LONG POND, Pa. – It’s a fresh day today for the delayed running of the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.
Along with the expected sunny weather, though, comes new challenges as teams prepare for the 200-lap race on the 2.5-mile “Tricky Triangle” oval (noon ET, NBCSN and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network). Stronger winds coming from a different direction and a racetrack washed free of rubber from Sunday’s lengthy rain have forced all 22 entries to rethink their setups.
“It’s quite windy today,” Allen McDonald, engineer on the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda that starts sixth and is the sister car to pole sitter Mikhail Aleshin. “There’s a tail wind into Turn 1 and obviously it rained yesterday so the track’s very green.
“The combination of those things is going to make the ‘Tricky Triangle’ even trickier,” McDonald added. “At least in the first stint, we’re expecting less grip. Also, typically in Turn 1 here you have understeer and in Turn 3 you have oversteer. And the way the wind’s blowing is just going to make those two things worse.”
McDonald and the SPM brain trust, as well as every other team’s engineers and drivers, sifted through data overnight and devised game plans for today’s race in the changing conditions. The danger, McDonald said, is sometimes doing too much.
“We’ve had plenty of time to overthink things,” he said, “but we’ve made some smallish adjustments to the car today to try to cope with the different wind and different track conditions.”
The beauty of long races like the Indianapolis 500 and ABC Supply 500, McDonald added, is it tests the mettle of driver and crew – and gives them the opportunity to shine.
“The great thing about 500-milers is you have time to really work on the car,” McDonald said. “One of the things I really love about it is the race is its own engineering challenge. It’s a chance for the drivers and engineers and the whole team to work together to kind of make the car better and keep up with the car and track during the race.
“It’s going to be a busy time, for sure.”
Aleshin will lead the 22-car field to the green, which is expected to wave at 12:09 p.m. ET. The ABC Supply 500 will be the 13th of 16 races on the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule to be completed.
Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud takes a 58-point championship lead over teammate Will Power into the race. Defending race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay will start last. The Andretti Autosport driver did not making a qualifying attempt Saturday after crashing his primary No. 28 DHL Honda in practice.
ABC Supply 500 fast facts:
Track: Pocono Raceway, a 2.5-mile triangular oval in Long Pond, Pa.
Race distance: 200 laps / 500 miles
Start command: 12:03 p.m. ET
Green flag: 12:09 p.m. ET
Fuel: 130 gallons of Sunoco E85R ethanol
Pit window: 25-28 laps