Lo and behold, the summer break is over and everyone is back
to school on the track. Although, patience was of the essence as a rain delay meant we had to wait one extra day for the season to actually come back in session. It was one heck of a race to come back to.
The Pocono Raceway, a.k.a. the”Tricky Triangle,” took out some of the best today: Takuma Sato in the first three laps after he had a great qualifying run on Saturday. Series leader Simon Pagenaud went out with something going out in his car and crashing hard. Conor Daly, Juan Pablo Montoya and Ed Carpenter were also out early-on.
Alexander Rossi held fifth steady the first half of the race until a crash with Charlie Kimball as he was exiting the pit would put his car in the air and fly into and over Helio Castroneves and his car (Kimball would make it out okay to finish, and also very excited to see Castroneves doing well after what looked like Rossi’s car landing on his head).
More fascinating was Honda’s strong lead throughout the entire race. Maybe it’s just something about Pocono, but Chevy had a difficult time keeping up. Mikhail Aleshin brought Honda to the pole this weekend, and just narrowly missed a P1 finish after holding tight to first until that last leg of the race. Will Power would take P1.
The top five rotated between four Hondas and Josef Newgarden. Seeing Rossi and Carlos Munoz in those five was a nice change of pace, especially considering Andretti’s cars have not had the most impressive finishes this year. Marco Andretti is constantly commenting on it, although his claim about the car being part of the problem might not be entirely accurate. His teammates all had a strong race, while he still continued to struggle.
Overall, Honda really hasn’t had a lot of success on the circuits this season–although Rossi’s win at Indy was quite the feat. With talk of problems with aero kits and engines not being quick enough to make impressive finishes, that all appeared to be proven wrong today.
Ryan Hunter-Reay really demonstrated the power behind the Honda engines, after starting down at P22 due to a crash during qualifying this weekend, resulting in running a new car today. It looked as if it were going to be a difficult race for Hunter-Reay to take on, yet instead, he pulled ahead to hold 1st until his engine cut out momentarily and he fell again to the back, only to pull ahead again to third, passing Newgarden to put two Hondas on the podium for the day.
Not to say it wasn’t unfortunate to see Newgarden lose third and the points that would have come with it, but Hunter-Reay’s pass to gain that podium finished made all the work he put forth during the race absolutely worth it and made for one phenomenal race to watch.
Oh, and Pagenaud still holds the series lead after not finishing this race and Power’s win. With three races yet to go, the series ending is bound to be exciting.