Since the Izod IndyCar Series debuted at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2007, it was tethered to the American Le Mans Series.
With major league open-wheel racing sharing the bill with top-level sports car racing, it made for a spectacle. But it also made the weekend suffocating.
The double main event always felt like 30 gallons of fuel were being poured into a 15-gallon tank. It was too much.
For 2013, that won’t be a problem. Due to a scheduling conflict with ALMS, IndyCar will be a stand-alone event as the Honda Indy 200 takes center stage Friday through race day on Sunday with a special test day set for Wednesday, too.
Fans won’t be short-changed with the loss of ALMS.
The Honda Indy 200 was given five more laps, going an even 90 for a race slated to start at 3:40 p.m. for a national television audience watching on NBC Sports Network. The Firestone Indy Lights return to Mid-Ohio for the first time since 2010, and it will hold a 40-lap race Sunday that will also be aired by the network.
The Pro Mazda Championship will hold two races over the weekend, the USF2000 National Championship will race three times, and the Pirelli World Challenge Championships will put on four races, two races each for its GT and Touring classes.
That’s 11 races. Adding in practice sessions and qualifying for all the series and fans can see almost 29 hours of action on the track this upcoming weekend.
But the main event is IndyCar, and here’s a closer look at what’s happening in the series this season:
• WIDE-OPEN RACING: The results have been unpredictable.
There have been eight different winners in 13 races representing seven teams. Seventeen drivers from 10 teams have made at least one podium this year.
Oddly none of those wins have come from four-time champ Dario Franchitti or Will Power, the series runner-up the last three seasons. The best either has done this year is third place.
• DIXON HOT: Known as “Mr. Mid-Ohio” with his track-record four IndyCar wins in the last six years, Scott Dixon comes to Lexington with momentum.
He’s won the last three races (Pocono and Toronto doubleheader) and vaulted himself into the championship after a middling start to the year saw him post just a second-place effort at Barber Motorsports Park.
• HELIO LEADING: Helio Castroneves lacks one thing on a his resume — a championship.
With just six races left, the popular racer leads the standings with a 29-point edge over Dixon, a 69-point cushion over ESPY-winning and series defending champion Ryan Hunter-Reay and a 70-point lead over Marco Andretti.
Photo: Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon drives to the win during the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last August for a track record fourth time in six years. / Jason J. Molyet/News Journal
Rob McCurdy covers motor sports for the News Journal and can be reached at email@example.com or 419-521-7241. On Twitter follow @McMotorsport.