|Monday, August 22, 2016 11:46PM|
Returning to race competition following a three week break, Verizon IndyCar Series headed to Pocono Raceway for this weekend’s ABC Supply 500. A weekend full of drama but a fundamentally strong race car was curtailed by a crash on pit lane, after Alexander Rossi had re-fueled from the lead, cutting short what was looking to be one of the Californian’s strongest races of the season so far.
With Union Jack flags waving high above pit lane in honor of the one-year anniversary of losing Justin Wilson at Pocono Raceway, the Andretti Autosport stable of four took to the 2.5-mile triangular oval on Saturday for a morning practice session followed by qualifying for Round 14 of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series competition.
The Andretti teammates showed strength in the morning practice, posting quick times both with and without tows; Alexander clocked the top time for the team of the session, finishing in P4 overall with a time of 40.9227, and speed of 219.927 in the No.98 Castrol EDGE/Curb Honda. Just a few hours later, the American took to the track once more for qualifying; two laps later and when the checkered flags flew Alexander took a strong P7 overall, with an average speed of 219.326. With the car looking strong for the race ahead, the Californian native had high hopes for a podium finish on Sunday on the penultimate oval of the season.
However, Mother Nature had a different plan for the Verizon IndyCar Series as weather conditions led series officials to postpone the race. Rain clouds rolled across the 2.5-mile speedway in Long Pond, PA. a couple hours ahead of the race's scheduled green flag time. Track drying time and the looming rain forecast eliminated a window of opportunity on Sunday, and the race was postponed until Monday, August 22nd.
Monday was met with sunny skies and a dry track, and Alexander took to the “Tricky Triangle” once more as the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway got underway. Starting from 7th, Alexander made a clean start as the flags waved green, and quickly began his charge through the field. Showing the strength of the No. 98 Castrol EDGE/Curb Honda, Alexander settled back into moving up the grid, taking over the lead of the race and looking strong for a podium finish, and potentially the race win.
On Lap 63 Alexander relinquished the lead, pitting with his nearest rival, 2nd-place man Helio Castroneves, following suit just behind. Alexander made a good stop and as he exited his box, knowing he had Helio to race, he accelerated up through the slow lane to rejoin the race. Kimball was positioned in the fast lane and behind Alexander as he was released, decelerating in anticipation of his box. However he collided with Alexander who became airborne, and with nowhere to go, took out the No. 3 car of Helio.
Thankfully, all parties involved were unharmed, however it cut short both Alexander and Helio’s races. Alexander and the team now look to Texas, and the return to the Firestone 600 on August 27th for the postponed race, kicking off at 9:15pm ET.
Bryan Herta: “It was a frustrating end to what could have been a positive race for us. The car looked strong throughout the weekend, and we had the potential to be on the podium or even take the win. The main thing is that all parties are ok, and we’ll be taking the performance momentum through to Texas.”
Alexander Rossi: “First of all I’m glad that Helio is ok after our incident - to go over the top of another car is not good, and my first thought was for him of course. It’s a frustrating end to our weekend, particularly as we looked to be in a position where we could potentially take the win today. I don’t know what Kimball was thinking, he was clearly behind me when I was released - his quickest way to his box was to cross behind me, as I was speeding up and he was slowing down. The Andretti Autosport team provided an unbelievable car, that has been strong all weekend, and I’m disappointed we were unable to get the results we deserved today. That said, the main thing is all parties were unharmed, and we’ll be back fighting and looking for another strong result in Texas.”