of my favorite places in the whole world," said Rahal. "It's home to me and I love it. Certainly, to help Jack would mean a lot. Hopefully, it's something we can continue on in the future."
Delay added to P2P for Mid-Ohio
In the final laps of the IndyCars' most recent race in Edmonton, Takuma Sato was trying to reel in Helio Castroneves for the lead. But any thought of a wheel-to-wheel finish between the two was extinguished by Castroneves' use of his "push-to-pass" overtake system -- or, as it was in this case, a "push-to-defend" system that kept him ahead of the Japanese driver all the way to the checkered flag.
That's always been a problem with P2P: Why bother having it if Driver 1 uses it to try and pass Driver 2, only to have Driver 2 use it to keep the position he's got? Obviously, such tactics defeat the true purpose of the system, which has been tagged by some as a pointless gimmick for this very reason.
P2P returned at Toronto last month, and this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, each driver will have 100 seconds of it to use in the Honda Indy 200. However, INDYCAR has thrown strategy into the mix with P2P by adding a five-second delay to the system in order to keep drivers from using it as a defensive tool.
"You can push the button before you get to the braking zone and when you get on the throttle, it will be on overtake," said INDYCAR director of engine development Trevor Knowles in a league statement. "If you're the car in front trying to defend, the TV won't show when the competitor has pushed it. It will only show when the overtake is active. If he responds, he has five seconds before his overtake cuts in."
Knowles also said in the statement that an additional lockout/recharge period for the system will be considered by the series.
P2P will also be implemented for the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma later this month and next month's Grand Prix of Baltimore.
Other cool stuff
Justin Wilson now has his own social media trading card thanks to a partnership with Milwaukee-based Meet-Meme.com. Wilson will also receive a custom-designed QR code that will help fans follow him through his multiple social media channels. You can keep up with him at Mtme.me/Justin...
Points leader Ryan Hunter-Reay's car will feature a special paint scheme this weekend promoting Pelotonia, a Columbus, Ohio-based bike ride that has raised over $25 million for cancer research since its founding in 2008. This year's race is set for Aug. 10-12...
And last, but certainly not least, Helio Castroneves will return to ABC's Dancing With The Stars later this fall, as the series prepares to stage an "all-star" competition. Castroneves, who won the 2007 DWTS title with pro partner Julianne Hough, will face off against 12 other celebrities from the worlds of sport and entertainment. The season premiere is set for Sept. 24...
Quotes used in this article were taken from INDYCAR teleconferences and bulletins.