GOOD COVERAGE, BAD RATING ON TV – For as much flack as ABC has taken for its treatment and coverage of IndyCar races in recent years, particularly since 2009 when it's been reduced to a bit player in the schedule with only five to six races with the rest on the NBC Sports Network, credit must be given to the network for its cooperation with NBCSN and its handling of the race on Sunday.
Knowing that most of its IndyCar crew would be on respective NASCAR duties in either Pocono for Sprint Cup or Iowa for Nationwide (crew was distributed both places), ABC could have produced a half-baked, far from satisfactory broadcast with replacement talent. Luckily, through cooperation between the two networks, ABC was able to bring in the NBCSN talent and crew, and didn't miss a beat.
Once you got past the awkward vision of the NBCSN crew in ESPN gear and microphones, the broadcast was smooth sailing. The subtleties of a race at Mid-Ohio – usually one that's fairly dull – were brought to the surface in great detail. If teams were on two- versus three-stop strategies, plus the balance of knowing the gaps or delta times needed to hold or change position on pit stops, was presented in great detail.
At times it almost seemed an information overload – Kevin Lee's lap 13 report about Graham Rahal possibly still staying with Ganassi for 2013 even as his contract expired, but noting the team still plans to stay at four cars, came in the middle of the first sequence of pit stops for those teams opting for a three-stop strategy. Still, it was a case of better to have too much information rather than not enough, and for that a major tip of the cap needs to be offered to all.
From a nostalgic perspective, with this set to be his last year full-time in the booth, it was great to see Bob Jenkins on ABC one last time. Jenkins was a stalwart of ABC and ESPN's NASCAR and early IRL years for several decades.
The downside – an overnight TV rating of 0.6 on ABC is the lowest rated of six ABC races this season, if higher than all NBCSN broadcasts.
ALSO OF NOTE – Alex Tagliani recorded his sixth top-10 finish in eight races since he and the Team Barracuda-BHA team switched to Hondas at Indianapolis, and made the Firestone Fast Six for the fourth successive race. Tagliani was one of two drivers to incur a 10-spot grid penalty, but recovered well from 14th to 10th by the flag.
Marco Andretti (RIGHT) had his best weekend on a road or street course all season, with a start and finish of eighth. Knowing his desire to improve and challenge for wins, he will only push himself more for the final three races.
Outside of Kanaan's stellar run, the rest of the KV squad continued its struggles, with Rubens Barrichello and E.J. Viso joining TK in failing to advance from group one in qualifying, and finishing 15th (Barrichello) and 20th (Viso). Barrichello has not scored a top-10 finish on a road course since a tenth at Brazil in April.
Bourdais' fourth place took him ahead of de Silvestro by two points for 24th in the overall standings – despite Bourdais missing three oval races. If that doesn't sum up the plight of de Silvestro and HVM's season stuck with Lotus, nothing will.
Speaking of points, in the separate road course standings, Power leads Dixon by 63 markers and can clinch his third consecutive road course sub-championship next race if he maintains a gap of at least 54 points. Only four points from second to fourth in those standings separate Dixon, Castroneves and Hunter-Reay.
Pagenaud can clinch Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year honors, officially, next race as he currently holds an all-but-unassailable 137-point gap (311 to 174) over Newgarden.
The series is on a three-week break before the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, although there will be a test there on August 17.