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LONG POND, Pa. (Aug. 23, 2015) – Ryan Hunter-Reay led a 1-2 American finish ahead of Josef Newgarden in the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, and Juan Pablo Montoya’s third-place finish extended his championship points lead heading into the Verizon IndyCar Series season finale Aug. 30.
There were 12 different drivers to lead laps – half of the field – in the 200-lap race on the 2.5-mile triangular oval and 13 cars retired because of contact or mechanical issues.
There also were 12 caution periods – the 11th yellow flag displayed on Lap 180 for the single-car crash of race leader Sage Karam in Turn 1. Debris from the incident hit the trailing Justin Wilson’s No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda. Wilson was transported by helicopter to Lehigh Valley Health Network Cedar Crest Hospital in Allentown, Pa., with a severe head injury. Wilson, 37, from Sheffield, England, is currently in a coma and in critical condition while undergoing further evaluation.
Karam, from nearby Nazareth, Pa., was transported by ground to the same hospital for examination of a right foot injury. INDYCAR will update the drivers’ conditions as details become available.
Six title contenders remain, and with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 30 carrying double base points, the title remains up for grabs. Montoya, who has stood atop the standings since winning the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., in March, entered the third 500-mile race of the season with a nine-point lead over the surging Graham Rahal.
Montoya heads to the 2.385-mile, 12-turn Sonoma Raceway road course with a 34-point advantage over the third-year Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver, whose car was involved in contact on a Lap 93 restart. Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Newgarden also remain eligible for the Astor Cup.
“We took our time and were smart,” said Montoya, who qualified a season-low 19th in the No. 2 Verizon team Penske Chevrolet. “I think we had a car that could win the race, but it wasn’t worth risking it (with title contenders running behind him). We did what we needed to do today.”
Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport, won for the second time this season and 16th time in his Indy car career. Newgarden, also a two-time winner this season in the No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet, earned his fourth podium finish of the season.
Power, the reigning series champion, finished fourth in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and Carlos Munoz was fifth in the No. 26 AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda for Andretti Autosport.
“We came through the field several times and the team gave me what we needed,” said Hunter-Reay, who overtook rookie Gabby Chaves on Lap 196 in Turn 1 and won under caution. “This team has given me great race cars over the years and this was one of them. I hope the fans enjoyed the show because it was fun in the race car.”
On the next lap, Chaves’ No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Curb Honda for BHA with Curb-Agajanian was trailing smoke, which caused the final caution. Chaves, who qualified 16th, led 31 laps.
Pocono Site of Only Judd Victory 27 Years Ago
It was 27 years ago this weekend that what turned out to be an Indy car anomaly occurred at Pocono Raceway. Driving the Truesports Lola, Bobby Rahal won the Quaker State 500 on Aug. 21, 1988, behind the power of a Judd engine. It goes down still as the only Indy car race victory for the English engine developed by its namesake, John Judd, and Formula One legend Sir Jack Brabham.
“That year had been tough initially with the engine,” Rahal recalled this morning from Virginia International Raceway, where he is watching his sports car team compete. “We had been at a deficit to the Chevrolet, which was the dominant engine. We were good on the road courses, but definitely at a deficit to Chevy in terms or power at Indianapolis, Michigan and Pocono (superspeedways).”
In a race of attrition that saw 12 of the 26 cars finish the race, Rahal and second-place Al Unser Jr. were the only drivers to finish Pocono on the lead lap. Indy car greats Emerson Fittipaldi, Rick Mears, A.J. Foyt, Mario Andretti, Danny Sullivan, Michael Andretti, Arie Luyendyk and Al Unser all exited early due to mechanical issues or crashes.
“We qualified third for the race, which I attribute more to the car’s handling than anything,” Rahal said. “Once the race started, it was obvious we were at a deficit and knew we weren’t a threat to win. It wound up being a sort of tortoise-and-hare story. The Chevy teams started having engine problems and dropping out.
“I was leading toward the end,” added Rahal, who took the lead for the first time on Lap 146 of 200 around the Tricky Triangle, “and Al Sr. powered by and I thought that was it. Next thing, I saw him slowing down (with an ignition issue) and the race fell in our lap.”
Rahal led the final 28 laps to secure the 18th of what would be 24 career Indy car victories. The Pocono win vaulted Rahal into the CART points lead, but he wound up finishing third in the championship.
Ironically, the Judd engine was badged a Brabham-Honda when it debuted in CART competition in mid-1986. Rahal is now co-owner of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team that fields his son Graham, who drives a Honda and is second in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship.
Lt. Governor Has ‘Fast’ Meeting with Constituent Mario Andretti
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Michael Stack enjoys meeting residents at various events across the commonwealth, and to share a few moments with one of its most famous residents “was something else.” Of course, riding in the Honda-powered “Fastest Seat in Sports” behind driver Mario Andretti on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway wasn’t conducive to an in-depth conversation.
Stack, an Indy car racing fan “from way back,” attended the ABC Supply 500. Pocono Raceway first hosted an Indy car race in 1971, won by Mark Donohue.
“(The racetrack) is such an important part of Pennsylvania sport and cultural history and it’s a huge economic driver,” Stack said. “I’m a huge supporter of Pocono Raceway and of Indy car racing. I think more and more Pennsylvanians are paying attention to it and, of course, around the country and around the world.”
ABC SUPPLY 500 POST-RACE QUOTES:
WILL POWER (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet):
“The Verizon Chevy was very strong today and we definitely had a car to win, but the circumstances just didn’t allow for it. There were so many yellows and because of that we had to reorganize our strategies throughout the race. Overall we did a great job and our approach is to do as well as we did today in Sonoma. Just do our absolute best and see where it takes us.”
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet):
“Our Verizon Chevy was pretty good all day. We took our time and were smart. I think we had a car that could win the race, but it wasn’t worth risking it (with title contenders running behind him). We did what we needed to do today.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Shell V-Power Team Penske Chevrolet):
“They said it was going green, everybody in the pits. We’re kind of like, “Are we going green? Are we going green?” Roger (Penske) was kind of in doubt as well. As soon as it went green, everybody was still in a fuel-saving mode situation. I was just trying to go outside. I think we didn’t warm up the tires very well and suddenly I lost the rear and just started going. It’s a shame because we had a very fast car. The car was great. It was just one of those things that, I’m not sure how the message could be a little bit faster for my guys up there.”
STEFANO COLETTI (No. 4 KV Racing Technology Chevrolet):
“It is really a shame because the car was quick. We made a lot of improvements since yesterday and I was just starting to learn how to time it to pass the guys in front of me. For sure, I was a lot quicker than them and the car was really comfortable — really good and fast. So as I said, it is a shame because I am sure we would have had a good result today, but the mechanical failure just stopped us.”
RYAN BRISCOE (No. 5 Arrow/Lucas Oil Schmidt Peterson Honda):
“It was a really long race. The No. 5 Arrow Electronics car was pretty good, we just never had quite enough to really get all the way to the front. We had a solid top-10 run and sometimes up to top five, but it was just a hard battle all day long. We fought hard and I would’ve liked more, but it’s good to bring the car home in one piece. Overall it was a good day and right now my thoughts are with Justin Wilson. We’re wishing him the best.”
JAMES JAKES (No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda):
“It was a fairly good day for the No. 7 MediaTech Oculus Honda. The car was a lot better off than where we started all weekend we made some good gains. We put ourselves in a good position but got involved in an incident with Ed (Carpenter) halfway through the race. We had to change the front wing, which hampered us a little bit, but we still managed to get back to the top 10. It’s a shame we couldn’t get a little bit more, but we still earned some points. I’m looking forward to getting back out in Sonoma and keep moving up in the championship points.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet):
“We made a lot of adjustments to the Target car throughout the race and we were really just working with the track changes every time we came in. I was hanging back a bit to save some fuel so we could move up a bit later. It just never really materialized with the way the yellows fell and with that final yellow ending the race with no chance for a restart.”
TONY KANAAN (No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet):
“I have no idea what happened out there, especially in that corner. It’s just not a difficult corner for us. I know they said I was probably under the white line, but I really have no idea. I haven’t seen the in-car footage, but I just lost it. It was unexpected. We had a good car. We were going to try to make it in two (more) stops, we were saving fuel back there. It’s a shame but glad we’re in one piece and get to move on to Sonoma.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Team Mistic E-Cigs-KVSH Chevrolet):
“Obviously a very disappointing day. I don’t think we had the car to compete, but we were going to make the best of it as usual. I was looking for a long race and it turned out pretty short. That restart, they hadn’t swept the track during the yellow and I got shoved a bit to the outside of the track. I was only halfway up the track and there was just marbles and dust. The car spun around and that was that. It is frustrating that my race ended like that with damages we don’t need and losing points. Now we head to Sonoma and hopefully we can finish better, but today is (about) points we are going to miss at the end.
TAKUMA SATO (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda):
“We knew we were strong at Pocono the last two years, but today we struggled at the beginning with the grip and balance. We put a lot of downforce on during the middle of the race because with 20 Indy cars in front of you, the turbulence was huge. Once I got to the front, I needed to take the downforce off because the cars up front were extremely fast down the straight, which we didn’t have at the end. On the last restart, I overtook (Gabby) Chavez and led for a short time, but he overtook me because he had less downforce and I couldn’t keep the momentum. It’s a shame because the guys did a super job and put us in position to challenge for the win. We finished sixth, a good result, but it feels disappointing because we were right there. Still, I appreciate the support from ABC Supply for our team and also sponsoring this race at Pocono. I heard Justin had a big accident and I hope he is OK. I don’t know the status right now but I wish him a super speedy recovery.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda):
“Obviously, I’m frustrated. We had a pretty good race car today. It was slow initially but we were working on it and we got it pretty good. Then we had an issue in the pits that lost us a bunch of spots, so we were trying to work our way back up. (Tristan) Vautier is not known as the smartest guy and you see why. It’s just a shame for this Steak ‘n Shake team going into this championship second in the points right now. We’re going to be watching the Verizon app to see how many points we fall back for the rest of the race. This one hurts. One race to go and this puts a big, big dent in things. (Justin) Wilson and I were coming through Turn 2. There were a lot of guys driving pretty aggressively and Wilson lost momentum and I just stuck it inside of him and we ran from (Turn) 2 down to 3 together, and then Vautier just decided that he wanted to join the party there at the last moment and unfortunately just punted us. He says I turned in on him, but there’s not any space. We’re already two wide, he knows that, he sees that. It just hurts us. As I said to him “You know I’m in the championship hunt for Honda. Why would you do something like that?” He has no answers. We didn’t have the best of days going with the error in the pits, but I knew my guys had gotten a good stop and we were going to fight our way back into this. We were only 90 laps into a 200-lap race. We’re down but we’re not out. We’ve had a good year, nothing to be ashamed about. We’ll go to Sonoma in attack mode.”
TRISTAN VAUTIER (No. 19 Dale Coyne Racing Honda):
“It’s a tough one. I had a big run, obviously it’s three wide so it’s a bit tough. I felt like I had a run, I was almost all the way alongside if not fully alongside, I don’t know. We were three wide, I don’t think Justin (Wilson) knew that probably and I didn’t get any room, obviously. I felt like I deserved a bit of room. I just tried to go down the apron and brake, but it was too late. I obviously feel bad, he is a championship contender for Honda, so it’s always tough and you always have to be the bad guy in this kind of story. My side of the story honestly, I was up alongside quite high and I didn’t even get half a car width to deal with. It was tough, but obviously I feel really bad, feel bad for the guys. We were all looking to be there at the end of the 500-miler.”
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka CFH Racing Chevrolet):
“It was disappointing. For as many problems as we had this weekend and not qualifying well, we were really good in the race. We had worked our way pretty far forward and felt pretty good about how we were looking for the rest of the race. Then (James) Jakes got in the back of us and knocked the bumper pod off. We had to go to our spare wing, which was set at higher level of downforce, which was hurting our pace. Ultimately, we had a mechanical issue. If you look at our results from 2015 on the ovals with the No. 20 car, it looks so bad. We were definitely better than what we showed, it was just one of those years where we couldn’t catch a break. Happy for Josef (Newgarden) to finish second, but more than anything, sending prayers our for Justin (Wilson) and his family.”
CARLOS MUNOZ (No. 26 AndrettiTV Cinsay Honda):
“First of all, we are all thinking of Justin (Wilson) right now. He’s my teammate and a great competitor, you just wish for the best. Today we finished fifth – we’re not really happy with the result. I think, as a team, me and the crew, we were not good in our pit stops. We lost too many spots today, which is not usual for my AndrettiTV/Cinsay crew. I think we had the car to finish in the front, but there were way too many yellows in this race. Now we look ahead to Sonoma and hope to finish the season off on a good note.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 27 Snapple Honda):
“We were monitoring the uprights because I was having to use the brakes to keep the car spooled up, and it just went way too violently. That’s not a normal way for a car to let go, so I think something let go. It’s a bummer. The angle wasn’t very nice, but it’s a tribute to these cars. They’re definitely strong. Just wish the wishbone was a bit stronger. I don’t know what was going on in the restarts. We were like a sitting duck, but once we got going, we were going forward. It took us a while to get the center pressure right because we missed practice last night, so that was the first stint that the car was finally coming alive and we were in the top 10. It was going to be fun the rest of way and we were just taking it slow. It’s a 500-mile race, so just bummer for points and the record we were going after (of completing every lap). It’s a shame.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda):
“This team has given my great race cars over the years and this was one of them. We came through the field many times today. I hope the fans enjoyed the show because it was fun in the race car. We knifed through the field about five times, I think, and there wasn’t anybody out there that we couldn’t get around. It was a pleasure to drive today. Obviously, first and foremost, we’re thinking about Justin Wilson. With heads exposed and when you get flying debris, it’s a bad luck deal. Our thoughts are with him. I know him and his family well, they’re great friends of ours. Really, really just thinking about Justin right now.”
JACK HAWKSWORTH (No. 41 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda):
“I was trying to get my laps back so I wasn’t even racing (Charlie Kimball). I obviously got a good run in, pulled up on the straight on him, pulled out three-quarters of the way down his car going into Turn 1 and he just drove me straight into the apron. Tried to get out of it, tried to avoid it, kind of almost caught it and then he hit me again. I’m just upset for ABC Supply. This is obviously the main event for them this year. We had the problem at the first stop with the wheel nut, but we got going again and we trimmed the car a little bit from the start and we were picking up places and we had a couple cautions fall our way so we could get some laps back. We had a competitive car so I’m truly sorry to the A.J. Foyt guys, all of the ABC Supply guys. Not what we wanted today.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet):
“It was a long, tough day in the car. CFH Racing did a great job working on the thing, tuning it, making it better. Happy with our result, but I’m just thinking about Justin (Wilson) right now and hoping he’s OK.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Chevrolet):
“I just have to start off by giving a lot of credit to the mechanics, the engineers and just the whole team at Chip Ganassi Racing for getting me back on track today after my crash yesterday. The backup car was really good, especially considering that I hadn’t really done a full lap with the backup car and the backup engine. The car was just really good and allowed me to go racing right when I felt comfortable. It took me a little while to find my feet out there, but when I did the NovoLog FlexPen car was there. It was unfortunate that we had the incident mid-race that hindered us a little, but we’ll be able to look at that now and learn from it. After that incident, the car was just never quite right again so we were just safe and tried to take some spots when they came to us.”
GABBY CHAVES (No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Curb Honda):
“Well, what can I say? Obviously after having a shot to win the race, with three laps to go and our engine blew so it is disappointing, but you know, that’s racing. Racing has its ups and downs and today we had both. We led a lot of laps. We showed what we can do when we are in the front. We just didn’t get to finish it out with a result, but I am very proud of this group of guys we have working. Everyone we have at Bryan Herta Autosport and our No. 98 Bowers & Wilkins/Castrol EDGE/Deltro Electric car, I am so proud of. This team is a great family and we know good things are coming. There were a lot of wrecks today and in INDYCAR we are a family. It’s always hard to see your competitors and your friends get hurt, so my prayers along with everyone else’s prayers here are with Justin Wilson and his family.”