NTT IndyCar Series was back from summer holiday with the ABC Supply 500 Miles race at Pocono Raceway.
Saturday was plagued by rain, so the cars weren’t on the track at all on the first two practices, and the qualifying that should’ve come straight afterwards was also cancelled. That was why the starting grid was decided based on the championship standing.
It meant that Josef Newgarden started on Pole Position, ahead of Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon, Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
The start was extremely chaotic, where the drivers began accelerating way too fast in the back of the field, before the green flag was waved. It caused panic and also that Simon Pagenaud was leading into the first corner, in front of Newgarden, while Rossi fell back down the field.
On the way into Turn 2 everything went wrong. Five cars were involved, when Takuma Sato did something very reckless as he drove side by side with Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay. In the middle of the straight, Sato turned to the left and hit both Hunter-Reay and Rossi. Sato himself was sent into the armco on the inside of the track, where afterwards three cars went sideways. Felix Rosenqvist was caught and sent over the SAFER barrier, but luckily with the bottom down, so he only flew sideways, with the front up over the fence, before he landed on the asphalt, still on the bottom. James Hinchcliffe was met by a wall of stranded cars, and he couldn’t manage to brake, so his car also got damaged.
Sato’s car was upside down, halfway on top of Hunter-Reay’s car, but luckily he was unscathed. But there was no doubt that it was an idiotic behaviour by Sato, on the first lap of a 500-mile race, which some of the drivers involved would point out afterwards.
Felix Rosenqvist was taken to the hospital due to some kind of injury, that the doctors wouldn’t specify, other than it wasn’t life-threatening. A couple of hours later he was checked thoroughly at the hospital and was allowed to come back to the track before going home.
The race director chose to red flag the race, since the barriers were too damaged for the race to continue.
The red flag also meant that Sato’s, Rossi’s and Hunter-Reay’s mechanics went to repair the cars, to see if they could get them ready for the race. The stewards opted to give them each a ten-lap penalty if they managed to go back to the track.
The cars were sent out on warm-up laps, almost an hour after the race got stopped.
The team had put four new tires on Will Power’s car, but one of them had a slow puncture, so he had to get in for a new one, while the other cars were still on the warm-up laps. From P3 to P13, since he was lucky to merge in the middle of the field again after his pitstop.
After four laps of warm-up, the drivers were ready for green flag.
Dixon got en god start, and was quickly past Newgarden, up to P2 behind Pagenaud.
Zach Veach was the first to do the obligatory pitstop, and he chose to pit a couple of laps before the others. Pagenaud was the first of the drivers in front to pit, while Dixon did it one lap afterwards, and Newgarden two laps after the Frenchman.
Santino Ferrucci drove past Dixon with the help of warmer tires, while Rahal and Bourdais overtook Newgarden for the same reason.
41 laps into the race, there was Full Course Caution when Spencer Pigot hit the wall in Turn 1 by himself. He explained later that the car just didn’t want to turn and he ended up in the wall.
The race got restarted five laps later, where Will Power immediately tried to overtake Simon Pagenaud, meanwhile Dixon kept his distance from the two of them. Power took the lead one lap later, and with a pitstop right before the yellow flag, he was in the same strategy as the others despite the early puncture. Yes, he even had some extra fuel for a couple of laps compared to most of his competitors.
Pagenaud reclaimed the lead a few laps later, building up a nice gap to Power again.
The SPM mechanics got Hinchcliffe’s car ready, and he joined the race 49 laps behind.
Dixon overtook Ferrucci again and was halfway between Power and Ferrucci, so he was in a reasonable distance from potential problems.
Colton Herta was also on the way up the field. He was currently in sixth place after starting the race in P14.
Dixon pitted again after 71 laps, when the two leading cars began to encounter traffic. Actually, there was so much traffic that Pagenaud lost the lead to Power again.
Pagenaud pitted one lap later, and it was enough for both Dixon and Ferrucci to be ahead of him.
Shortly afterwards there was another yellow flag, when Colton Herta lost control of the car in the exit of Turn 2. Luckily he was okay and could jump out of the car by himself.
This time Will Power got caught on the wrong side of the yellow flag, so he had to pit from the lead and fell back to seventh place.
The race got restarted with Dixon in the lead, followed by Ferruci, while Pagenaud considered overtaking Ferrucci but he chose to pull back. Power did two overtakes already before the first corner, and he was up to P5.
After 104 laps, the drivers started to pit again for the third time. Dixon managed to come out in front, while Pagenaud was second, right ahead of Ferrucci who immediately went to attack the Frenchman.
Dark clouds also began to drive over the track, and the question was whether it would rain or the clouds would drive past again.
Power waited for five laps longer than Dixon to pit, which put him in second place after rejoining the field, right in front of Simon Pagenaud. He managed to keep the Frenchman behind him. Power actually had so much speed that a few laps later he could start attacking Dixon, whom he overtook on lap 115.
Dixon and and his team communicated over the radio, that the car didn’t feel as it did earlier in the race. On the other hand, Power must have had the perfect set-up as he quickly built up a five-second gap to Dixon.
127 laps into the race there was again a yellow flag period, this time due to some thunderstorm in the area. It then switched to red flag, and the car went back to the pitlane and the race was neutralised.
Due to the rain and thunder in the area, the race director chose not to restart the race.
It meant that Will Power had his first win of the season, ahead of Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud, Santino Ferrucci, Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter, Sebastien Bourdais and Tony Kanaan.
Newgarden extended the lead in the championship to Alexander Rossi, who is still second, but now only five points ahead of Simon Pagenaud, who has a 12-point advantage to Scott Dixon. Even though Power won the race today, he is still 128 points away from Newgarden and as good as out of the championship battle. It’s still possible for him to win the title, but with four drivers ahead of him and 128 points to catch up and only three races left, it’s almost impossible.
The next race will be run already this coming Sunday, when NTT IndyCar Series heads to World Wide Technology Raceway – or what most people know as Gateway near St. Louis, Illinois, where an evening race will be run on yet another oval track.