Power ends winless streak at Pocono, race marred again by early wreck

by Jordan Groves

Will Power has taken victory in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway after the race was called to an end due to lightning and rain. Power took the lead just after the halfway point of the scheduled two-hundred lap race distance, with the race being red flagged on lap-128 after lightning entered the area.

For the second year in a row at Pocono Raceway, the event was marred by a scary accident on the track at the beginning of the race. A collision between Takuma Sato, Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay heading into turn two put Felix Rosenqvist into the catch fencing and also collected James Hinchcliffe. The incident has led to more calls from drivers and fans to bring IndyCar racing at Pocono Raceway to an end.

After qualifying was cancelled due to rain yesterday, championship-leader Josef Newgarden led the field to the green flag at the start of the race. However, it was his team-mate Simon Pagenaud that had a head full of steam in the long run down into turn one. The Frenchman, who started third, used the slipstream of his team-mate to take the lead into turn one, with the third Team Penske car of Power moving up from fifth on the grid to slot into third-place behind Newgarden.

Alexander Rossi had started the race from the front row due to the field being set by the championship order. The Andretti Autosport driver had a slow start and quickly lost out to the three Penske drivers. He would lose another position to Scott Dixon on the exit of turn one and would then be a sitting duck to his team-mate Ryan Hunter-Reay and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing‘s Takuma Sato, who were both baring down on him on the run into the high-speed tunnel turn of turn two.

As the trio approached the corner, Hunter-Reay went to the inside of Rossi, whilst Sato went to the outside. Whilst Sato was running side-by-side with Rossi, he appeared to move down on Alexander before he had cleared him. This saw Sato’s car spin across the nose of Rossi’s car and into the side of Hunter-Reay, with Takuma and Ryan being sent into the inside wall before being sent hurtling back onto the track at turn two.

The out of control cars of Hunter-Reay, Sato and Rossi were all now in the path of the approaching pack, with the Chip Ganassi Racing car of Felix Rosenqvist being clipped by Sato’s car and then sent airborne into the outside fencing. Arrow Schmidt Peterson‘s James Hinchcliffe would also get involved in the melee after spinning whilst braking to try and avoid the crash.

Once the dust settled, Rosenqvist’s car had come to rest on the exit of the corner having, thankfully, not been sent on as wild of a ride as seen in the similar incident for Robert Wickens twelve months ago. Rosenqvist was sent to the hospital for further medical checks and was thankfully cleared and released later in the day. The other four drivers were all able to walk away from the incident totally unscathed, including Sato who’s car had come to rest upside down and on top of Hunter-Reay’s car.

Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

A red flag period would follow as repairs were made to the catch fencing at turn two, but it was not too long of a wait before the remaining cars were back racing once again. At the restart, Pagenaud got off to a flier whilst his second-placed team-mate, Newgarden was caught napping. Scott Dixon, who moved up into third after Power was forced to pit for a suspected puncture, drove around the outside of Josef at the final turn to take over second place.

Pagenaud held on to lead the way for the remaining laps until the first pit-stop sequence of the race. He would continue to lead after making his first stop, with his closest rival, Scott Dixon, finding himself being overtaken by the rookie, Santino Ferrucci. The American, who started thirteenth, pinned his car the outside during the opening lap melee to move up into the top five and found himself running with the leaders for the vast majority of the race.

Meanwhile, after his early stop for a puncture pushed him down the order, Will Power was making ground on his run back towards the front. He briefly took the lead of the race after choosing to stay out longer than the leaders. He had been set to emerge from his first pit-stop in the lower reaches of the top ten, but a well-timed caution as he entered pit-road saw him emerge from his stop right on the coat-tails of his race-leading team-mate, Simon Pagenaud.

Power and Pagenaud would duel for the race lead on the ensuing restart, with Pagenaud eventually winning the battle to remain out front and begin to build a lead once again. For the second stage of green flag pit-stops, Scott Dixon and Santino Ferrucci would once again pit earlier than the Penske’s, with both hoping to use the undercut to take the lead. Their causes were helped when Pagenaud and Power were held up by traffic, with Pagenaud emerging from his pit-stop behind Dixon who had taken over the provisional race lead. Ferrucci had also passed the Frenchman to take over second-place.

Power’s pit-stop timing would take a turn for the worse when he was caught out by another caution, this time for the crashed car of Colton Herta. This saw Power forced to pit during the yellow flag and, as a result, fall further back into the top ten.

The race would be restarted one again on lap eighty-three, with Scott Dixon leaving behind Ferrucci and Pagenaud after a great jump on the field. At around the same time, the teams started to be aware of a weather front that was approaching the speedway at a vast rate of knots, with the approaching rain and/or lightning having the potential to end the race prematurely.

Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

With the end of the race potentially not too far away, Penske informed Will Power that he needed to gain ground quickly if he wanted to have any chance of winning the race. Power was done holding back and he soon began to click off impressive lap-times. The leaders would go through one final stage of green flag pit-stops surely after the halfway point of the race at lap-100, with Power staying out on the track longer once again due to being slightly off-sequence from the leaders.

Power emerged from his final pit-stop and found himself in second place and right on the back of the race leader, Scott Dixon. The New Zealander looked to be suddenly at odds with the behaviour of his #9 Ganassi Honda after some adjustments during the pit-stop. This allowed Power to breeze past the reigning champion to take the lead on lap 115 and quickly build-up a gap of almost five seconds in just five laps.

Power’s sudden impressive pounce to take the lead of the race came at the perfect time. Just over ten laps after taking over the race lead, lightning would strike within seven miles of the circuit and, as per regulations, would force the race into a red flag period whilst teams, drivers and fans sought shelter.

With the lightning just ahead of a huge cell of rain, and with the race having gone past the halfway point, the officials would decide after a brief delay that the race would be ended prematurely due to the conditions. This, therefore, gave Will Power his first win of the 2019 season, ending his winless streak that was fast-approaching a full year in length.

The win would be Power’s first since winning at Gateway Motorsports Park last August and would end what was potentially looking to be Will’s first season in IndyCar without a win since 2006. It is fair to say that 2019 has been Power’s most difficult season yet, with the 2014 champion having endured a number of poor results through mechanical failures and mistakes of his own. He is not, realistically, in contention for the crown this season, but this return to the top step of the podium will give both him and his #12 crew a much needed shot in the arm heading into the final three races of the year and into the off-season.

Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

Scott Dixon would have to settle for second place after losing pace in the last few laps of the race. He was able to hold off the pole-sitter, Simon Pagenaud, who would take the final spot on the podium in third place. The Frenchman was left frustrated after having lost the lead to Dixon earlier in the race, as Simon’s #22 Penske was much better suited to running in clear air.

Fourth place would go to arguably the driver of the race. Dale Coyne Racing’s rookie, Santino Ferrucci, would equal his best finish in IndyCar to date after battling with the leaders for pretty much the entire duration of the race’s green flag running. The result, coupled with Rosenqvist’s unfortunate retirement on lap one, means that Santino is now right on the coat-tails of Felix in the rookie of the year standings with just three races remaining.

The top five would be completed by the championship leader and pole-sitter, Josef Newgarden. Josef never really looked to have the speed to contend for the race win, but with his closest championship rival, Alexander Rossi, being involved in the lap one wreck, Newgarden has now extended his championship lead from sixteen points to thirty-five points; a decent day at the office despite seemingly lacking pace compared to the race leaders.

Ed Carpenter would benefit from the opening lap melee to move into the top ten in the early stages of the race. His pace in the #20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet looked pretty decent too and allowed him to take the chequered flag in sixth place, just ahead of seventh-placed Sebastien Bourdais. After showing good pace in practice yesterday, A.J. Foyt Enterprises Tony Kanaan jumped from his nineteenth-place grid position to finish in eighth, with Graham Rahal just behind him in ninth place.

The top ten would be completed by the returning Charlie Kimball. The American was back behind the wheel of the #23 Carlin Chevrolet for the first time since the Indianapolis 500 but showed no signs of rust, moving from the back of the field to fifteenth place on the run down into turn one on lap one alone. He will hope for a similarly impressive performance next weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park. His team-mate, Conor Daly, finished just behind him in eleventh place, with Arrow SPM’s Marcus Ericsson taking twelfth place to finish as the final driver on the lead lap having run as high as fifth during the race.

Further back, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe’s crews all got their cars repaired and, briefly, back on the race-track after being involved in the lap one pile-up. Rossi and Hinchcliffe would be forced to serve a ten lap penalty for work carried out during the red flag period. Rossi would end the day classified in eighteenth place; a bad result but not nearly as bad as it could have been, championship-wise, after his lap one crash.

The 2019 NTT IndyCar Series will return for the final oval race of the season, the 2019 Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway, next weekend on Saturday, August 24.

Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

2019 NTT IndyCar Series – ABC Supply 500 – Race results:

POSNO.DRIVERNATTEAMGAP (seconds)
112Will PowerAUSTeam PenskeLeader
29Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing+5.469
322Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske+7.095
419Santino Ferrucci (R)USADale Coyne Racing+9.470
52Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske+10.177
620Ed CarpenterUSAEd Carpenter Racing+15.424
718Sebastien BourdaisFRADale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan+19.164
814Tony KanaanBRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises+23.394
915Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+25.206
1023Charlie KimballUSACarlin+27.436
1159Conor DalyUSACarlin+29.284
127Marcus Ericsson (R)SWEArrow Schmidt Peterson+32.605
1326Zach VeachUSAAndretti Autosport+1 Lap
144Matheus LeistBRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises+1 Lap
1598Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Herta+2 Laps
1688Colton Herta (R)USAHarding Steinbrenner RacingDNF
1721Spencer PigotUSAEd Carpenter RacingDNF
1827Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport+89 Laps
1928Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti AutosportDNF
205James HinchcliffeCANArrow Schmidt PetersonDNF
2130Takuma SatoJAPRahal Letterman Lanigan RacingDNF
2210Felix Rosenqvist (R)SWEChip Ganassi RacingDNF

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