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

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