Power wins ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway to tighten championship

Updated: 

LONG POND, Pa. – With the end of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season on the horizon, championship leader Simon Pagenaud entered the ABC Supply 500 looking to maintain his 58-point lead, but when the Frenchman suffered his first major blow of the season, teammate and championship rival Will Power capitalized by earning his fourth win of 2016 and slashing his deficit some 38 points in what could be a season-altering race.

Power won today’s 500-mile race at Pocono Raceway by 1.1459 seconds over pole sitter Mikhail Aleshin, while Pagenaud crashed out in 18th place to heat up the championship battle with three races yet to be completed. Ryan Hunter-Reay, last year’s Pocono winner, charged from the last starting position to finish third.

The 22-car field had to wait an extra day as Sunday rain showers forced the race’s postponement to today, but the field put on a thrilling show that featured nine different leaders, 31 lead changes and 442 passes on track.

Fresh off his first career pole, Aleshin (No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Honda) led the field to the green flag as cars fanned four and five wide behind him. The action continued around the circuit until AJ Foyt Racing’s Takuma Sato spun and made heavy contact with the Turn 3 SAFER Barrier. Sato (No. 14 ABC Supply Honda) got out under his own power and was checked, cleared and released from the infield care center.

“It was pretty hard (hit), but thanks to the safety of INDYCAR and Pocono Raceway I was able to walk away,” said Sato, who started a season-best third. “I may have some bruises but I'm perfectly fine. I'm not sure (what happened).”

With cooler conditions and strong winds on hand, teams were faced with many unknowns. Sato thought it may have played into his incident.

“We thought we needed more downforce, we discussed the wind,” Sato said. “The conditions were a little tricky, but I'm not sure what happened exactly. I went into Turn 3 and it just went free so quickly and I simply lost the back end."

Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda) did not qualify after a practice crash Saturday morning, but used a lightning start to jump from 22nd to 14th on Lap 2. At the same time, Ed Carpenter Racing’s Josef Newgarden (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium/ECR Vodka Chevrolet) jumped Aleshin for the lead until the Russian regained the top spot. Aleshin wound up leading a race-high and career-best 87 laps.

The Russian regained the lead following pit cycles, but was overtaken by Hunter-Reay on Lap 49, capping a run from last-to-first before reaching quarter distance.

The second caution of the race came out on Lap 64 in the middle of the second round of pit stops, when Alexander Rossi (No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda) made contact in pit lane with Charlie Kimball (No. 83 Tresiba Chevrolet). Rossi’s car went airborne and over the top of Helio Castroneves (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet). Kimball’s car was not significantly damaged in the exchanged and continued, but both Castroneves and Rossi were forced to retire from the race. Rossi was penalized 20 seconds for avoidable contact and making contact with pit equipment.

“Everyone is going to have their own opinion but I was staying in the slow lane,” Rossi said. “Kimball was obviously trying to come in his box, but then Helio was being released. So I don’t know. It’s very unfortunate. This car was awesome today. We were at the front with relative ease and we were waiting for the end to go to the front for the final time.

“Obviously I’m not in charge of releasing cars, so I don’t know the gap that needs to be had. I was sent. I knew there was a car to my right and I stayed in the slow lane. So, that was all I could do.”

The gloves came off on Lap 134 when Hunter-Reay passed Aleshin to regain the lead and stretched his advantage over the field to nearly three seconds before his penultimate stop on Lap 151, handing the lead to Power.

Power’s team used another strong pit stop on Lap 156 to overtake Hunter-Reay for the effective lead of the race before the incident on Lap 158 that could have major implications on the season championship. Pagenaud, who had left pit road a lap earlier in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet, crashed at the exit of Turn 1, issuing him his first DNF of 2016.

On the Lap 163 restart, another race contender took a major blow. Hunter-Reay, who had just taken the lead back from Power, lost power between Turns 2 and 3. The American would rejoin the race after rolling through the pits and resetting his electronics, but lost a lap.

The caution flag came out for the fourth time on Lap 175 for debris in Turn 2, prompting all the leaders to pit for the final time under yellow. Power held the lead through the stops, setting up the dash to the finish with Aleshin at his heels.

Aleshin stalked the Australian but could not find away alongside the 2014 series champion. Power won his fourth race of the season and closed to with 20 points of Pagenaud in the championship. The win is Power’s second in a 500-mile race after Auto Club Speedway in 2013 and makes for six straight races with him finishing in the top two, dating back to the second race at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit in June.

Power also claimed his 29th career win, tying him with Castroneves and Rick Mears for 11th on the all-time list.

There is no break for Verizon IndyCar Series, as the 22-car field heads back to Texas Motor Speedway for the resumption of the Firestone 600, which was paused after 71 laps in June due to weather. Prior to the restart of the race on Saturday, the field will get a brief practice session before resuming under the lights on the 1.455-mile oval. Race coverage begins 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Pos

SP

Car

Driver

C/E/T

Lap

Laps Down

Time Down

Pit Stops

Elapsed Time

Avg Speed

Pts

Running/Reason Out

1

8

12

Power, Will

D/C/C/F

200

0

--.----

8

02:46:28.9856

180.198

51

Running

2

1

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

D/H/H/F

200

0

1.1459

8

02:46:30.1315

180.178

44

Running

3

22

28

Hunter-Reay, Ryan

D/H/H/F

200

0

5.9076

9

02:46:34.8932

180.092

36

Running

4

2

21

Newgarden, Josef

D/C/C/F

200

0

7.0750

8

02:46:36.0606

180.071

33

Running

5

18

11

Bourdais, Sebastien

D/C/C/F

200

0

7.5285

9

02:46:36.5141

180.063

31

Running

6

19

9

Dixon, Scott

D/C/C/F

200

0

7.8896

9

02:46:36.8752

180.056

29

Running

7

5

26

Munoz, Carlos

D/H/H/F

200

0

11.5938

8

02:46:40.5794

179.990

26

Running

8

15

2

Montoya, Juan Pablo

D/C/C/F

200

0

13.4345

9

02:46:42.4201

179.956

24

Running

9

9

10

Kanaan, Tony

D/C/C/F

200

0

13.7988

8

02:46:42.7844

179.950

23

Running

10

6

5

Hinchcliffe, James

D/H/H/F

200

0

14.2235

9

02:46:43.2091

179.942

20

Running

11

11

15

Rahal, Graham

D/H/H/F

200

0

14.3471

9

02:46:43.3327

179.940

19

Running

12

13

27

Andretti, Marco

D/H/H/F

200

0

16.3334

8

02:46:45.3190

179.904

18

Running

13

17

8

Chilton, Max (R)

D/C/C/F

200

0

17.1907

10

02:46:46.1763

179.889

17

Running

14

12

41

Hawksworth, Jack

D/H/H/F

200

0

18.5585

9

02:46:47.5441

179.864

16

Running

15

16

83

Kimball, Charlie

D/C/C/F

199

1

-

11

02:47:00.5181

178.733

15

Running

16

20

88

Daly, Conor (R)

D/H/H/F

198

2

-

10

02:46:48.2590

178.053

14

Running

17

21

19

Mann, Pippa

D/H/H/F

197

3

-

10

02:46:58.7731

176.968

13

Running

18

14

22

Pagenaud, Simon

D/C/C/F

157

43

-

7

02:07:20.5988

184.933

13

Contact

19

4

3

Castroneves, Helio

D/C/C/F

63

137

-

3

00:52:42.2672

179.302

11

Contact

20

7

98

Rossi, Alexander (R)

D/H/H/F

63

137

-

5

00:53:01.4137

179.350

11

Contact

21

10

20

Carpenter, Ed

D/C/C/F

57

143

-

3

00:56:22.2061

151.676

9

Mechanical

22

3

14

Sato, Takuma

D/H/H/F

1

199

-

0

00:01:16.3324

117.905

8

Contact

Lead Change Summary

Leader Summary

On Lap

Car

Leader

Car

Driver

Laps Led

1

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

87

2

21

Newgarden, Josef

12

Power, Will

55

11

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

28

Hunter-Reay, Ryan

31

32

98

Rossi, Alexander

21

Newgarden, Josef

15

34

9

Dixon, Scott

98

Rossi, Alexander

4

36

11

Bourdais, Sebastien

11

Bourdais, Sebastien

3

38

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

9

Dixon, Scott

3

49

28

Hunter-Reay, Ryan

10

Kanaan, Tony

1

56

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

22

Pagenaud, Simon

1

61

21

Newgarden, Josef

62

98

Rossi, Alexander

64

12

Power, Will

66

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

90

28

Hunter-Reay, Ryan

94

21

Newgarden, Josef

96

10

Kanaan, Tony

97

9

Dixon, Scott

98

12

Power, Will

100

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

120

28

Hunter-Reay, Ryan

123

21

Newgarden, Josef

126

12

Power, Will

129

22

Pagenaud, Simon

130

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

134

28

Hunter-Reay, Ryan

151

12

Power, Will

157

11

Bourdais, Sebastien

158

12

Power, Will

164

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

165

12

Power, Will

Caution Summary

No

Duration

Total

Reason for Caution

1

2 to 7

6

Contact: Car 14 in Turn 3

2

64 to 69

6

Contact: Cars 3, 83, and 98 in Pit Lane

3

158 to 162

5

Contact: Car 22 in Turn 1

4

176 to 178

3

Debris

Caution Summary

No

Duration

Total

Reason for Caution

1

2 to 7

6

Contact: Car 14 in Turn 3

2

64 to 69

6

Contact: Cars 3, 83, and 98 in Pit Lane

3

158 to 162

5

Contact: Car 22 in Turn 1

4

176 to 178

3

Debris

Penalty Summary

Car

98

Reason

Avoidable Contact

Lap

63

Penalty

20 Second Penalty

Penalty Summary

Car

98

Reason

Avoidable Contact

Lap

63

Penalty

20 Second Penalty

(C)hassis: D=Dallara | (A)erokit: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (E)ngine: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (T)ire: F=Firestone

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