The Verizon IndyCar Series begins a busy stretch of four races in five weeks to end the season this weekend. After two weeks off, teams will head to Pocono Raceway.
Three weeks ago, Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio was dominated by Alexander Rossi. The Andretti Autosport driver led 66 of 90 laps from the pole en route to his second victory of 2018. In the process, the third-year driver climbed to second in points. With points leader Scott Dixon finishing fifth, his points lead shrunk from 62 to 44.
Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 will be the 26th time IndyCar heads to the 2.5-mile triangular-shaped track since its first race in1971. After a hiatus from 1990 to 2012, the series has raced at the track each year since 2013. In 2014, the race became a 500-mile event once again after a 400-mile race in 2013.
Last year’s race featured a record 42 lead changes. The 10 different leaders were just the second time the event had reached that mark (2015 had a record 11 leaders).
Team Penske’s Will Power led 34 laps and repeated his 2016 victory at Pocono. In doing so, he also became the first driver to score consecutive wins at Pocono.
He also joined A.J. Foyt, Rick Mears and Danny Sullivan as the only drivers to win multiple times at the track. Foyt holds the record with four Pocono wins.
After struggling on ovals early in his career, the Australian has taken a liking to them over the past few years. He has won three of the last four superspeedway races, including his first Indianapolis 500 win in May. In five career Pocono starts, Power has never started or finished outside the Top 10.
“We learned a few things at the Indianapolis tire test (on Aug. 6) and I’m really excited to apply those to the race at Pocono in the No. 12 Verizon Chevy,” Power said earlier this week.
“The last two times we’ve raced there, we’ve had a really strong performance, but with three very different turns, it’s always a challenge to race there. Everyone is hungry for wins at this point in the season. Being in the championship hunt, we need a really strong run there to keep running toward the championship and we’re ready to do just that.”
Speaking of the championship battle, that will certainly be on the front-running drivers’ minds throughout the remainder of the season. Dixon does hold a sizable cushion over Rossi, but Rossi’s win a few weeks has given him renewed optimism for the weekend. In last year’s event at Pocono, Rossi led 44 laps and finished third.
“We are coming off of a strong weekend at Mid-Ohio and feel that we’ve got a bit of our momentum back,” Rossi exclaimed.
“With that being said, every race is a critical situation for us in terms of needing big results. We welcome the challenge in Pocono this weekend – one of my absolute favorite tracks. I cannot wait to get back at it.”
The man he is chasing for the points lead, Scott Dixon, led the most laps in the 2017 race (51).
Heading into the weekend, the 2013 Pocono winner expressed optimism with the 2018 aero package and its potential for this weekend.
“I expect it to be pretty close to the style of racing we had last year. I was a big fan of the racing there and the really good cars stayed at the front and could work through traffic,” the four-time champion articulated.
“A few years ago, I think it was too close to pack racing and almost anyone could win, but they really have the package nailed down right now, which should make for an exciting race. Hopefully, the PNC Bank car will be there at the end when it counts.”
Also of note for this weekend is Conor Daly’s extended time with Harding Racing. The veteran racer also took over for Gabby Chaves at Toronto and Mid-Ohio. With the team still exploring all options regarding a potential second team for next year, Daly was again given an opportunity in the No. 88 car. In 2017, Daly started 17th and finished 14th at Pocono for A.J. Foyt Racing. Both results were his career-best at the track. This weekend will be his third appearence with Harding, and his third at Pocono.
“Having the chance to race at Pocono is really exciting for me,” said Daly.
“Because it means as a team we’ll have had a chance to race at a road course, street course and superspeedway together. It’ll be a new challenge for us to work through, and I can’t wait for it.”
ABC Supply 500 Fast Facts
Race weekend: Saturday, Aug. 18 – Sunday, Aug. 19
Track: Pocono Raceway, a 2.5-mile triangular oval in Long Pond, Pennsylvania
Race distance: 200 laps / 500 miles
Entry list: ABC Supply 500 (PDF)
Firestone tire allotment: Thirteen sets for use throughout the weekend
Twitter: @PoconoRaceway @IndyCar, #ABCSupply500, #IndyCar
Event website: http://www.poconoraceway.com/
INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com
2017 race winner: Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet)
2017 Verizon P1 Award winner: Takuma Sato (No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda), 1 minute, 21.9526 seconds, 219.639 mph (two laps)
One-lap qualifying record: Juan Pablo Montoya, 40.1929 seconds, 223.920 mph, July 5, 2014Two-lap qualifying record: Juan Pablo Montoya, 1 minute, 20.4034 seconds, 223.871 mph, July 5, 2014
NBCSN television broadcasts: Qualifying, 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday, Aug. 18 (live); Race, 1:30 p.m. ET Sunday, Aug. 19 (live); Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for the NBCSN broadcasts this weekend alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Jon Beekhuis, Katie Hargitt, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller.
Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Anders Krohn. Jake Query and Nick Yeoman are the turn announcers with Dave Furst, Ryan Myrehn and Michael Young reporting from the pits.
The Verizon IndyCar Series race is broadcast live on network affiliates, Sirius 98, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
The Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying session is broadcast live on Sirius 216, XM 209, IndyCar.com,indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app. All Verizon IndyCar Series practice are available onIndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
Video streaming: Both ABC Supply 500 practice sessions will stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.comand on the INDYCAR YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/indycar).
At-track schedule (all times local):
Saturday, Aug. 18
10:30 – 11:30 a.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)
1:30 p.m. – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (single car/cumulative time of two laps), NBCSN (live)
4:45 – 5:45 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series final practice, RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)
Sunday, Aug. 19
1:29 p.m. – Driver introductions
2:05 p.m. – Command to start engines
2:10 p.m. – ABC Supply 500 (200 laps/500 miles), NBCSN (live)
Fast Facts by INDYCAR
Header Image by Chris Owens/INDYCAR