LIVE BLOG: 2014 Pocono INDYCAR 500 Fueled by Sunoco

IndyCar, IndyCar commentary — By on July 5, 2014 8:29 am

1:03 pm ET — This morning’s practice session #1 was run without incident. Tony Kanaan nabbed the top spot with a lap of 221.344 mph.  The Honda-power quartet of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe and Takumo Sato rounded out the top 5.  Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya was the only other driver over 220 mph.

Following the session, Ryan Hunter-Reay was made available to the small cadre of media members here this weekend.  Because of the very asymmetrical layout of the track, Pocono Raceway always lives up to its reputation of being the Tricky Triangle.  The weather though, said Ryan, is making it even trickier today.  The stiff breeze blowing from turns 2 and 3 toward turn 1 is affecting the car is every corner — pushing in turn 1 and loose in turn 2.  In turn 3, the wind is actually affecting the car twice as it is loose on entry and pushing a bit on exit.

Ryan was also asked about his season thus far.  Obviously winning the Indianapolis 500 was the highlight and the resulting schedule has been the busiest of his life.  On track, he still feels like he is obviously a championship contender coming into this event trailing Will Power by only 41 points.

Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing driver Charlie Kimball also made an appearance in the media center.  Kimball said he enjoys the challenge this track presents, and the runner-up finish here last year would support that claim.  Kimball is of course driving for Chevrolet this year rather than Honda, but he says the performance difference on the large ovals is not significantly different.  Asked about his season thus far, Kimball pointed out that when they have finished, they have been in the top 10.  Finding consistency is the focal point for the second half of the year.

Speaking of Honda, I spoke with a Honda representative about their expectations here at Pocono after suffering several spectacular failures on the last oval at Texas Motor Speedway.  While he declined to disclose the specific issue, he did confirm that all failures were the same part.  Those failures, though, all occurred at different mileage points in the engines’ lives.  Additionally, he was quick to point out that Simon Pagenaud brought his car home fourth with a Honda engine that reached its 2,500-mile requirement during the race.  Nonetheless, Honda is confident in their engine performance here and expect to run strong for 500 miles tomorrow.

Indy Lights qualifying has just wrapped up with Zach Veach taking the pole with a two-lap average of 184.438 mph.  Nearly every driver spoke of a huge wind-aided push in turn 1.  Expect that to be theme through the rest of the day. Practice session #2 for the Verizon IndyCar Series is set to go off in 30 minutes.


9:25 AM ET — Whether by extraordinary planning by INDYCAR and Pocono Raceway or by sheer luck (I’m putting more emphasis on the latter), race weekend for the second leg of the 2014 INDYCAR Triple Crown has dawned under absolutely gorgeous conditions in the eastern Pennsylvania mountains.  Unlike last weekend where fans and competitors endured suffocating heat and humidity and a torrential downpour on Saturday, weather will be of no concern to us whatever this weekend, save for a slight nip in the air this morning.  Temperatures are starting in the mid 50s and are expected to top out both days in the mid 70s.

Before activity gets started today (9:00 for Indy Lights, 10:00 for the Verizon IndyCar Series, track conditions permitting), let’s go ahead and get some of the background information out of the way.  (Most but not all of this information can, of course, be found in the Event Summary.)

Tomorrow’s race is, as you might have guessed, 500 miles on the 2.5-mile triangle shaped oval.  As with the other two Triple Crown events, this race will start in 3-wide formation, yielding seven rows of three cars each and a lonely car making up row eight by himself. Fuel allotment for the 500 miles is 125 gallons.  Simple math suggests cars must obtain 4 mph to make all 500 miles.  When refueling, drivers will pull into pit boxes that are 45′ x 16′.  As with most tracks that are configured for NASCAR races, we don’t expect to see any troubles with drivers getting into or out of their pit stalls.

Firestone has supplied tires that teams are familiar with for this event.  The left-side tires are the same as those used at the Indianapolis 500 (sans the Indy 500 and Wheel & Wings logos) while the right-side tires were last run on the high-banks of Texas Motor Speedway. For aerodynamic setup, teams will have plenty of options.  Rear wings angles are allowed to vary between 0° and -10°.  Wickers (Gurney flaps) are optional, as are rear wheel backing plates and underwing strakes.

It’s about time for the eight Indy Lights cars here this weekend to take to the track.  Back with more later.

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