On February 28, 2008, the twelve-year split between the Indy Racing League and Champ Car World Series ended. This led to the cancellation of the 2008 Champ Car season.

The reunification of the two series was not that simple. The first issue to resolve was scheduling. Originally sixteen races were planned for the 2008 season but that grew to nineteen when the Champ Car events at Long Beach, Edmonton and Australia were added to the schedule. A further complication was a conflict on the weekend of April 20. The IndyCar competitors raced at the Indy Japan 300 and Champ Car fulfilled its Long Beach obligations.

Teams would use the Dallara IR-05 chassis with the Honda engine. The Honda HR7R-HR11R used by entrants is 3.5-liter aluminum alloy V8-engine. The fuel-injected normally-aspirated motor produces 650-horsepower at 10,300-rpm. The exception to this chassis/engine combination was at Long Beach where the Champ Car teams would compete with the Panoz DP01 chassis and 2.65-liter eight-cylinder turbocharged Cosworth XFE engine. This would be the last race for the Panoz DP01 in Indy Car competition.

There were some additional newsworthy stories for the 2008 season:

  • The reunification meant there were more cars in the series. As a result, road and street course ‘knockout’ qualifying sessions were used with slower drivers being eliminated from each session - culminating in the ‘Firestone Fast Six.’
  • Qualifying on ovals was changed from a single timed lap to a four-lap average – the method used at the Indianapolis 500.
  • On the driver front – two drivers, Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish, Jr. left the series to participate in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Round thirteen of the 2008 IndyCar Series was held at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio presented by Westfield Insurance would be conducted on the 2.258-mile thirteen-turn road course. Heading into Mid-Ohio, five drivers (Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Dan Weldon, Tony Kanaan and Danica Patrick) still had a mathematical chance of winning the title but they had to finish in front of the point’s leader, Dixon.

Ryan Briscoe started on the outside of the front row and it was Roger Penske’s strategy put him in first place at the end of the race. All cars started the contest on rain tires but the track dried shortly after the start. Biscoe was the last to change tires – taking him out of the pit sequence. This decision was combined with a fuel conservation strategy put Briscoe in first place at the end of the event.
Helio Castroneves entered Mid-Ohio trailing the point’s leader, Scott Dixon by sixty-three markers. In qualifying, the Team Penske driver was quickest and would start the eighty-five-lap contest from the pole. During the race, Castroneves was in contention and as the event came to a conclusion, he was in third place. He inherited a runner-up finish when Bruno Junqueira’s race strategy forced Junqueira to pit for fuel.
Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver, Scott Dixon entered round thirteen at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a sixty-three point lead in the championship. Dixon’s season thus far had included victories at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Indianapolis 500, Texas Motor Speedway and the Nashville Superspeedway. At Mid-Ohio, Dixon lost ground to Briscoe and Castroneves when he finished behind them in third.
Australian, Will Power started the weekend with a very uncompetitive car but the KV Racing Technology team made adjustments to the No. 8 Dallara throughout the weekend. In qualifying, Power recorded the twelfth quickest time. During the race, the team continued to make changes and he moved up the race order. At the finish, Power was in fourth place which to date was his best IndyCar result.
Third generation IndyCar driver, Marco Andretti topped the timesheets in the second practice session. Andretti driving the Andretti Green Racing prepared Dallara was still on pace during qualifying and was third quickest – this was his third top-three start of the season. During the contest, he fell down the race order. On a lap-34 restart, Andretti was one of four drivers involved in an incident and it resulted in his retirement.
A spin by Milka Duno on lap-39 required a full course caution. On the restart, the quicker cars of Justin Wilson and Dan Weldon were mid-pack. Exiting the ‘Carousel’ Wilson made contact with Mario Dominquez and spun. A.J. Foyt IV was the first to slow down and was hit by Dan Weldon. And, Wilson was hit by Marco Andretti. Andretti was the only driver to retire as a result of the incident.
Oriol Servia, Will Power’s teammate at KV Racing Technology, was experiencing the same challenges as Power – an ill-handling car. But the team worked on his car during the event and were able to make improvements for each session. Servia’s time in qualifying placed him eighth on the starting grid. At the checkered flag, he finished behind his teammate, Will Power in fifth place.
Vitor Meira entered Mid-Ohio with eighty-seven IndyCar starts and had the unenviable record of the longest winless drought of drivers currently participating in the series. In qualifying, Meira was eleventh quickest. Competitor’s started the race on rain tires but Meira’s team decided to switch to dry’s on the first lap. This choice put him in first place for twenty-one-laps. After eighty-five laps of racing, he finished sixth.
Justin Wilson drove for Newman / Haas / Lanigan Racing and turned in an excellent qualifying performance – qualifying fourth. Wilson started in the top four at the three street / road course events to date. By the middle of the race, he had a comfortable lead but Milka Duno spun which required a full course caution. On the restart, Wilson tangled with Mario Dominquez and dropped down the order - finishing eleventh.

12Ryan BriscoeDallara IR5 / HondaTeam Penske85-
21Hélio CastronevesDallara IR5 / HondaTeam Penske85-
36Scott DixonDallara IR5 / HondaTarget Chip Ganassi Racing85-
412Will PowerDallara IR5 / HondaKV Racing Technology85-
58Oriol ServiaDallara IR5 / HondaKV Racing Technology85-
611Vitor MeiraDallara IR5 / HondaPanther Racing85-
75Tony KanaanDallara IR5 / HondaAndretti Green Racing85-
821Darren ManningDallara IR5 / HondaA.J. Foyt Enterprises85-
910Hideki MutohDallara IR5 / HondaAndretti Green Racing85-
1015Ryan Hunter-ReayDallara IR5 / HondaRahal Letterman Racing85-
114Justin WilsonDallara IR5 / HondaNewman Haas Lanigan Racing85-
1220Danica PatrickDallara IR5 / HondaAndretti Green Racing85-
139Bruno JunqueiraDallara IR5 / HondaDale Coyne Racing85-
1425Jaime CamaraDallara IR5 / HondaEric Bachelart Racing85-
1522Ed CarpenterDallara IR5 / HondaVision Racing85-
1614Graham RahalDallara IR5 / HondaNewman Haas Lanigan Racing84-
1713Dan WeldonDallara IR5 / HondaTarget Chip Ganassi Racing84-
1823A.J. Foyt IVDallara IR5 / HondaVision Racing84-
1916Mario DominquezDallara IR5 / HondaPacific Coast Motorsports83-
207Buddy RiceDallara IR5 / HondaDreyer & Reinbold Racing82-
2124Marty RothDallara IR5 / HondaRoth Racing80-
2217E.J. VisoDallara IR5 / HondaHVM Racing80-
2326Milka DunoDallara IR5 / HondaDreyer & Reinbold Racing79-
2419Mario MoraesDallara IR5 / HondaDale Coyne Racing61Off Course
253Marco AndrettiDallara IR5 / HondaAndretti Green Racing41Accident
2618Enrique BernoldiDallara IR5 / HondaConquest Racing8Accident

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