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2016 Mid-Ohio: IndyCar - Friday Notebook
Posted by: ASkyler on Jul 30, 2016 - 09:38 AM
IndyCar News
2016 Mid-Ohio: IndyCar - Friday Notebook

Courage of INDYCAR drivers impresses Ohio State football coach Meyer

As head coach of the Ohio State University football team, Urban Meyer knows a lot about the intestinal fortitude it takes to succeed. But even the mega-successful leader of one of the most prominent programs in all of college athletics was impressed by what Verizon IndyCar Series driver Conor Daly does for a living, after Daly delivered Meyer to a Honda STEAM Connections event Thursday on the college's Columbus campus in the INDYCAR Experience street-legal two-seater Indy car.

"Great respect for what you do for a living," Meyer, who has accumulated a 50-4 record with the Buckeyes, including the 2014 national championship, told Daly in front of the assembled group of elementary and middle-school students attending the science, technology, engineering, arts and math gathering. The event was hosted by Honda, the longtime engine and aero kit supplier to the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Daly and Meyer exchanged Ohio State-themed helmets - Daly receiving a football helmet and Meyer the lookalike racing helmet. When asked to compare the athleticism he sees daily on the gridiron to that of Indy car drivers, Meyer's thoughts rapidly went to bravado.

"It's not just athleticism, it takes courage," said Meyer, who also coached the University of Florida to a pair of national titles before taking the reins at Ohio State in 2012. "I just asked (Daly), 'What's the trick?' He said, 'Courage.' You have to not be claustrophobic to be sitting in that thing (an Indy car).

"The biggest thing is the courage to do what they have to do. I know enough about that. It's a very dangerous sport and one that you have to be very focused and on your game."

Students attending the STEAM Connection event were treated to an array of racing vehicles, Honda cutaway passenger cars and more to pique their interest in possible future careers as engineers or designers.

Daly, driver of the No. 18 Jonathan Byrd's Hospitality Honda for this weekend's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, spoke to the group, along with his race engineer at Dale Coyne Racing, Michael Cannon. Daly emphasized that, even at age 24 and after reaching his dream of driving an Indy car, he yearns to learn more every day.

"Pursue it, enjoy it, continue learning," the Noblesville, Ind., native said. "The quest for knowledge never ends. I'm on the same path. I'm trying to learn more about my race car, trying to understand everything about it so I can make it go faster when I get into it."

It's that never-ending curiosity, engineer Cannon added, that makes his job exciting and rewarding.

"One of the neat things about engineering is you never have all the answers," said Cannon, who has worked as a lead Indy car engineer for two decades. "Every day it's something new, every day you probably come home with more questions than what you went to work with. The best engineers I know are the ones that ask the most questions, the ones that refuse to accept the status quo."

Rahal honoring Ohio State football team again at Mid-Ohio

A year ago, Graham Rahal - born and raised in suburban Columbus - drove to a Mid-Ohio victory wearing a racing helmet mimicking the helmet of his favorite college football team, Ohio State University. Still a Buckeyes fanatic, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver is taking it to another level this year.

Rahal unveiled his firesuit for The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio during a fan event Thursday at a Columbus location of his primary sponsor, Steak 'n Shake. The firesuit is designed to look like an Ohio State football uniform with the Steak 'n Shake logo still prominently featured.

Rahal also has a pair of Ohio State-logoed driving shoes and gloves to complete the outfit, in addition to his helmet again resembling the Buckeyes football helmet.

"I'm a huge (Ohio State) fan," Rahal said. "I came up with a suit this year as a marketing concept in my head to not only help the university because I'm a fan, but for Steak 'n Shake, all of our partners, to get great media exposure. I think we've done that."

Veterans Castroneves, Montoya have love-hate relationship with Mid-Ohio course

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course may be one of the favorite circuits for drivers, but it can also be one of the trickiest. Even for successful Team Penske veterans Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya.

"I love Mid-Ohio," two-time Mid-Ohio race winner Castroneves said. "You know every time you go out on this track, the conditions are going to change and you want to predict what will happen with the car, especially with putting on new tires.

"When you put new tires on the car, it'll change a lot," added Castroneves, driving the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet this weekend. "You might have some good cars putting up fast times, but once they put the red Firestone tires on, it'll change, because the reds, the only time we try them (before the race) is in qualifying."

Montoya, driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Hawk Performance Chevrolet, also referenced the ever-changing conditions on the 2.258-mile permanent road course.

"This a tough track because, when we rubber up the track, the balance of the car changes a lot," the 1999 Mid-Ohio winner said. "Sometimes, if you're up in the top early in the weekend, it's hard to stay up in the top throughout the weekend with all the changes we make to the car and the way the track changes."

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