RECAP: ABC Supply 500
VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES
With rain clouds looming, one by one the field of 22 Verizon IndyCar Series drivers laid down their fastest times to set the grid for Sunday’s ABC Supply 500. Rookie driver Zach Veach, who led the morning practice session, set an early and fast speed to sit on the provisional pole that held through 10 competitor before falling to a seventh-place starting position – a tie for his best career starting position from Race 2 on the streets of Detroit.
Marco Andretti took the track next for the team cars, securing a speed fast enough for an 11th-place start at day’s end. The hometown-favorite racer has led 97 laps at Pocono Raceway, the most of any Andretti driver.
Teammates Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay posted speeds to lock in the second row in third and fourth, respectively. Sunday’s race marked the fifth time this season DHL driver Hunter-Reay has started within the front two rows, while Rossi’s third-place start made for the best start recorded at the “Tricky Triangle” for the 26 year old.
CHASING THE CHECKERS.
NAPA AUTO PARTS driver Alexander Rossi collected a second-consecutive victory Sunday, taking the twin checkers at Pocono Raceway 4.4982 seconds ahead of Team Penske’s Will Power. In the process, Rossi narrowed the championship points gap to leader Scott Dixon. Rossi rolled off from third and led a dominating 180 of 200 laps on his way to a fifth-career victory.
The 500-Mile race saw an extended red flag period after just six laps of competition for a multi-car incident that ended the day for 2015 race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay. The accident, which involved contact between the No. 28 and the No. 6 car of Robert Wickens resulted in damage to the catch fence which needed repaired before racing could resume. Hunter-Reay remains fifth in the points standings, but saw the points gap widen after being scored with an 18th-place finish. Hunter-Reay was checked, cleared and released from the Infield Care Center during the red flag period. Wickens was transported to the Lehigh Valley Cedar Crest Hospital in Allentown with orthopedic injuries and remains under evaluation.
Rookie driver Zach Veach was one of only a handful of drivers to test at Pocono Raceway in advance of the race weekend, and Veach’s hard work paid off for the team. With a sixth-place result for the Group 1001 crew, Veach earned his best career oval result and second best finish of the season.
Following the restart on Lap 12, the race ran under green-flag conditions to the finish, which put a damper on the strategy gamble of the U.S. Concrete team. Before settling into a seventh-place finish and 100th career top 10, Marco Andretti fought for a podium finish in front of a home crowd, but the early pit and leap-frog strategy didn’t play out for the 98 crew when yellow flags never came.
It’s tough to really celebrate after what happened. I really have to thank the team. I have amazing teammates. Zach [Veach] and Marco [Andretti] really helped me there in traffic so I owe them a beer, or a case of beer! I’ve just been leaning on Ryan and Michael [Andretti] and Bryan [Herta] ever since day one to help me overcome the challenge that is superspeedways. You can’t do any of this without an amazing team, so I am very thankful to be on Andretti Autosport and have this great group of people. It’s a special day today. We’re going to try and win a championship. We’re executing like we need to do on Sundays and we’ll do everything we can to keep that rolling. There’s no time to rest now as we’re in Gateway next weekend.”