Monday, July 22, 2013

Sean Rayhall doubles-down on double podiums at CTMP in Canada

Driving coach and current 2013 Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda season championship points leader, Comprent Motorsports' Sean Rayhall (L) pours the Champagne of podium victory over 8Star Motorsports driver, Christian Potolicchio (R). Image Credit: 8Star Motorsports via Facebook

Sean Rayhall doubles-down on double podiums at CTMP in Canada

This last weekend saw the IMSA development series Rounds 7 & 8 in the 14 Round 2013 Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda season play out. As the round numbers suggest, the season passed by the halfway point with the races run at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (formally Mosport), around 60 miles drive East of Toronto and the Toronto Pearson International Airport.

As mentioned in the pre-weekend "Sean Rayhall poised to move at The Mobil1 SportsCar Grand Prix" article, season points leader (by only one point) Sean Rayhall was poised to repeat the feat that launched him into the points lead with a double win weekend like he had at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. This is exactly what transpired, and more, much more.

Round 7, also referred to as Race 1 of the The Mobil1 SportsCar Grand Prix two race weekend, had Rayhall start the race at the pole position, but very early into the race, he was passed by the driver who was sitting third in the season points, Performance Tech #18 Ryan Booth.  

"Booth got by me on the start, through a tight run side by side through one, where I had to settle in and save my tires for the right time," said Rayhall in a post The Mobil1 SportsCar Grand Prix weekend interview.

There Sean Rayhall sat with the gap times remaining fairly consistent between .246 sec. to .471 over the course of around 9 laps. On Lap 10 Rayhall saw his opportunity and took it.

"I made the pass after catching a draft down the back straight into turn 8, where I held the line when Booth made contact with my right rear causing him to spin, while I had a huge correction before driving away," recounted the Robert Talbott Inc. #14 Comprent driver.

Booth re-entered the track in P9 after the spin. Rayhall then put on a clinic of consistency while drivers behind him kept loosing time. Eventually, Rayhall had pulled out a lead of as much as 20.020 seconds on #6 Daniel Goldburg, Booth's Performance Tech team-mate, by Lap 14. By Lap 17, Booth had moved his #18 Performance Tech car up to P7.

Lap 17 saw a YELLOW Flag at around 24 minutes into a 30 minute session. Goldburg was able to make up some of the time he had lost to being behind by 16.750 sec.. This, of course, reset the field for a battle to the end when the GREEN Flag would again fly.

The restart on Lap 19, at 27:40, left only a few short laps for the field to reign in Sean Rayhall. Booth moved up to P5 at the beginning of Lap 20 with Goldburg sitting 2.874 sec. and Booth 5.311 sec. behind. The race finished on Lap 22 with Ryan Booth moving up from 5th to 3rd - Goldburg 3.074 - Booth at 6.038 giving Performance Tech a double podium.

During the race Sean Rayhall set a new track record for Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda - 1:14.994.

Sean Rayhall driving the Robert Talbott Motorsports Comprent Motorsports prepared Mazda past the Start/Finish flag stand and into Turn 1 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park during The Mobil1 SportsCar Grand Prix weekend. Image Credit: Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda

Enter Round 8, also referred to as Race 2 of the The Mobil1 SportsCar Grand Prix two race weekend. Sean Rayhall, once again, started on the pole position and Ryan Booth, once again, passed Rayhall for the lead in the race. This was beginning to look like a conspiracy of circumstance with a two race weekend having both races begin the same way with the pole position starting driver loosing the lead on the first lap.

Q - Was the pass kind of like in Round 7 where there might have been a touch and Booth looses control and has to pit?

"No just a great run out of turn 5b after Booth got loose, and a solid draft to finish it."

Later in the race, Booth, while about 2 laps behind due to some extended pitstop work for mechanical issues, set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 11 at 1:14.931 which would have set a new mark for this Canadian dedicated road course. On Lap 29, however, Sean Rayhall reset the mark at 1:14.920 putting a final cap on a dominate performance. Rayhall was able to keep the race at bay once he re-assumed the lead and finished the race on Lap 31 9.206 sec. ahead of Performance Tech's #6 Daniel Goldburg and 9.634 sec. on P3 8Star Motorsports' Christian Potolicchio.

Q - Great race ... and the team that you are working with, 8Star, made the podium. Christian Potolicchio remained very close to Daniel Goldburg once Brownson was out of the way ... I thought he might have had a chance at getting by the #6 but a P3 is very good - is this his best result?

"Christian did a fine job, I am absolutely stoked to be a part of 8Star Motorsports, and also very excited that Christian had his best finish in Prototype Lites yet! He was very close to Goldburg and we will continue to make him and the 8Star Motorsports team as a whole, better each race!"

Q - What were the keys to being able to sweep the Mobil1 Sportscar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and take a giant step toward securing the points championship?

"The key was behind setup and maintaining a smooth line for the first half of each race. Being smooth and conserving the tires of our really fast Robert Talbott Motorsports Mazda so we could make huge gains mid-way through each race!"

Q - Double podium in Round 8 with you at P1 and 8Star Motorsports driver Christian Potolicchio at P3. Could you give me a sentence or two about the nature of your efforts and new relationship with 8Star Motorsports and, specifically, Christian Potolicchio?

"I am now Christian's driver coach and am working with 8Star Motorsports to develop him for the remainder of the season as of right now. Perhaps you will see us co-driving together at some point?

"But [what] an amazing feeling to come away with two wins and to have Christian on the podium with me, knowing how hard we worked to get him there tasted nearly as sweet as victory!"

The Mobil1 SportsCar Grand Prix held at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park Round 8 of the 2013 Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda season podium. From R to L - P2 Performance Tech's Daniel Goldburg, P1 Comprent Motorsports' Sean Rayhall, and P3 8Star Motorsports' Christian Potolicchio. Image Credit: 8Star Motorsports via Facebook

While there were many double podiums for The Mobil1 SportsCar Grand Prix's 2013 Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda held at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park - Daniel Goldburg's Round 7 & 8 P2s, Performance Tech's Round 7 P2 and P3 posting of Ryan Booth and Daniel Goldburg respectively, none were as dramatic and decisive as Sean Rayhall's two double podiums for first - Round 7 & 8 P1s but also due to his coaching relationship with 8Star Motorsports, second - the Round 8 P1 and P3 performance of Sean Rahall himself, and the driver he is coaching, Christian Potolicchio.

Next stop is another two race weekend featuring Rounds 9 & 10 at the 2013 Road Race Showcase, Road America // Elkhart Lake, WI - August 9th through 11th, 2013.

Maybe an opportunity for a quadruple double podium ... dya' think?

... notes from The EDJE

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sean Rayhall poised to move at The Mobil1 SportsCar Grand Prix

Comprent Motorsports Robert Talbott Inc sponsored #14 Elan DP-02 currently lead the points and this feat was produced by scoring points in only five of the six races run to date. Image Credit: Sean Rayhall via Instagram

Sean Rayhall poised to make a championship move at The Mobil1 SportsCar Grand Prix

It is always like this when one is interested in following events in motor culture. It seems that there is never anything going on ... and then, BAM! Great racing starts popping out all over the place.

Take living in Toronto, Canada, for example - Last weekend they held the first ever two (2) race weekend of the IZOD IndyCar Series (IICS) at the Exhibition Place temporary street course track. The IICS is experiencing one of the most competitive and tight championship points fights with 1/3rd of a season still left on the schedule once the weekend of double-points and big moves was over. The crowds were larger than in recent years of the two decades old annual IICS event.

The very next weekend has the sports car world visit Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (formally Mosport) with the last race of the American Le Mans Series due to the merger with the Grand-Am series to compete as United SportsCar Racing (USCR) in 2014. The Mobil1 SportsCar Grand Prix for ALMS cars is to be held on Sunday July 21, 2013 at 12-2:45 p.m. ET with live television broadcast carried by ESPN2 beginning at 1:00pm ET.

The other set of races that surround the racing action is to be supplied by The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel cars, the Mazda Playboy MX-5 Cup, and the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda - both feature a two-race weekend. The last time the Mazda Playboy MX-5 Cup, and the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda series were together was a weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Diamond Cellar Classic June 14-16, 2013.

The Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda will contesting Rounds 7 and 8 in a 14 Round season. Sean Rayhall and Comprent Motorsports Robert Talbott Inc sponsored #14 Elan DP-02 currently lead the points and this feat was produced by scoring points in only five of the six races run to date. Rayhall would be the first to say that this has been a great team effort.

Sean Rayhall appears to be poised to repeat the feat that launched him into the points lead with a double win weekend like he had at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. All three practice sessions had Sean in the lead, or barely #2 by 9/100s of a second.

8Star Motorsports #2 driven by Christian Potolicchio takes the Qualifications for Rounds 7 & 8 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park for the The Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix. Image Credit: John Dagys via 8Star Facebook

Before qualifications for the weekend's Rounds, Sean Rayhall had these responses to the following questions.

1- Is this your first time at this track? If so, What is you favorite impression of the track (corners, difficulties, and etc.)?

Yes it is my first time at the track and I absolutely love the high speed corners as well as it really being a drivers track!

2- With two races over the next couple of days, what do you see are the critical sections of the track and what do you intend to be on the look-out for?

Critical sections rely on the high speed areas and having enough aero without hurting the straight line speed before the back straight!

3- Pre-Race - What are the team's thoughts on the upcoming weekend's races (Rounds #5 & #6)? Is your team back to full strength?

Team thoughts are to have a smooth consistent weekend, and come away with good points for the championship, but we always are in it to win it! - Yes.

4- Additional thoughts on being at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and rubbing elbows with the folks in the other series racing this weekend.

Additional thoughts are I am also coaching for 8Star Motorsports Lites programs for the remaining of the season so working side by side with LeMans winner Enzo Potolicchio is an absolute pleasure!

After qualifications for Rounds 7 and 8, the Comprent #14 driven by Sean Rayhall outpaced the competition in similarly prepared Elan DP-02s.

Results communicated through a Facebook entry in the following manner:

Sean Rayhall - P1 - Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda Qualifying - 1:14.238 | 119.244mph - @CTMPOfficial @IMSALites ‪#‎CTMP‬ ‪#‎Mobil1SCGP‬

The #14 was 1.035 clear of Ryan Booth's Performance Tech #18 and faster by 1.64mph!!! Whoa, the Comprent guys really had the Elan hooked up.

Excellent set-up for the Mobil1SCGP race weekend.

@IMSALites top three from qual: 1. Sean Rayhall 2. Ryan Booth 3. Daniel Goldburg. Race 1 at 5:10 pm ET @CTMPOfficial #Mobil1SCGP
— at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

The Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Powered by Mazda Series has the GREEN Flag dropping in Race One at 5:10 p.m. ET Saturday. Race Two is set for Sunday, July 21 at 8:10 a.m. ET -   wake up early!!

If one is following the action, either at the track or on internet services ... it's like, don't blink, you'll miss something.

... notes from The EDJE

Monday, July 15, 2013

Honda Indy Toronto's tale of two races with one result

TCGR's three-time IndyCar Champion wins race #32 in his career to mark a strong three race charge to challenge for the 2013 Championship. Image Credit: Honda Indy Toronto (2013)

Honda Indy Toronto's Tale Of Two Races With One Result

With a strong potential of a major points swing in the offing, the thrill of a first-time Standing-Start in IndyCar (ChampCar used them), Push-To-Pass (P2P), two tire compound (Reds/Blacks) strategy, and the 24 year history of exciting temporary street races as a backdrop, the double-header weekend of the 2013 Honda Indy Toronto did not disappoint.

Okay, so the first race of the weekend really was disappointing to not have the Standing-Start as advertised. Josef Newgarden's car failed on the grid sequence which created a 'called' ABORT of the Standing-Start. The cars were rolled off and the formation lap counted as a race lap with the Rolling-Start GREEN Flag which began Lap 2. It was ruled that the Standing-Start would replace the planned Rolling-Start for Race 2 for the second race on Sunday.

Honda Indy Toronto's Race 1, itself, was one of the most entertaining and competitive temporary street course races this season, and what seems to be happening more often than not, the driver to lead the most laps did not win. Marco Andretti comes to mind.

Dragon Racing's Sebastien Bourdais, four-time ChampCar Champion, qualified in P2, right next to four-time IRL/IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti for Honda Indy Toronto Race 1. SeaBass eventually ended up on the podium at P2 next to the two Target Chip Ganassi drivers Scott Dixon in P1 and Dario Franchitti in a confusing P3. Image Credit: More Front Wing via Twitter

In Race 1, Will Power was able to take over control of the race after Power took the lead from Sebastian Bourdais on Lap 32 shortly after the first cycle of green flag stops ended. Bourdais had managed to keep his advantage through the cycle, but was unable to stop Power from pulling off a tail-twitching inside pass in Turn 1 on the 1.75-mile Exhibition Place street circuit.

A full-course yellow on Lap 35 for contact between Tristan Vautier and Graham Rahal erased a two-second edge for Power, but he was able to hold off Bourdais on the next restart at Lap 40. Will Power went on to lead the most laps in the race when he was able to keep the lead until Lap 60 when he gave it up during Green Flag pit-stops to Sebastien Bourdais.

Soon after the Lap 40 restart, Scott Dixon was able to pass Bourdais in Turn 3, moving to P2 on the course. Through the same round of pit-stops where Power gave up the lead, to Dragon Racing's Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon came in last, extending his fuel run ... and filed in behind Bourdais and ahead of both teammate Dario Franchitti and Will Power. With Bourdais on the softer Reds, and Dixon on the Blacks standard compound tires, the showdown of tire wear and P2P began. Bourdais had no P2P left and Dixon had about 3 or 4 pushes left. After a couple of set-up attempts, on Lap 78 using one of the two remaining P2Ps while Bourdais was powerless on used-up Firestone Reds and without a Push-To-Pass to use in defense of the Target Chip Ganassi Honda. Dixon overtook race leader and held off the four-time ChampCar champion on a Lap 84 single-file restart to earn his 31st victory to tie Bourdais, Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy for seventh on the all-time Indy car list.

"These doubleheaders are tough; we got through Race 1. Just a crazy day," said Dixon, who earned the Verizon P1 Award with the fastest lap in qualifications for Race 2 earlier in the day. "This is what we need to get the momentum going."

As far as the Championship race within a race - In Race 1, Helio Castroneves extended his championship lead from 23 points to 41 with a fifth-place finish in the 12th event of the season, combined with Ryan Hunter-Reay's 18th-place result. Hunter-Reay encountered a myriad of problems, including stalling the No. 1 DHL Chevrolet twice leaving his pit stall and making contact with the Turn 3 tire barrier on Lap 79.

Honda Indy Toronto's Race 2 saw a ruled 'do-over' of the Standing-Start with the caveat that if the first attempt did not take for any reason, there would be at least one additional attempt. This ruling was not the only change in the interpretation of the rules by substitute, and former, Race Control head, Brian Barnhart. In Race 1, Barnhart first assessed a late race penalty on Dario Franchitti for blocking on Will Power as Power attempted a pass causing Power to tap the inside wall and miss Turn 3. This post-race penalty ruling was then later rescinded and everyone then knew that Race Control was not being headed by the current IICS Race Control captain, Beaux Barfield (who was unable to attend the Honda Indy Toronto weekend for personal reasons).

Also, the Standing-Start came off without a hitch, in that every car got rolling but Dario Franchitti suffered front wing damage and came in at the end of the first lap, took off his minimum two lap Firestone Red alternative tires, and put on the standard Blacks which he used for the balance of the 85 Lap race. Barnhart was an influence to the end of this race as well. He ruled that due to the fact that this was a two-race weekend, and that Red alternative tires were in short supply, Dario Franchitti would not be penalized for using Reds for only one lap as opposed to the mandatory two lap minimum as stated in the rule book. Most are having trouble with this typical Brian Barnhart autocratically-interpretable Race Control attitude. Question: Why does this Race Control captain always seem to make the race become more about Race Control decisions than the race itself?

Back to Race 2 which ran without any full course cautions for 64 of 85 laps. This has to be a Green Flag running record for the tight and treacherous 1.7-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit. In 24 years, the Honda Indy Toronto has never seen a race without at least one Yellow Flag full course caution.

Scott Dixon went on to win a most convincing race and many would consider, save the Standing-Start, was just a continuation of the race ran the day before. The Target Chip Ganassi driver put on a clinic of driver and car domination in Race 2 that had him leading every lap except for Lap 24 and 25 when Helio Castroneves stayed out during the first set of Green Flag pit-stops. All other pit-stops, Scott Dixon kept the lead due to his lead on the track - that's domination.

A second Yellow Flag full course caution was called when Ed Carpenter lost it in Turn 5 and slammed the wall on Lap 77, this had another restart incident happen on Lap 83 where the driver who was the pre-race P2 in the Championship points, Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay try to make a three-wide pass on the outside of Turn 1. As the middle car, which squeezed down on the inside corner car of Will Power, cleared, Power applied the pedal and his rear end twitched, tapping RHR's car and this sent the Yellow DHL DW12 into the wall to finish the race in P19.

As far as the Championship race within a race - Helio Castroneves was able to finish Honda Indy Toronto's Race 2 on the podium in P2. Scott Dixon ended up by winning three races in a row with his win at Pocono, moving him up three positions in the Championship points to P4, the win in the Honda Indy Toronto Race 1 moving him to P3 ahead of Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti, and this last win in Honda Indy Toronto Race 2 moving him to P2 ahead of Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay.

In a post race interview, Dixon was informed that he had also won the $100,000 SONAX Perfect Finish Award for winning both races of the Honda Indy Toronto. Dixon Quote - "$100 Grand is good but I'd rather have the points. Points ... is why were here." 

Before the weekend, Helio had a 23 point margin between him and all other drivers. Helio Castroneves now leads all drivers by 29 points for a net gain of 6 points - not a huge shift. The biggest shift in the standings has to be the movement up the championship points ladder of Target Chip Ganassi's three-time IndyCar Champion, Scott Dixon who moves 5 point's positions in just three races.

The biggest loser for the Honda Indy Toronto double-header weekend was Andretti Autosport who have had chances to lock up the championship points race due to their qualification's performance in recent race weekends, but have not been able to convert their most laps led or front-row owning qualification performance by their drivers to Championship points.

More Front Wing's Stephanie Wallcraft caught up with Andretti Autosport's James Hinchcliffe and he let her know in no uncertain terms that he is not a fan of double-header weekends. Said Hinch:

“I don’t think anybody likes them. Scott Dixon gets 100 points. How come we don’t have two races at Iowa (where Hinchcliffe not only won but dominated in much the same way the Target Chip Ganassi driver did in Toronto this weekend)? That would have been awesome for us.

“You have to have double-headers at all of them or none of them. I’ve said that since they announced these things. It’s not a fair way to do it. We as a team didn’t have particularly strong cars here, and we get penalized twice as much. And we’re going to go to Houston, and somebody’s going to nail it and have a really good day. It’s unfortunate that that’s how it works.

” Nobody in the series will ever warm up to these. They’re too hard on the drivers, they’re too hard on the teams. You get so little practice, it’s so tough to get the car set up right.”

After 13 of 19 races in the 2013 season, it looks as though this season will end as many of the last several season's have ended (not 2012) with a shootout between a Penske Racing and a Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver for the season's driving Championship.

Two races in one road/street course weekend seems like the IZOD IndyCar Series might be stretching the performance rubber-band a little too far. This weekend, while being a crowd-pleasing event for those in Toronto, sucked all of the attention off of the supporting World Challenge and Road to Indy races.

In the end, the two days of races paid double points to Scott Dixon for what translated to be a single tour de force 170 lap race through the streets of Toronto.

... notes from The EDJE

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Honda and Ganassi sweep the Podium at the Pocono Indy 400

Target Chip Ganassi finally breaks through with a win in 2013 at the modern inaugural (after 24 years) of the Pocono Indy 400 Fueled by Sunoco. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Honda and Ganassi sweep the Podium at the Pocono Indy 400

Who would have thunk it ... after Chevy-powered DW12s practiced and qualified in the major positions in the top 10 all 4th of July weekend long, and with Andretti Autosport starting with the first three places of the front row filled with their drivers, Chip Ganassi Racing stacks the podium after 160 laps in the Pocono Indy 400 Fueled by Sunoco race at Pocono Raceway.

Honda not only filled the podium, their cars took six of the top ten positions as compared to qualifications where only three Honda-powered cars qualified in the top ten (P7, P8, and P9) to start the race.

Chip Ganassi could not be more pleased after changing engines in Scott Dixon's and Dario Franchitti's TCGR DW12s and having these drivers start the race at P17 and P20 respectively after penalties.

Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda-powered driver Josef Newgarden (Hartman Oil) finishes the Pocono Indy 400 Fueled by Sunoco race at Pocono Raceway in P5. His best finish in IndyCar. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2013)

Josef Newgarden made it four Honda's in the top five and as he stated in a post race interview, "This (Pocono) is an IndyCar track. I don't know why we haven't raced here until now."

That may be just the reaction to almost anyone who watched the race play out from this oddly shaped super-speedway that, in speeds, rivals any on the schedule.

Fuel mileage and pitstop management was the key to Honda teams doing so well ... that, and keeping out of racing trouble on the track.

The race eliminate one Chevy-powered threat after another starting with a spin on Turn 1 at the drop of the GREEN Flag when P3 James Hinchcliffe jostled his Go Daddy car into the wall. Leaving many to use the following hashtag on Twitter - #WhatTurn1.

Later in the race, the #14 of Takuma Sato came into the pits HOT and side-swiped P2 Ryan Hunter-Reay and before the race was a little over 50 laps old, Andretti Autosport had two of the team's top three qualifying cars out of the race. Best Tweet: "@nascarcasm Sato Pearl Harbored RHR #IndyCar #WhatTurn4 #pocono."

The next largest Chevy-powered story was held by KV Racing Technology's Tony Kanaan and his pursuit of the Fuzzy's Vodka Triple Crown. On Lap 67, TK took the lead of the race giving hope that he might just have what it took to maybe win the second of the three races and win the $1,000,000 dollar prize at the end of the year. He had already banked the INDY 500 win, all he needed to do was pocket Pocono and then take the final race of the season at Fontana to take the super-speedway triple crown challenge put up by Ed Carpenter's team sponsor - Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka.

Tony tripped himself up when he didn't leave himself enough room when passing what turned out to be the eventual winner, Scott Dixon, and clipped his front wing on Dixon's left rear tire. Best Tweets - @estradawriting - And TK clips his front wing in the process of passing Dixon! How did that not break? #IndyCar #WhatTurn4 --- @mike_kuhns - Tony Kanaan kisses $1 million goodbye. Front wing damaged. Unplanned pit. #Indycar @PoconoRecord#pocono

James Hinchcliffe's car on the hook, the victim of a twitch and a spin on the first turn of the first lap. Image Credit: E.M.H via Twitter

Top 10 position progression throughout the race from Lap 125 forward via Tweets on Twitter:

Lap 125 of 160 - Power, Dixie, Marco, Simon, Kimball, Helio, Carpenter, Dario, Newgarden, and Justin R Top 10 #IndyCar #WhatTurn4 #pocono

34 to go and Marco is in the pits on a fuel strategy #IndyCar #WhatTurn4 #pocono

Dixon in with 29 to go!  #IndyCar #WhatTurn4 #pocono

Ganassi 1-2-3. #IndyCar #WhatTurn4 #pocono and Honda with Pagenaud are in the Top 4

Lap 140 of 160 - Dixie, Kimball, Dario, Simon, Power, Marco, Josef, Helio, Justin, and Carpenter R Top 10 #IndyCar #WhatTurn4 #pocono

Gaaaa! Ganassi gloating on my TeeVee. Mute depolyed! #IndyCar #WhatTurn4 #pocono

#indycar Viso is back in the race after a few laps in the garage!!! By.AG

Closing in on the final 10 laps of the Pocono #IndyCar 400 @poconoraceway - who's going to haul the mail home here?

Marco will at least get bonus points for pole and laps led, but this one will sting. #IndyCar #WhatTurn4 #pocono

Lap 150 of 160 - Dixie, Kimball, Dario, Simon, Power, Josef, Helio,  Carpenter, Marco, and Justin R Top 10 #IndyCar #WhatTurn4 #pocono

5 to go. #IndyCar

Convinced its written in the stars that Helio wins this championship #WhatTurn4 #IndyCar #pocono

Power passes Pagenaud for P4 #IndyCar #WhatTurn4 #pocono

Checkered Flag - Dixie, Kimball, Dario, Power, Josef, Pagenaud, Wilson, Helio, Carpenter, and Marco, R Top 10 #IndyCar #WhatTurn4 #pocono

This marked only the third time in the modern open-wheel era a team had swept the podium with its drivers - Andretti Green at St. Pete in 2005, Penske Racing at Sonoma in 2011, and now at Pocono's modern day inaugural with Chip Ganassi.

Honda-powered cars were all three podium Chip Ganassi Racing cars of Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), Charlie Kimball (Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing), and Dario Franchitti (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) - The Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda of Josef Newgarden (Hartman Oil) with his best finish in IndyCar - The Schmidt Hamilton HP Motorsports Honda of Simon Pagenaud the weekend after tackling Pikes Peak for Honda - and the Dale Coyne Racing Honda of Justin Wilson (Boy Scouts of America).

As far as the business end of the event is concerned, the Pocono IndyCar 400 Fueled by Sunoco seemed to meet and exceed attendance expectations.

This excerpted and edited from a local Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania paper, The Morning Call -

Return of racing to Pocono was a people pleaser

By: Paul Reinhard - The Morning Call

[Fans said] They loved what they saw Sunday in Long Pond before the race ever began.

They said they hoped this would not be a one-and-done proposition. When told of the three-year contract between Pocono and IndyCar, they immediately said they'd be back.

That's the kind of talk Pocono Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Nick Igdalsky wanted to hear.

Nick — who, along with his brother, Brandon, the chief executive officer, is the driving force behind the Raceway — wasn't announcing any attendance figures, but he said, "We exceeded our goals, for sure."

If what I heard early in the weekend is correct, the Pocono family hoped for a crowd in the 25,000 range and that those expectations had been met with the advance sale. So, anything gained by way of walkup on a perfect race day was bonus.

Pocono made it almost a must-buy by offering children 12-and-younger half-price tickets for any seat in the house. That worked, for sure, because the crowd included lots of families. And families are potential long-term fans.

"We want to build it over the years and we want this race to be a Fourth of July weekend for the next 20 years," Nick Igdalsky said.
Igdalsky said 60 percent of the prerace sales were to what Pocono calls "new people," who were either never in the track database or had been purged because they had not returned in a long time.
"What struck me is the atmosphere," Igdalsky said. "I don't know if it was because it was the first race back after so long, but I don't think so. This whole fan base makes it different than the other events we have."
"Action toward the end was fast and furious … so, next year, maybe the Fuzzy's Triple Crown will be comprised of three 500-milers," he said nonchalantly.
"That's what we really want," he said. "We think the cars are fast enough. But, it's up to [ABC]. Their call. We don't have a say. We want it to be a 500-mile race. IndyCar knows that, ABC knows that."

The bottom line ... Sunday was all good.

(Reference Here)

July 4th weekend, 500 miles, Pocono, anyone?

... notes from The EDJE

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Pocono's elevated sprocket drive shape gives IndyCar traction

Marco Andretti, driving at his family's home track for the first time as an IICS driver hopes to follow in his grandfather's footsteps and notch a win at Pocono Raceway ... something team owner and father has never done. Image Credit: Chris Owens via

Pocono's elevated sprocket drive shape gives IndyCar traction

For the first time since 1989, American open-wheel racing comes back to an area of the United States that has become known as racing's Magic Triangle due to the location of Pocono Raceway to the population centers of New York and Philadelphia.

Pocono Raceway is about 90 miles away from both New York and Philadelphia with New York having the distinction of the #1 largest TV market and Philadelphia, the #4 largest TV market. This also places the super-speedway within 200 miles of 60 million people and when you consider that the average NASCAR Sprint Cup fan (the main fan base that have used Pocono Speedway these last 24 years) travels 300 miles, this race track is in the highest population density of almost any other popular racing destination.

Everyone loves to bring their own analogy to this uniquely shaped racing venue ... being a triangle, people call the 'Tricky Triangle' a tri-oval or 'roval' because of its asymmetric configuration - an oval with three corners that drives like a road course, The Devil's Triangle, and, naturally, the Bermuda Triangle because of the good driving careers that have been dashed here by drivers and teams that can best figure out the set-up for a car that will encounter very fast speeds around three very differently shaped turns.

The concept of an elevated sprocket for driving the track was first introduced in production as far back as 1917 when the Dayton-Dick Company of Quincy Illinois, introduced its Leader Model 25-40 tractor ... as described in the book, Caterpillar Chronicle: The History of the World's Greatest Earthmovers. This approach has become the most successful track design for heavy equipment. Image Credit:

The best analogy may come from the design of a continuous drive track of a bulldozer known as an elevated sprocket drive found on modern tractor vehicles. The shape delivers superior traction and allows the machine operator great handling performance and control of this earth-moving device.

Pocono Raceway's shape can be described as follows - The front/main straightaway (no-name) leading to turn one is .7083 of a mile or 3,740 feet which enters the Trenton Speedway shaped Turn 1 and catches the cars at 14° banking. The “Long Pond” (the second longest straightaway) stretches for .5786 of a mile or 3,055 feet between Turns One and Two and enters the "Tunnel Turn" (designed to be similar to the high-speed turns at Indianapolis Motor Speedway) at 8° banking. Lastly, the 'no-name' stretch from Turn Two to Turn Three is a mere .3371 of a mile or 1,780 feet and enters the final turn, the Milwaukee Mile Turn 3, at 6° banking.

The unusual triangular configuration is conducive to many lead changes since this track sports the longest and widest straightaway with the longest and widest Pit Road of any on the modern NASCAR circuit. This gives Pocono a uniqueness that will certainly be exploited by the IZOD IndyCar Series open-wheeled DW12s.

During practice and qualifications leading up to this first open-wheel race, the traction of the cars to this unique asymmetrical track layout proved itself. All of the cars that had practiced on Thursday's first day of track activity broke the last open-wheeled race car speed record set by Emerson Fittipaldi at 211.715 mph, with the slowest practice fast lap recorded being Sebastian Saavedra of Dragon Racing at 215.001 mph. Compare this with the fastest speed registered by the other leading racing series to use the track - NASCAR's Joey Logano at 179.598 mph - June 9, 2012. 

Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchcliffe fill out the three-wide start front row to make it an all Andretti Autosport front row for the first time 'home track' race in the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season. Image Credit: Bret Kelley via

Qualifications had Andretti Autosport and Marco Andretti blister the track record by nearly 10 miles per hour with a 221.237 mph two lap average. Further, this 'home track' to the Andretti family, since the Nazareth, PA home base is only about a 20 minute drive from the "Tricky Triangle', had the three-wide starting front row filled with Andretti Autosport teammates of Ryan Hunter-Reay at P2 - 220.892 mph, and James Hinchcliffe at P3 - 220.431 mph. The only dark spot that could have had Andretti Autosport from filling the first four positions on the grid was that during his qualification run, EJ Viso's DW12 stepped out and hit the safer barrier wall ending his Lap 1 run at 219.952 mph.

Final Qualifications Results Here >>>

With the IZOD IndyCar Series visiting this Magic Triangle for the first time in 24 years, traction is the order of the day and the elevated sprocket drive shape of Pocono Raceway delivers on its promise of this nation's most unique super-speedway.

The Pocono Indy 400 Fueled by Sunoco race is set to take place at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, July 7, 2013 at Noon ET, televised on ABC, SiriusXM Channel 211 radio, IndyCar Timing & Scoring found at - - , and mobile phone app INDYCAR 13.

... notes from The EDJE