LEXINGTON, Ohio – After three consecutive oval races, the Verizon IndyCar Series and Dale Coyne Racing drivers Tristan Vautier and Rodolfo Gonzalez headed to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Honda Indy 200. Vautier made his second IndyCar Series start at the 2.258-mile natural terrain road course and Gonzalez made his first.
With Mid-Ohio being such a high commitment course for drivers, having confidence in the car’s grip is key to putting in fast laps. Both Gonzalez and Vautier pushed hard during practices to get the most out of the higher downforce Honda HPD aero kit, but it didn’t translate to the starting positions the team hoped to achieve. Gonzalez started the race in 22nd position and Vautier started 24th.
Just 2 laps into the race, contact brought out a caution period and Dale Coyne Racing took the opportunity to get both cars off of the harder black Firestone tires and get off strategy to the leaders. This decision paid off for Tristan Vautier as he cycled to the front when the leaders come in for their first stop. This put Vautier in the lead of the race, a position he held for nearly a dozen laps. He was forced to come in for fuel before another yellow came and he was relegated to 20th in the field.
Ultimately, sticking to the alternate strategy worked because he was able to do his last stop with 30 laps remaining. He would have been very close to running out of fuel, but a final caution period allowed him to hold on to his sixth place finish.
“Coming home sixth today is great for me and for the team,” said Vautier. “I had a blast out there. I was able to put in some very good lap times while saving some fuel. It was great to be able to lead some laps with such a good race car. (The team) is a small group of great people and I am having a blast this year. Overall, it was a great end to our race weekend."
Rodolfo Gonzalez was on the same strategy as his teammate and nearly was able to reap the same reward. However, contact with another car in the first dozen laps upset the balance of the No. 18 car and he was not able to do much to maintain the strong position the strategy put him in. While a 21st place finish is not what he had hoped for, he was able to do some running in the top 5 where he held his own against series veterans Justin Wilson and Simon Pagenaud.
The next two weekends will see no competitive action for the series and then back to back races will cap off an fast paced 2015 season. The final races of the season will be at Pocono Raceway and Sonoma Raceway. Coverage of the ABC Supply 500 begins at 2:00 PM ET on August 23 on NBCSN. Audio coverage can be found on the IMS Radio Network on Sirius 212/XM 209.