The Verizon IndyCar Series heads to Pocono Raceway this weekend for the Pocono INDYCAR 500. Double points are on the line which should have a drastic effect on the championship standings by the end of the weekend.
- Can Marco Andretti capitalize on his big oval speed? Marco Andretti has undoubtedly been the fastest driver on the circuit in qualifying and the first half of races on big ovals in the Verizon IndyCar Series over the last couple years but has yet to parlay that into a win. For the most part that hasn’t been through any major fault of his own as bad fuel strategy, slow pit stops, and fading 2nd half speed have eliminated him from even contending for a win but that needs to change this weekend if Marco is to get back into the title race. Andretti was the pole sitter and dominated the first half of this race last year before getting off sequence and eventually running out of fuel at the end of the race. The Andretti Autosport driver and his team need to put a complete race together on Sunday.
- What will “double points” do to the championship picture this weekend? Simon Pagenaud’s Race 2 win at Houston, combined with a late suspension issue for points-leader Will Power, vaulted the Frenchman right back into contention for the championship. However, the double points being awarded at Sunday’s 500 mile race could be a problem for Pagenaud as attempts to catch up with three much more accomplished oval drivers in Power, Helio Castroneves, and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Simon needs to at least put up a respectable finish to stay within reach of the top 3.
- Can CGR post strong results after last year’s Pocono sweep? Last weekend in Houston Chip Ganassi’s drivers all talked about the increased speed they’ve found over the past few weeks but that bad luck is still holding them back. Pocono would seem like the place to be for this team to turn it around after the team swept the podium places at last year’s race. Even with the great parity in this series there’s no reason this well funded team featuring three drivers that won in 2013 and a proven driver in Ryan Briscoe should be struggling like this. This whole operation is due for a turnaround this weekend.
- What is the future of INDYCAR at Pocono? There is a year left on the contract between Pocono Raceway and INDYCAR for the 2015 season but track president Brandon Igdalsky has made it very clear publicly this week that ticket sales have not been what the track expects. “The big thing is the fans,” Igdalsky told The Associated Press. “The fans begged us to bring it back. Every study and report we did, they all said they’d come. But they’re not coming in the numbers we need them to come in. Are these fans really here? In Pennsylvania? In the Andrettis’ backyard? Why aren’t they coming out? Where are they?” Igdalsky says he will talk to Mark Miles this weekend about the issue and that wouldn’t seem to bode well for INDYCAR returning. Hopefully for both parties’ sake his comments will spur local fans to come enjoy the race on what should be a beautiful day on Sunday.
– Dylan Reynolds, The Open Wheel