Win by Penske Racing’s Will Power at the Pocono ABC Supply 500 tightens IndyCar Championship Race …

Posted: August 23, 2016 in Uncategorized
Mikhail Aleshin leads the field into Turn 1 at the start of the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway -- IndyCar Image by Bret Kelley

Mikhail Aleshin leads the field into Turn 1 at the start of the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono – IndyCar Image by Bret Kelley

LONG POND, Pa. (Monday, Aug. 22, 2016) – It’s a whole new race for the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. By winning today’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, Team Penske’s Will Power claimed his fourth victory of the season and closed within 20 points of the top of the standings.

Power held off Verizon P1 Award pole winner Mikhail Aleshin by 1.1459 seconds on the 2.5-mile “Tricky Triangle” oval to also collect the 29th win of his Indy car career. It tied him with a pair of Team Penske greats for 11th on the all-time victory list – Rick Mears and Helio Castroneves.

“I love winning 500-mile races and this is one of the toughest ovals that we race on,” said Power, whose other 500-mile victory came in the 2013 season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

The 200-lap race was delayed a day after heavy rain Sunday forced its postponement. Starting eighth, Power gradually moved his No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet to the front, not taking his first lead until Lap 64.

“The car started off really, really difficult to drive,” said the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, who led 55 laps on the day, including the last 36. “We adjusted on it all day and, for the second half of the race, the car was just awesome.”

Meanwhile, points leader Simon Pagenaud crashed out of the race on Lap 158 in the No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet, finishing 18th, and saw his cushion trimmed by 38 points with three races remaining on the 2016 schedule – the completion of the rain-suspended Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on Aug. 27, the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen on Sept. 4 and the double-points GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 18.

“We are chipping away at it and obviously there is still a lot to go,” said Power, who sat out the season opener at St. Petersburg with an inner-ear infection but ran his string of finishing first or second to the last six completed races. “Now we will give it everything. We will give it everything because we really want to win this championship.”

The podium of Will Power, Mikhail Aleshin, and Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrate in Victory Circle following the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway -- IndyCar Image by Chris Jones

The podium of Will Power, Mikhail Aleshin, and Ryan Hunter-Reay celebrate in Victory Circle following the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway – IndyCar Image by Chris Jones

Runner-up Aleshin led a race-high and career-high 87 laps in equaling his career-best finish. The driver of the No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Honda shadowed Power over the closing 18 laps but couldn’t make the pass for the lead.

“I’m very proud of my team and everyone who works on the SMP Racing car No. 7,” said Aleshin, the first Russian driver to win an Indy car pole position. “They did a fantastic job today and it paid off. Will was just faster in the end and I couldn’t do anything with him.

“When I was catching him, I almost put my car into the wall a couple of times but I still couldn’t overtake him. He has a fair win, for sure, but I’m happy to be in second place because we had some difficult moments this race and this year, so this is a good position to move forward.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay, winner of the 2015 ABC Supply 500, charged from last place on the starting grid to finish 3rd. Hunter-Reay moved into the lead by Lap 49 and ran up front until an electronics malfunction in his No. 28 DHL Honda on Lap 163 dropped him a lap down. The Andretti Autosport driver got back on the lead lap during the last caution period and raced from 12th place to 3rd over the final 20 laps.

“I had to come through the field twice and that is heartbreaking for us,” Hunter-Reay said. “This is the type of year it has been, really heartbreaking. The No. 28 DHL Honda really deserved to be in contention for the win there at the end.

Ryan Hunter-Reay comes in for tires and fuel on pit lane during the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway -- IndyCar Image by Bret Kelley

Ryan Hunter-Reay comes in for tires and fuel on pit lane during the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway – IndyCar Image by Bret Kelley

“I was going through Turn 2 and (the car) just shut off. I power-cycled the car once, nothing happened, then I came into the pits, power-cycled it again – turned it off, on – and then it refired. We were a lap down. I had to come through the field twice, but the car was a rocket ship. It’s a shame.”

2016 Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi, three-time Indy 500 winner Castroneves and Charlie Kimball were involved in a pit-lane incident on Lap 64. As Rossi was exiting his pit, his car made contact with Kimball, who was entering his pit. Rossi’s car was launched over the top of Castroneves.

None of the drivers was injured. Kimball continued and finished 15th, while the contact ended the day for Castroneves and Rossi in 18th and 19th, respectively. Also uninjured was Takuma Sato, who crashed in Turn 1 on the opening lap and finished 22nd.

The Firestone 600 will pick up on Lap 72 of a scheduled 248 at Texas Motor Speedway on Aug. 27. Live race coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Pocono Raceway Box Score

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