When you’re hot, you’re hot, and Target Chip Ganassi Racing was most definitely hot at Pocono Raceway last weekend, locking out the podium with Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball and Dario Franchitti after 160 laps of the “Tricky Triangle” in north-east Pennsylvania.
It was also a massive sigh of relief for the entire Ganassi team, who had endured a horror run of form for the most part over the last 18 months, prior to today claiming just one other podium by any driver this season, which came in the form of a second-placed finish for Dixon at Barber Motorsports Park.
Another team who secured a lockout over the weekend was Andretti Autosports, however their result was quite the opposite. Polesitter Marco Andretti led more than 80 laps over the course of the day however didn’t quite calculate the best pit strategy, meaning he needed to make two pit stops close to the end of the race when many of the other frontrunners only needed to make one.
To avoid this, Andretti was forced to minimise his fuel consumption, which limited his horsepower and gradually saw him drop back through the field late in the race, eventually finishing tenth and running out of fuel as he entered the pit lane on the slow-down lap at the end.
Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay was also running strong until entering the pits for his second pit stop. As he slowed to the required pit lane speed limit, he was hit from behind by Takuma Sato, who was entering the pitlane way over the maximum speed, barrelling into Hunter-Reay and sending the reigning series champion careering into the pit lane wall. Hunter-Reay’s suspension was damaged, and his crew brought his car behind the wall and repaired it before getting him back in the race to try for some points, albeit 23 laps down.
James Hinchcliffe, who started in third place, didn’t even make it around the first corner of Lap 1, as his car snapped loose and sent the Canadian into the wall. Hinch banged his knee in the impact but was otherwise uninjured.
Elsewhere, Tristan Vautier, Helio Castroneves and Simona de Silvestro were all running well early on and dicing furiously for track position. Castroneves hardly featured in the race all day but finished eighth. Troubles for his main championship rivals Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti saw the Brazilian maintain his points lead at 36 heading into a double-header at Toronto next weekend.
Vautier also had pit troubles of his own. Approaching his pit box for a scheduled stop, the French rookie inadvertently passed his pit box without realising, and hastily turned in, spinning his car 90- degrees and pointing at his crew, who rushed out to help. The HP Sam Schmidt crew pushed their driver back to his pit box, performed the stop and sent him on his way, many seconds lost.
The field was very well behaved over the course of the day, with only two cautions all afternoon being for Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay. This didn’t prevent any overtaking moves, with many nail biting passes pulled off through the field. Sensibly, traditional Triple Crown rules calling for three-wide restarts were abandoned, with the two restarts coming in single file to avoid potential for further carnage.
Scott Dixon kept his nose clean all day, passing cars on the track and through faster stops, with his teammates doing the same to all be at the right end of the field at the right time. The win was extra special for both Target as a primary sponsor and Honda as an engine supplier, who claimed their 100th and 200th IndyCar Series victories respectively, as well as lifting a massive weight from the shoulders of all within the team.
Pocono was the second last oval of the season, as the series now turns back to road and street courses, with Toronto up next.
2013 IndyCar Series Iowa Corn 250 Final Classification (250 laps):
|Driver||Entry / Team||Laps||Result|
|1.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||160||2:04:26.4178|
|2.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing||160||+ 0.4572|
|3.||Dario Franchitti||Chip Ganassi Racing||160||+ 1.1989|
|4.||Will Power||Team Penske||160||+ 5.6320|
|5.||Josef Newgarden||Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing||160||+ 7.1949|
|6.||Simon Pagenaud||SPH Racing||160||+ 9.4074|
|7.||Justin Wilson||Dale Coyne Racing||160||+ 13.3012|
|8.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||160||+ 13.9376|
|9.||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing||160||+ 15.5500|
|10.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||160||+ 18.4584|
|11.||Simona de Silvestro||KV Racing Technology||160||+ 32.0478|
|12.||James Jakes||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||160||+ 36.2536|
|13.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology||160||+ 41.5507|
|14.||Ryan Briscoe||Panther Racing||159||1 lap behind|
|15.||Pippa Mann||Dale Coyne Racing||159||1 lap behind|
|16.||Sébastien Bourdais||Dragon Racing||159||1 lap behind|
|17.||Alex Tagliani||Barracuda Racing||158||2 laps behind|
|18.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||158||2 laps behind|
|19.||Tristan Vautier||SPH Racing||158||2 laps behind|
|DNF.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||121||Not Classified|
|DNF.||E.J. Viso||Team Venzuela / Andretti||104||Not Classified|
|DNF.||Takuma Sato||AJ Foyt Enterprises||61||Accident|
|DNF.||Sebastián Saavedra||Dragon Racing||2||Mechanical|
|DNF.||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport||0||Accident|