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Rossi Thrashes IndyCar Field At Pocono

As the field races to the starting line, bedlam occurs in the back with Graham Rahal up against the outer wall and Spencer Pigot (green car) spins into the inner wall. [Joe Jennings Photo]

As the field races to the starting line, bedlam occurs in the back with Graham Rahal up against the outer wall and Spencer Pigot (green car) spins into the inner wall. [Joe Jennings Photo]

by:  Joe Jennings

LONG POND, Pa. – Alexander Rossi soundly thrashed the Verizon IndyCar Series field at the Pocono Raceway, winning the ABC Supply 500 on a cool, heavily overcast day.  The winner led 180 of the 200 laps around the 2.5-mile oval known as the “Tricky Triangle.”

Driving the NAPA Auto Parts Honda, the Californian won for the third time in 2018 and overall the fifth occasion.  His only other oval track victory came in the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

“The testament to my win was the work done by my Andretti Autosport and the results of the test last week by Zach Veach, which allowed us to roll off strong, and we couldn’t have done it otherwise.” he stated.  “It was a big team win and the Andretti Autosports crew.  They were perfect on pit stops and strategy, giving us the tools we needed to get it done today.”

Pole winner Will Power finished strongly in second place and point leader Scott Dixon came from 13th to third.

“We had a couple of bad runs, and on the last pit stop, I got caught up behind Max Chilton,” he stated.

Said Dixon, “It was a strange day.  The race was a difficult one and our car had a lot of understeer.  We added front wing on every stop.  It was difficult to pass, so we changed our strategy but it didn’t work.  All-in-all a frustrating day.”

Rossi’s win tightened the points race. Coming into the event, Dixon led Rossi by 46 points with Newgarden 60 back and Power trailing in fourth 87 behind.  At race end, Dixon’s lead was narrowed to 29 over Rossi with Newgarden 66 back and Power 81 off the pace.

Sebastien Bourdais ended up fourth, the only other driver to complete the 200 laps.

The race got off on an ominous note with two incidents, one of which was extremely violent and stopped the race for some two hours.

Coming to the green flag cars toward the back of the field came together with Spencer Pigot spinning into the inside wall and Graham Rahal grazing the outside wall.  As a unit, the drivers blamed pole driver Will Power for an erratic starting pace.

Power defended himself by producing a telemetry report showing he was adhering to the prescribed speed of 107 miles per hour.

Seconds after the restart, Robert Wickens and Ryan Hunter-Reay came together in a savage crash in Turn 2.  With the field tightly bunched, Pietro Fittipaldi clobbered James Hinchcliffe.  Takuma Sato and others were also involved.

The race was stopped at this point to allow medical staff to tend to the drivers and to allow track crews to clear the debris.

Except for Wickens, all drivers were checked and released at the infield medical center.

Wickens had to be airlifted to a nearby hospital where he was said to be “awake and alert.”

The impact of the crash severely damaged the SAFER barrier and track maintenance personnel spent the next two hours making repairs.  The race restarted at 4:30 p.m. on the 12th lap.

After the top-four finishers, Newgarden took fifth, and he was trailed by teammates Zach Veach and Marco Andretti, Simon Pagenaud, Charlie Kimball and Ed Carpenter.

The ABC Supply 500 was run in two hours and 36 minutes at an average speed of 191.304 miles per hour.

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