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IndyCar At Pocono Future In Doubt; Drivers Want To Return

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Chris Owens-IndyCar Series

LONG POND, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – This past Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway could be the last visit to the “Tricky Triangle” for the NTT IndyCar Series.  The IndyCar Series does not have an agreement to return to Pocono in 2020.

The hot rumor circulating around the garage area and paddock is that the race is going to be replaced on the schedule by Richmond Raceway.

The last few years the IndyCars have raced at Pocono have resulted in accidents and tragedy.  In 2015 Justin Wilson was struck in the helmet by a piece of debris from the car of Sage Karam, who had crashed.  Wilson died as a result of his injuries.

In 2018 Arrow Schmidt Petersen Motorsports Robert Wickens was left paralyzed after a first lap multi-vehicle crash.

This past Sunday, on the first lap, there was multi-car crash involving Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato, Andretti Autosport teammates: Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay, Arrow Schmidt Petersen’s James Hinchcliffe and NTT Data Services Chip Ganassi Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist.  Rosenqvist was taken to a local hospital, checked out, released and cleared to drive in the next race at Gateway.

The outrage on Social Media was quick and included Wickens and Karam.

All three drivers that finished on the podium, who are also Series Champions, came to the track’s defense and placed some of the blame on the competitors.

“Honestly I feel bad for Pocono…” said Five-time Series Champion Scott Dixon. “Some mistakes that have happened on track, honestly they could happen anywhere. If you look at Justin or Robby, those can happen anywhere. I feel bad that it gets a bit of a bad taste in that scenario. I think the drivers in a lot of situations can do a better job to help that situation. Honestly, I hope we come back.”

Race-winner Will Power echoed those sentiments.

Three Rivers Karting

“It’s a great oval for us,” said Power.  “Obviously some unfortunate accidents here, like Scott said, that could happen anywhere.  (Pocono) Kind of got a bad rap for that.”

Pocono Raceway was designed in 1959 and each turn was designed after three classic IndyCar venues.  Turn 1 is a copy of the now-defunct Trenton Speedway. Turn 2 is designed after the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Turn 3 is designed after The Milwaukee Mile.

Hinchcliffe felt the accident could have been avoided with a little common sense.

“We were heading into turn two kind of three wide, I knew that wasn’t a good idea, so I backed out,” said Hinchcliffe.  “500-mile race man, I don’t know how many times we have to do this before people figure out you can attack all you want, it doesn’t give a change to win if you’re in the fence.”

Hunter-Reay was equally frustrated by getting taken out on the first lap for the second year in a row.

“This is ridiculous,” said Hunter-Reay.  “I thought we learned our lesson here.  Lap one of a 500-mile race.  I had a nice clean run on Rossi, almost three-quarters of the way up past him and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I’m backwards.

Power and Dixon hope to return to the track because they were seeing some positive signs.

“I felt the crowd today at the start of the race was fantastic,” said Dixon.  “It was gaining some really good momentum. Hopefully it gets to continue.”

“It’s a great oval for us,” Power said.  “The crowd us up 15-percent every year we come back.  It’s getting better.  The crowd was great today.  It’s a good racetrack, man.  A good track for racing.  I really hope we come back.  I think the guys do a great job.  A cool track for us.  It’s hard for us to find good ovals these days that suit our cars.”

Pagenaud believes having a race in the Northeastern United States is key and also hopes the race continues.

It’s a fun track to drive on,” said Pagneaud.  “It would be really unfortunate, because it’s close to New York, a great market for IndyCar. It’s an opportunity to bring people from New York to the IndyCar races.  Hopefully we can come back and hopefully we can keep working with the people at Pocono because it’s been a lot of fun.  As a driver, I really enjoy coming here.”

IndyCar

Josef Newgarden quickest in Monday’s Indy 500 Practice

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Penske Entertainment: Matt Fraver

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 20, 2024) Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden is atop the speed chart after turning a fast lap of 226.238 mph in Monday’s two-hour Indianapolis 500 practice.

Andretti Global’s Colton Herta turned the second quickest lap on the day with a 226.222 in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda.  Herta will start 13th on Sunday.

Front row starter Will Power was third fastest in the No. 12 Verizon Chevy at 226.137.

Pole-sitter Scott McLaughlin managed the 21st fastest lap in the No. 3 Pennzoil Chevy at 224.031.  McLaughlin ran 77-laps as teams focused on race runs.

Three Rivers Karting

Scott Dixon turned the seventh fastest lap in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda to lead Chip Ganassi Racing.  Teammate and reigning series Champion Alex Palou was 19th fastest in the No. 10 DHL Honda.

CGR Rookie Linus Lundqvist was 23rd quick in the No. 8 American Legion Be The One Honda (223.842) followed by fellow CGR rookie Kyffin Simpson in 27th in the No. 4 Journie Rewards Honda (223.337) and Marcus Armstrong in 30th after turning a 222.936 in the No. 11 Ridgeline Honda.

The next and final on-track session is Miller Lite Carb Day practice from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. ET Friday (live, Peacock, INDYCAR Radio Network). Live coverage of the race starts at 11 a.m. ET Sunday on NBC, Universo, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Monday Indy 500 Practice

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IndyCar

Scott McLaughlin Wins Pole Position For 108th Indianapolis 500

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Penske Entertainment: Chris Jones

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 19, 2024) Scott McLaughlin is on the pole position for the 108th Indianapolis 500 mile race leading a Team Penske sweep of the front row.

McLaughlin’s four-lap average of 234.220 mph in the No. 3 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet is the fastest four-lap average pole speed in the history of the race.

“To execute the way we he have as a team, that’s what’s really cool,” said McLaughlin. “You see the time, and then it’s all about just executing”

Joining McLaughlin on the front row are teammates Will Power and Josef Newgarden giving Penske his first front-row sweep since Rick Mears, Danny Sullivan and Al Unser Sr locked out the front row in 1988.

“Pretty cool to get a front row lockout,” said Power who will start second and also finished second in the Sonsio Grand Prix to start the month of May. “I definitely like second place this year. It’s just every single weekend it’s either second in the race or second in qualifying, so I’ll continue that for the rest of the year.”

Chevrolet-powered drivers swept the top eight spots in the 33-car field for the race Sunday, May 26 as Arrow McLaren’s Alexander Rossi will start fourth followed by teammate and NASCAR Cup Champion Kyle Larson in fifth.

Three Rivers Karting

AJ Foyt Racing’s Santino Ferrucci will start sixth with Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay in seventh and Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward in eighth.

Rounding out the third row is the first Honda driver, Meyer Shank Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist.

Four drivers fought for the final three starting spots with Dale Coyne Racing’s Katherine Legge starting 31 followed by Andretti Global’s Marcus Ericsson, the 2022 Indy 500 winner and Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Graham Rahal will start 33rd after getting bumped last year.

“Last year, it still stings,” said Rahal. “It’s not much better being 33rd. I can tell you that. At least we’re in the field, and we’re going to go racing. I know how much it stings on the flip side.”

Legge’s DCR teammate rookie Nolan Siegel failed to make race after crashing on his second attempt as time expired in the session.

“Yeah, super disappointed, obviously,” said Siegel. “Took a swing at it to try and find a half mile an hour to get to where Graham was at, and we were already on the limit of the trim. So I was going to go home because I went flat and did everything I could do. I wasn’t going to go home because I lifted, so here I am.”

Indy 500 Starting Lineup

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IndyCar

Team Penske and Chevrolet Dominate Day 1 of Indy 500 Qualifying

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Penske Entertainment: Walt Kuhn

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 18, 2024) Conspiracy theorists are having a field day after Team Penske swept the Top 3 spots in day one of PPG Presents Armed Forces Qualifying at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The feat comes one month after the team was caught running illegal software in the warmup prior to the Long Beach Grand Prix.  An INDYCAR investigation determined that software, which allowed the push-to-pass system to be active on starts and restarts, was in use at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding.

Two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion posted the fastest four lap average of 233.758 mph, in the No. 12 Chevrolet.  Ironically, Power was the only Penske driver to not use the advantage in St. Petersburg.

Reigning Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden was second-quick with a four-lap average of 233.332 in the No. 2 Chevy and Scott McLaughlin was third quick in the No. 3 Chevy with a four-lap average of 233.293 mph.  Newgarden and McLaughlin were stripped of their St. Petersburg finishes as a penalty, so Saturday was quite the redemption for the team that has had a cloud hanging over them.

“We got an early draw, which helps,” said Power of the qualifying draw where all three Penske cars went out in the first hour when ambient and track temperatures were cooler.

Chevrolet was the story of Saturday as the brand with the bow tie sweeping nine of the Top 12 spots, which are eligible for Sunday’s Top 12 qualifying runs of which the Top 6 will go for the pole position late in the day in the Firestone Fast 6.

Three Rivers Karting

The fastest Honda-powered entry was Andretti Global’s Kyle Kirkwood who posted a four-lap average of 232.764, good for fifth on the day.

The best Chip Ganassi Racing could muster on Saturday was reigning Series champion Alex Palou who posted a four-lap average of 232.306 in the No. 10 DHL Honda.

Palou’s teammates Marcus Armstrong placed 16th in the No. 11 Ridgeline Honda with a four-lap average of 232.183. Rookie Kyffin Simpson was two spots behind in 18th after posting a 231.948 average.

Six-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon will start 21st with an average of 231.851 in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda and Linus Lundqvist will start 27th in the No. 8 American Legion Be The One Honda with an average of 231.506.

Four drivers failed to make the Top 30 and will fight for the final three spots in the 33-car field in Last Chance Qualifying on Sunday including Rahal Letterman Lanigan’s Graham Rahal, who went through the same scenario last year when he failed to make the field on speed but ended up substituting for the injured Stefan Wilson.

Two of Dale Coyne’s cars also failed to make the field on speed including Nolan Siegel and Katherine Legge.

Perhaps the most surprising driver to not make the Top 30 is 2022 500 winner Marcus Ericsson, who is now driving for Andretti Global.

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