The Frontstretch: IndyCar Race Rewind: Pocono 400 by Huston Ladner -- Monday July 8, 2013

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IndyCar Race Rewind: Pocono 400

Huston Ladner · Monday July 8, 2013

 

In A Nutshell: Scott Dixon drove what could called a stealthy, sneaky race. Starting back in the field, he had a more than competent car that allowed him to steadily pass other drivers, though not in any dramatic fashion. With the pit road calamity between Takuma Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dixon was able to turn the race into one that had much to do with fuel mileage, which was an area where not only he but his Honda excelled.

With a late-race surge to the front, plus proper fuel strategy Honda-powered Scott Dixon emerged as an unlikely victor at Pocono.

Following Dixon across the line was Charlie Kimball, who after one serious attempt at taking the lead, settled in for second. Dario Franchitti, who’s season has been a mess, took the final podium position. Will Power and Josef Newgarden comprised the rest of the top five.

Key Moment: For Tony Kanaan’s sake, let’s hope he has a short memory. Sitting in second place, he was racing Dixon for the lead – and the opportunity to add an extra $250,000 if he finished in first, part of the Triple Crown this season. He smartly drafted, pulled up tight, and in the process of overtaking Dixon clipped the right side of his front wing. That was it, day over for Kanaan. With a floundering wing, he pit chief wisely called him in and Dixon had clear track ahead.

Highlight Reel

- Pocono. Sure, the stands weren’t packed, but there was a solid fan presence – something that must be considered a success. The fast speeds, the average for the race was nearly 193mph, and the novelty of having IndyCar return to the track both contributed to this aspect. With that being noted, it seemed that passing was incredibly difficult as there was almost nothing in the way of a second groove. It would seem that for the racing to become truly special some scrutiny towards this aspect must be undertaken.

- What was that? Takuma Sato nailed Ryan Hunter-Reay on pit road. Sato later said that he misjudged his entry, but it still seemed like another example of Sato’s continued ineptitude. Though James Hinchcliffe, spending time in the ABC broadcast booth, did his best to defend Sato, the move resonated as the reason that Sato, though quite talented, is looked down upon by many.

- Regard it a little bit surprising that Will Power earned a 4th place finish at Pocono. Never known as one to excel on the ovals, this result has to be somewhat of a positive and might resuscitate his season a bit. Now sitting 9th in points, and with a slew of road courses coming up, might he have a chance to make a run up the standings? Possibly, though sitting over 100 points back of the leader, a championship is unlikely.

- Marco Andretti had the car to beat. By lap 20 he had a three second lead and was cruising. Too bad that he was burning fuel like no one else. The question the team will undoubtedly face in reviewing the race is whether they should have run flat out and came in for a splash rather than going into a fuel conservation strategy. Andretti has made great strides as a driver this year but still seems to be undone by

- A seventh-place finish is not one to normally get giddy about. However, Helio Castroneves must be somewhat pleased with his result – of course, that is predicated on the fact that his top competitors for the championship, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti both had forgettable days. While his 25 point lead is hardly stout, he’s still atop the standings and the season is more than half over.

- The Chevrolet engines have paced the field for much of the season, so consider Pocono a positive response in the engine manufacturer battle. With Honda taking the top three spots, and four of the top five, the results indicate that Honda may have developed a way to compete with the bow-tie. Can this strong showing be a part of the upcoming road races?

Josef Newgarden excelled on Sunday, collecting a solid top-5 finish for a team whose funding pales in comparison to IndyCar’s “A” level organizations.

Notable Driver: It’d be easy to nominate Charlie Kimball as a driver that should get some special recognition, but driving for Ganassi it’s not too much to ask for a podium result every now and then. So how about giving a tip o’ the cap to Josef Newgarden, who pilots the underfunded Sarah Fisher Hartman Honda. Though Newgarden still languishes in the 15th position in points, earning results like this one (fifth) certainly helps the team and shows that they have the potential to be competitive.

From the Twittersphere:
The Twitter ramblings were rather scarce, but here’s a few of them:

Marco Andretti @MarcoAndretti
Absolutely gutted. We were flying.

Ryan Hunter-Reay ‏@RyanHunterReay
Had a great race going running P2 until Sato ran over us in pitlane. Worst part is re-injured my thumb. One of those days. On to Toronto

Helio Castroneves @h3lio
Had a solid car but not the result we expected but Good 2 build points lead!! Can’t wait for Toronto! Tomorrow SKF appearance.

James Hinchcliffe @Hinchtown
Not our day. Just lost it. Thought I was taking it easy! Just shows how on edge we race these cars. Chin up for TO. Thx for the messages.

Tony Kanaan ‏@TonyKanaan
Sorry to all my friends and fans today. I made a mistake and that cost us a fight to win. Thanks for the support. Lets move on to Toronto.

What’s Next: The series takes on its second double-header weekend of the season with a visit to Toronto on July 12th and 13th. The events will be shown on NBC Sports Network at 3:00 est. One race features the standing start, while the other has the common rolling one. It will be interesting to see if the two races will be as dynamically different as the ones at Detroit earlier in the year.

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Steve
07/08/2013 07:20 AM
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As a huge fan of IndyCar, I still hate races where fuel mileage, not speed of the car win races.

Steve K
07/10/2013 06:10 PM
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Fascinating to see the Ganassi’s outsmart the field. I could see this happening about the half way mark. I found it to be very entertaining as it played out.