FIRST IMPRESSIONS: 2013 Pocono IndyCar 400 Fueled by Sunoco

First Impressions, IndyCar — By on July 8, 2013 8:20 am
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After an excruciatingly long wait and amid much fanfare, IndyCar has finally returned to Pocono Raceway. Below are the More Front Wing crew’s first impressions of the 2013 Pocono IndyCar 400 Fueled by Sunoco.

STEPH’S IMPRESSIONS:

Well, didn’t Chip Ganassi Racing turn their season around in style!

It seemed to take them almost as long to get their feet back under them as it took IndyCar to get back to Pocono in the first place. There was once a time when a Ganassi 1-2-3 would have left fans groaning, but I doubt very much that there was much complaining after this one. Here we are in July, and both Scott Dixon and TCGR are being counted as new additions to the driver and team win columns. That’s one of the best testaments around to the crazy and awesome season IndyCar is having.

As for the rest of the race, it seemed like a sufficiently triumphant return. There will no doubt be people complaining that it became a fuel mileage race, but I found watching each car lap around Pocono to be interesting enough that I never really begrudged it. Perhaps in a few years once visits to the track are more routine I’ll feel differently, but for the moment I was satisfied with watching IndyCars compete on a track that was so obviously made for them.

It’s a shame the grandstands weren’t a little more full, but from all reports the ticket sales were robust enough that the track was happy, so that’s great news. And although the ABC booth team had some life in them at times, I can’t say I’m disappointed that this was the final ABC race of the season (Charlie Kimball’s “pass” for the lead, anyone?). It’s all NBC Sports Network from here on out — maybe not great news from a reach standpoint but certainly from the perspective of the fans at home.

Now, the Series heads to my Home and Native Land for the double-header at the Honda Indy Toronto. Few things strike terror into the hearts of Canadian IndyCar fans, by the way, like seeing James Hinchcliffe limp away from a broken race car mere days before he’s scheduled to head home! But Hinch is fine, fortunately, and will soon make his much-anticipated return to the streets of Exhibition Place. More Front Wing will have a strong presence on the grounds all weekend, so keep an eye out here on the site and on Twitter for live updates!

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JOHN’S IMPRESSIONS:

I am so happy that the powers that be at IndyCar have brought the Tricky Triangle and the Triple Crown back to the schedule. The three-wide start was a great nod to tradition, and it looked fantastic on Pocono’s long front straight. This race definitely needs to become a long-standing tradition once again.

This has to be the most surprising Ganassi podium sweep ever given the way the season has unfolded. The fuel mileage definitely worked in their favor, with six of the top seven finishers being Hondas. But I think the bigger factor in this race was the crazy attrition. Hinch crashing lap one, RHR getting taken out by Sato in the pits, Tony breaking his front wing while leading, and Marco being unable to hit the fuel number managed to kill the races of five of the strongest cars today.

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BASH’S IMPRESSIONS:

I was glued to tennis history in the making at Wimbledon, so I had to catch up with this race on DVR and it was a fairly disjointed experience. Nonetheless, it was great to see Pocono’s big, wide straights and missing Turn 4 with IndyCars flying around them again.

I felt bad for Marco Andretti, who dominated the race just to be held back by fuel mileage issues, and seeing Tony Kanaan damage his front wing and fall out of contention for the win and the Triple Crown bonus was gutting. It was great to see Ganassi step back up to their expected standard and sweep the podium, though. As much as I love the variety of winners this season and wins by small teams, I want the big teams to be strong as well. Dixon, Kimball and Franchitti going 1-2-3 showed that the newest Honda spec engine has improved their speed enough to stay with Chevy better and, as usual, Hondas led the way in fuel mileage.

This certainly has been a season of twists and turns, and the return to Pocono just adds to the fun. Let’s keep going back to the Tricky Triangle!

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CHAD’S IMPRESSIONS:

How quickly the tables can turn. This past week I have been working on a story about the struggles of Chip Ganassi’s race team this season. Instead of posting that next week as planned, I’ve now placed it in my electronic recycle bin. To say that Ganassi, Dixon, Kimball, and especially Franchitti needed this result would be a massive understatement. In a whirlwind season that has been filled with question marks and concerned faces, they responded emphatically on Sunday.

It was another promising start for Michael Andretti’s juggernaut team. After sweeping the front row in qualifying, things quickly turned sour with Hinchcliffe’s crash in the first turn and RHR being a victim of Sato’s bonehead mistake on pit lane. Once again, Marco dominated the first half of the race but wasn’t there when it mattered most — at the end.

Speaking of tough breaks, that had to have been a gut-wrenching call for Tony Kanaan and his team to make when he messed up his front wing. The Triple Crown won’t be had this year, but both he and Dixon can still win a cool $250,000 in Fontana to wrap up the season. Will Power’s winless streak remains in check, and so too is his streak of non-podium finishes. He just missed it today with a solid 4th place run, and he has been performing much better on the ovals. With the next seven races on road/street courses, I suspect we’ll see him snap that streak and finally get back to victory lane.

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