By: Tanner Watkins
August 14, 2019 | 4:00 PM
With just four races remaining in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship, the stars and cars of American open-wheel racing will take aim at the historic Pocono Raceway this weekend for 500 grueling miles.
Serving as one of two 500-mile races on the IndyCar schedule, Pocono brings the speed, intensity and drama that is rivaled only by Indianapolis on the series’ calendar. Throw in the rising intrigue of this year’s championship as well as the pressure on drivers to perform before we hit the offseason, and you have one hell of a race weekend on your hands.
Josef Newgarden will lead the field of 22 drivers into Saturday’s opening practice session as the championship points leader. Out in front of challenger Alexander Rossi by 16 points, Newgarden has been the championship leader for every race but one in 2019.
Furthermore, the Team Penske driver leads teammate Simon Pagenaud by 43 points, and defending champion Scott Dixon by 62 points. With double points on the line in the season finale, there are still 10 drivers mathematically eligible to win the 2019 championship, but those are the core four contenders at this time.
While Pagenaud is surely excited to enter the home stretch of the season – and what he calls “crunch time” – the French driver had perhaps the best two-week break of any IndyCar driver on the circuit.
“During the break, INDYCAR and BorgWarner organized an amazing media tour in France,” said Pagenaud. “I had the honor of taking the Borg-Warner Trophy home to France to share my experience winning the Indy 500. In Paris, the interest from the media was just tremendous.
“We started the week with a visit to the French office of our partner DXC Technology, and it was wonderful to meet so many great people there. From there, we went to Poitiers and then Montmorillon, my hometown, where the city organized an incredible celebration full of people starring the Borg-Warner Trophy. I must say I was really impressed to see the excitement and interest around INDYCAR in France, and it’s great to be in this era of the sport.
“Now, we’re off to race at Pocono. I’m very excited to be back competing. I love this time of the year because ‘it’s crunch time’ so it’s time to go for it with four races remaining.”
For Rossi, the only result that will suffice at this stage of the season is winning. The Andretti Autosport driver enjoys racing at Pocono and knows that this is a critical weekend in the championship chase.
“I’m really excited to get back to Pocono. It’s one of my favorite tracks to go back to each year – and obviously, we had a good race there last year,” said Rossi. “We’re getting into a critical point of the championship and we need to win races.
“Pocono is a great place for us to hopefully do that. Being so close to where the Andretti family is from is great. The area has a lot of tradition for Indy car racing and we all look forward to coming back to each year. Hopefully, we can leave the weekend leading the championship.”
This weekend’s race will be shown live on television via NBCSN, with radio coverage from the always-fantastic IndyCar Radio Network. Check out the race’s Fast Facts below, provided by IndyCar.
ABC Supply 500 Fast Facts
Race weekend: Saturday, Aug. 17 – Sunday, Aug. 18
Track: Pocono Raceway, a 2.5-mile triangular oval in Long Pond, Pennsylvania
Race distance: 200 laps / 500 miles
Firestone tire allotment: Twelve sets for use throughout the weekend
Twitter: @PoconoRaceway @IndyCar, #ABCSupply500, #IndyCar
Event website: http://www.poconoraceway.com/
INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com
2018 race winner: Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda)
2018 NTT P1 Award winner: Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet), 1 minute, 22.0006 seconds, 219.511 mph (two laps)
One-lap qualifying record: Juan Pablo Montoya, 40.1929 seconds, 223.920 mph, July 5, 2014
Two-lap qualifying record: Juan Pablo Montoya, 1 minute, 20.4034 seconds, 223.871 mph, July 5, 2014
NBCSN television broadcasts: Qualifying, 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday, Aug. 17 (same-day delay); Race, 2 p.m. ET Sunday, Aug. 18 (live); Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for the NBCSN broadcasts this weekend alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Dillon Welch and Robin Miller.
Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Kyle Kaiser. Jake Query and Nick Yeoman are the turn announcers with Dave Furst, Ryan Myrehn and Michael Young reporting from the pits.
All NTT IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 98, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. Live coverage of NTT IndyCar Series qualifying is available on Sirius 218, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
NBC Sports Gold livestreaming: All NTT IndyCar Series practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports’ direct-to-consumer livestreaming product.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Saturday, August 17
9:30 – 10:30 a.m. – NTT IndyCar Series practice #1, NBC Sports Gold (live)
12:30 p.m. – Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (single car/cumulative time of two laps), NBC Sports Gold (live); NBCSN (2:30 p.m. ET)
4 – 5 p.m. – NTT IndyCar Series final practice, NBC Sports Gold (live)
Sunday, August 18
2:03 p.m. – Driver introductions
2:39 p.m. – Command to start engines
2:45 p.m. – ABC Supply 500 (200 laps/500 miles), NBCSN (live)
Header image by Christopher Owens/INDYCAR.