If yesterday at Pocono Raceway was a temperamental summer day, ending with a storm… today is a fall-esque dream and ripe for racing. The clouds are still lingering, but lacking precipitation concerns. The sun should be shining down on us for the postponed start of the Verizon IndyCar Series ABC Supply 500 contest, this afternoon.
The race will be broadcast live today, Monday 8/22 on NBCSN starting at 12:00 p.m. ET, with the green flag set to wave at 12:09 p.m. ET. The 22-car field will be led by Russian, Mikhail Aleshin, who achieved his first career pole this weekend. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver earned the Verizon P1 Award in the Poconos with a 220.445 2-lap average in the No. 7 SMP Racing Honda.
The only unknown in regards to weather today, is the wind. It is quite breezy this morning, so much so that I put my hood up while taking a stroll through the paddock this morning. We are expecting 25mph gusts to frequent the track throughout the day, which could make for some interesting racing maneuvers – hopefully the gusts will not throw a wrench into anyone’s day.
Some wrenches, per say, have already been thrown into a few drivers paths this weekend. Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay, who is the defending race winner, starts from the very back of the field due to heavy damage sustained by the No. 28 Chevy in Saturday morning practice, which was unable to be repaired in time for qualifying a few hours later.
Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 2 Penske Truck Rental Chevy, Team Penske) and Scott Dixon (No. 9 Target Chevy, Chip Ganassi Racing) are the only other drivers in today’s field that have come out victorious at Pocono in past Indy car events. Montoya starts from P15 and Dixon in P19. The two drivers were in a battle showdown last year, both gunning for the Astor Cup – this year, the defending series Champion, Dixon finds himself still in contention to repeat that feat. He runs fifth in points right now but the numbers don’t lie, and he still sits with the opportunity to defend his title in Sonoma next month.
Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Chevy, Team Penske) is the current points leader and has been for the majority of the 2016 season. He starts today from the inside of Row 6, in P11. Could this be his year or could teammates Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Chevy, Team Penske) and Helio Castroneves (No. 3 HItiachi Chevy, Team Penske) have something to say about that? They sit second and third in points respectively and each have Championships already on their resumes – Power in 2014, Castroneves in 2001, 2002 and again in 2009. Power will have a view of the green flag this afternoon from P8, while Castroneves will get a glimpse slightly sooner – from the vantage point of Row 2, P4.
Josef Newgarden is the other contender for a Championship this year, and he’s a realist when it comes to his chances. He commented on Saturday after qualifying that the pressure for the Championship lies more on Pagenuad and Power to maintain the lead they have, but in regards to himself states that yes, the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing has the potential to win but would need to have a very good showing at Watkins Glen and would need to win at Sonoma in the finale.
Regarding the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway, he maintains that level-headed sense about things as we near the completion date on Aug. 27 – this Saturday:
“If Texas just played out, I would have been crashed out of the race. That’s what it would have been. If you look at it from that angle, that if the rain didn’t come, they finished the race, this would have been a done thing, right? It’s only odd because it’s never happened before. This is so unprecedented. That’s the only way it makes it kind of odd, you know. So if you look at it (that way), it’s not that weird. I already finished where I finished there.”
Newgarden starts on the outside of Row 1 today. This ties his best starts of the season, when he qualified P2 at both the Indianapolis 500 in May, and the Iowa Corn 300 in July. Newgarden’s last pole (and first career P1 Award) was at the Milwaukee Mile last year.
Verizon IndyCar Series track times for the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway:
Saturday, August 20:
Practice #1 – 9:00 – 10:30 a.m. ET
Qualifying: 1:30 – 2:45 p.m. ET
Practice #2 – 5:00 – 5:30 p.m. ET
Sunday, August 21: (postponed due to weather)
Systems Check – 11:30 a.m. – 11:35 a.m. ET
ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway – 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. E.T.
Monday, August 22:
ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway – 12:00 p.m. ET
The race will be broadcast live on NBCSN.
Qualifying will be broadcast as a tape delay on Saturday night/Sunday morning on NBCSN at Midnight ET.
Practice sessions will be livestreamed.
All links to livestream and IndyCar radio coverage is available here.