In a Nutshell: A competitive race ended under somber circumstances as a late-race accident involving Justin Wilson and Sage Karam cast a pall over Pocono Raceway. The incident resulted in both drivers sustaining injuries, with Wilson’s condition being largely unknown at the time of writing. Ryan Hunter-Reay claimed his second victory of the season, but that was the least of anyone’s concern by the race’s conclusion.
Key Moment: On lap 180, rookie driver Karam spun coming out of turn 1 and crashed hard on corner exit, creating a massive debris field that the rest of the field quickly tried to maneuver through. Karam’s nose cone continued to bounce long after Karam’s crash and made direct impact with the helmet of driver Wilson. Karam sustained a foot injury in the crash, but was otherwise deemed to be OK. Wilson, on the other hand, did not fare as well. At the time of writing, all that is known of Wilson’s condition is that he sustained a head injury due to the incident and was unconscious and unresponsive when safety workers extracted him from his car.
The Highlight/Lowlight Reel
- Wilson’s incident was, without question, the only item on people’s minds has the race reached its conclusion. The race did resume after the wreckage was cleared however, and ended under yellow conditions due to an engine failure on Gabby Chaves’s car with four laps to go.
- The tone of the race from the moment of the accident on was understandably somber. The NBCSN broadcasting crew did their best to stay composed and focused on the action, but there was no denying the pervasive sense of gloom in the wake of Wilson’s injury.
- The race itself was extremely competitive throughout, and Pocono’s wide 2.5-mile layout played host to a style of draft-intensive racing that was remarkably similar to what has been seen at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for this series in recent years. The field stayed together in a long draft-train for the duration of the race, and passing was plentiful throughout the field. Unofficially, there were a track record 31 lead changes in the event.
- Graham Rahal, a primary contender for the IndyCar Series title, suffered an early-race crash that left him with a 20th-place finish. In any other race, a championship contender suffering an early race DNF would be a leading story in this column, but obviously that was not the case this time around. Rahal was the victim of a failed pass attempt from Tristan Vautier, who forced Rahal and Wilson three-wide heading into turn 3 around the one-third mark of the event. Rahal and Vautier crashed hard, and the incident led to Rahal berating Vautier. Now sitting 34 points out of the championship lead, Rahal will have a large hill to climb in the season finale next Sunday at Sonoma to topple championship leader (and third-place finisher) Juan Pablo Montoya for the series title.
- The race was a very sloppy one from start to finish in terms of cautions. A rash of wrecks throughout the race netted the event with 13 cautions and only 11 cars running at the finish. One can only hope that the series finale next week is a cleaner overall event.
Notable Drivers: Ryan Hunter-Reay
Hunter-Reay ran a superb race all day long and was a deserving victor at the end of the race. Hunter-Reay made a series of daring passes in the race’s waning laps to grab and maintain the lead en route to his second victory on the season. But perhaps more importantly, Hunter-Reay’s class in victory lane was what shined the most. Instead of going on about his win, Hunter-Reay went out of his way to profess his concern for his friend Wilson and wanted nothing more than an update on his condition. That sort of humility and selflessness is precisely what makes Hunter-Reay the well-respected veteran of the sport that he is.
“Hate seeing this race finish this way. I really wanted a thrilling finish to watch as did all of you, but glad no more accidents.”
Juan Pablo Montoya
“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.”
“We came through the field several times and the team gave me what we needed.”
At the time of writing, no updates were available on the condition of Wilson. Frontstretch will continue to publish updates on Wilson’s condition when they become available.
Next week’s race will be the season finale at Sonoma Raceway. The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma can be watched live on Sunday, August 23, 2015 at 4 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.