After frustrating finishes in the last two IZOD IndyCar Series races, Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver Alex Tagliani nearly notched a top five finish in Sunday’s The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

Driving the No. 77 Bowers & Wilkins Honda/Dallara/Firestone car, the Canadian started eighth and never dropped out of the top 10 before he crossed the finish line in sixth place after a hot, grueling race on the 2.4-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

“We had a good start and picked up a spot, and the team did a great job with good pit stops,” said Tagliani after the race. “Everybody worked really well over the weekend. It’s a decent result. We had a good balanced car, but just not enough grip. I was really pushing hard all weekend long to try and get lap times out of it. On the last restart, I got caught on the inside and I didn’t want to risk it. Sato and TK went three deep. I kept the car clean and its good sixth-place points.”

With rolling terrain, and both fast and slow corners, the Mid-Ohio circuit is challenging test for the IndyCar Series drivers. It’s a track where drivers earn every pass.

“It was hard work just to keep the car at its limits without making any mistakes,” said Tagliani. “Good fitness and good training is always good for tracks like this, but I feel good. Overall, it was a fair weekend for the Bowers & Wilkins team.”

The Sam Schmidt Motorsports team fielded a second car for just the third time this season at Mid-Ohio this weekend.

Rookie Martin Plowman, driving the No. 17 Snowball Express AFS/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, ran a solid first race. The young Brit started 26th and passed several cars during the first fuel stint, but was shuffled to the tail of the field after experiencing a gear-box issue during his first pit stop. He passed several cars throughout the day before finishing 18th.

“I’m proud of the entire Sam Schmidt Motorsports team today,” said team owner Sam Schmidt. “Martin did everything we asked of him, and maybe even a little more. Alex also had a good day with a strong sixth-place run, which will help him get back up in the points.”

Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon won his first IZOD IndyCar Series race of the year by dominating the last half of the 85-lap race. The win is Dixon’s 26th career victory and ties him with Rodger Ward for 12th on the all-time Indy car win list. It is also the fifth consecutive Mid-Ohio race that Dixon has led.

Dixon’s Ganassi Racing teammate Dario Franchitti finished second ahead of Andretti Autosports Ryan Hunter-Reay. KV Racing teammates Takuma Sato and Tony Kanaan rounded out the top five.   

There were two caution periods for a total of nine yellow flag laps. There were seven lead changes among five drivers. Dixon led the most laps with 57. Dixon also won the Peak Performance Pole award on Saturday, proving his dominance on the weekend.

With 11 of the 17 IZOD IndyCar Series races in the books, Franchitti leads the point championship with 428. Team Penske’s Will Power is second with 366.

With his sixth-place finish, Tagliani is close to climbing back into the top-10 in points. He is in 11th with 214 points, while Panther Racing’s JR Hildebrand is 10th with 222.

The next IZOD IndyCar Series event is the Indy 225 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH, on Sunday, August 14. The race broadcast starts at 3:30 p.m. ET with TV coverage provided by ABC.

Date:                          Aug. 7, 2011

Event:                        The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Round 11 of 17)

Series:                       IZOD IndyCar Series

Location:                  Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio (2.4-mile road course)

Start/Finish:            8th/6th (Running, completed 85 of 85 laps)

Winner:                    Scott Dixon of Ganassi Racing