Verizon Team Penske’s Will Power in the No.12 Chevrolet has closed the gap in the race for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship to just 20 points to points leader and team mate Simon Pagenaud after taking victory in Pocono on Monday.
Power who missed the opening race of the year has had an incredibly strong season having taken back to victories in Detroit race 2 and the Kohler Grand Prix at the Road America circuit. The Australian also took victory at last months Honda Indy Toronto and went into today’s race 58 points behind Pagenaud.
Power started the race from 8th place on the grid but made a good start and fought his way to the front of the field and in the closing laps of the race took the lead after passing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Mikhail Aleshin. Speaking following the race, Power commented by saying:
It was so hard to follow in traffic because we started very light on downforce but you know, we just kept adding and adding and adding. Then the team adjusted on the car a bit until it was awesome at the end and I was very good in traffic. I just have to thank Verizon and for all the access they give the fans and I also want to thank Chevrolet. The Chevy engine was awesome today and the body kit was obviously also awesome. So you know it was a very good comeback and I am very happy to win here. I love winning 500-mile races and this is one of the toughest ovals that we race on. We are chipping away at (gaining on the championship leader) and obviously there is still a lot to go. Now we will give it everything because we really want to win this championship. The car started off really, really difficult to drive. We adjusted on it all day and for the second half of the race, the car was just awesome. Awesome in traffic, really fast. Just a lot of fun to drive. The Firestones were really good today. Very consistent the whole stint. Just lost a little at the end there so thank you Firestone, as always awesome tires and very reliable. Mikhail (Aleshin, pole sitter) was giving me a lot of heat there at the end. I was like, ‘Man is he going to get me?’ He was close. I felt like if I could take his air in three but I felt if he had to lift there, I would be okay, but he was very strong. That is as good as it gets. No mistakes. Great stops. As an overall team effort, that was as good of a day you could possible get. Thanks to my team.
Following a difficult day on Saturday which saw him crash in the morning and qualify in a rebuilt No.2 Penske Truck Rental Chevrolet in 15th place, Juan Pablo Montoya finished the race inside the top ten in eighth place just ahead of Tony Kanaan and speaking following the race the Colombian commented by saying:
The hum by Verizon ran well for most of the race. We had some problems with understeer and that made for a tough day. Things didn’t turn out the way we would have liked it to, as we definitely hoped for better results. I’m very proud of the team and how they pulled together the whole weekend and throughout today. We will continue to hold our heads up and look towards the next race in Texas.
It was a tough race for Helio Castroneves in the No.3 Hitachi Chevrolet who was involved in an accident on pit-road with Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi which saw the No.98 Castrol/EDGE Honda launch over Castroneves’ car narrowly missing the Brazilian’s head. Although the team tried to get the car back on track it was decided to retire from the race and speaking following the event, Castroneves commented by saying:
Inside the car, I was actually more protected than what it looked like. Sometime people don’t realize the Verizon IndyCar series are so much about safety and today is the proof of that. Very glad that nobody got hurt. It’s just a shame. The Hitachi Chevy was really having a good day and we just had another good pit stop when I was coming out of the pits. All of a sudden there was a car on top of me. It was a little strange to be honest. The Team Penske guys worked really hard to try and fix the car but there was a lot of damage. It’s certainly unfortunate because this will hurt us in the championship battle but our team will never give up. We’ll move on to Texas where, fortunately, we’ve had a lot of success.
Series points leader Simon Pagenaud in the No.22 Menards Chevrolet had an extremely disappointing race as he was forced to retire from the event on lap 157 of 200 after making heavy contact with the wall.
As a result Pagenaud’s lead has dropped from 58 to 20 points as the Verizon IndyCar Series heads to Texas for the Firestone 600 on Saturday night. Speaking following the race the Frenchman commented by saying:
I don’t know what happened at this point. The car bottomed and I went straight to the wall. Really weird because I had bottoming but not to that extent. I just lost control of the steering. It felt okay leaving the pits. Turn 1 was fine. Turn 2 was fine. I don’t know. That one’s weird but it’s definitely a bit of a shame. It’s really disappointing because the Menards Chevrolet wasn’t great, but was good enough to score some points. There’s nothing we can do about it now, so we’ll move on to Texas. I don’t think it changes anything. We’ve gone all out all season and that’s not going to change.