By: Phil Mathew
August 18, 2019 | 12:00 PM
With just four races left in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season, today’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway stands as a major test as to who will hold the Astor Cup at Laguna Seca in a month’s time.
Since qualifying was cancelled due to rain, the top four in points – Josef Newgarden, Alexander Rossi, Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon – will start from the first two rows.
All four drivers have had their share of success on ovals, with Rossi (2018) and Dixon (2013) former winners at The Tricky Triangle. Newgarden has two wins on ovals in 2019 (Texas, Iowa) while Pagenaud won the Indianapolis 500 in May. With this in mind, the title combatants all have a real chance to take what might be the last win at Pocono for a while.
After practice yesterday afternoon, a few other drivers stand out as possibilities for an upset. Tony Kanaan led the practice and felt good about his ABC Supply Chevy in race trim. However, starting 19th means that the generally considered Most Popular Driver in the series will have to make one of his usual entertaining starts to make up ground early.
Another exciting figure that has stood out on ovals is Connecticut rookie Santino Ferrucci. The driver of the Cly-Del Honda has shown a maturity and poise that less than a year ago may have been in question on and off the racetrack.
Ferrucci has embraced being back in the U.S. and a new lease on life. Engaging fans and media alike, Ferrucci has done plenty of talking in the race car and showed there might be two grooves for cars to utilize this afternoon after testing the waters in the practice.
One takeaway from the practice session were the struggles for Newgarden, two-time Pocono winner Will Power, and the Ed Carpenter duo of Spencer Pigot and Carpenter himself.
All four were fast at Indianapolis but the practice session saw issues for each. Newgarden has the most to lose, holding a 16-point edge over Rossi. Add that Newgarden’s race at Mid-Ohio ended in a sand trap which opened a huge window for the other three title contenders.
Consider that all 22 drivers will have the time and opportunity through six pit stops to make adjustments and improve their vehicles as well. The strategy and tire fall off should play a role on a race track that has bumps in all three turns and plenty of off-throttle time.
Drivers will have to carefully choose where and how to overtake since the cars are able to run closely. Timing and care for each other will be a major part of this event because the opportunities to overtake will be at a premium.
Stay tuned to Open-Wheels for continued coverage of this weekend’s ABC Supply 500!
Header image by Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR.