Mid-Ohio: What to watch for

Weather is already playing a major role in today’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, as major rains have delayed this morning’s 30-minute warmup session. In addition, NBC Sports Network’s Marty Snider is reporting on Twitter that there is no medical helicopter on the premises and that more of the wet stuff is on the way.

Of course, IndyCars can race in the rain, but even they can’t fight with torrential downpours (or lightning, for that matter). So while we wait and see if this warmup shall be scratched, let’s take a look at the key storylines you’ll need to follow in today’s race.

1. A big day for Will Power?

So far this weekend, Will Power has put together a great run with the fastest time in Friday practice and then winning the pole yesterday. Mid-Ohio is not a passing-friendly track, so that pole may prove fortuitous for the Australian, who is currently 25 points behind championship leader Ryan Hunter-Reay. If he can keep up the pace and his Team Penske crew can prove flawless in the pits, Power can definitely close the gap at least somewhat.

2. Push-to-pass gets a change

Drivers will get 100 seconds of push-to-pass today at M-O, but each activation of the overtake system will be preceded by a five-second delay in order to blunt its usage as a defensive tool (see Helio Castroneves two weeks ago at Edmonton). Drivers will be forced to think ahead in regards to using the P2P or else they’re likely to get passed by another car that’s on the overtake sooner.

3. The Keyhole

Outside of starts and restarts, the main passing opportunity at M-O lies in the Keyhole at Turn 2, a 180-degree, right-hand hairpin. It’s a classic passing zone that sees plenty of side-by-side action throughout the race. Look for some of that aforementioned P2P strategy to play out here too, as the Keyhole breaks up a pair of long straightaways.

4. Dixon’s last stand?

At 61 points back of Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon needs a great result this weekend to keep moving forward in the championship. Dixon has won three times in five IZOD IndyCar Series starts at M-O and will be starting 4th as Alex Tagliani is moving to 14th on the grid thanks to an engine penalty. He knows how to do well here and with his hopes for a third series title on the line, look for him to be on his game today.

UPDATE: A 20-minute warmup is going on now from 9:45-10:05 a.m. ET.