Hunter-Reay Wins Pocono; Wilson In Bad Wreck

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 23 2015
Ryan Hunter-Reay won at Pocono on Sunday. His celebration, however, was muted by a wreck involving teammate Justin Wilson. (INDYCAR/LAT USA file photo)

Ryan Hunter-Reay won at Pocono on Sunday. His celebration, however, was muted by a wreck involving teammate Justin Wilson. (INDYCAR/LAT USA file photo)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Ryan Hunter-Reay won Sunday’s IndyCar Series race at Pocono Speedway, Juan Pablo Montoya stretched his points lead well into the fairly comfortably zone and Honda engines continued to show good power.

bugindycarBut after the race, very few people in the paddocks were in a celebratory mood because of uncertainty about the condition of Andretti driver Justin Wilson, who was airlifted from the track after having been struck in the head by debris late in the 500-mile race.

At 9 p.m., INDYCAR issued the following statement: Verizon IndyCar Series driver Justin Wilson sustained a severe head injury during today’s event at Pocono Raceway. Wilson is currently in a coma and in critical condition while undergoing further evaluation at Lehigh Valley Health Network Cedar Crest Hospital in Allentown, Pa.

The victory was the second of the season for Hunter-Reay and his Andretti Autosport team – the other came at Iowa Speedway. And an impressive victory it was, too, as the former IndyCar champion and former Indianapolis 500 winner had to come through the field a couple of times in his Honda to get it.

“We came through the field several times and the team gave me what we needed,” said Hunter-Reay, who overtook rookie Gabby Chaves on Lap 196 in Turn 1. “This team has given my great race cars over the years and this was one of them. I hope the fans enjoyed the show because it was fun in the race car.”

The victory came under caution.

Then there was Montoya, who finished third. The Team Penske driver started Pocono – the second to last race of the season – with a nine-point lead over Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan.

Rahal, however, was crashed out of the race by a very risky move on the part of Tristan Vautier, and Montoya left Pennsylvania with a 34 point lead and only next weekend’s race at Sonoma left on the schedule.

“We took our time and were smart. I think we had a car that could win the race, but it wasn’t worth risking it (with title contenders running behind him). We did what we needed to do today,” Montoya said.

“We ran a smart race. It’s tough, you know. Sometimes you’re racing somebody and you get all excited and you kind of forget why you’re here and what you need to be doing – that it’s a 500-mile race. I gained places where I could gain places. Then when I couldn’t, I was like, ‘OK, let’s save some fuel.’ I think that really helped one of the stops right before the caution. It was really good. We’re all just thinking about Justin (Wilson) right now.”

Rahal sounded none too happy with Vautier.

“Obviously I’m frustrated,” he said. “We had a pretty good race car today. It was slow initially but we were working on it and we got it pretty good. Then we had an issue in the pits that lost us a bunch of spots so we were trying to work our way back up.  Vautier is not known as the smartest guy and you see why.

“This one hurts. One race to go and this puts a big, big dent in things. Wilson and I were coming through Turn 2. There were a lot of guys driving pretty aggressively and Wilson lost momentum and I just stuck it inside of him and we ran from (turn) two down to three together and then Vautier just decided that he wanted to join the party there at the last moment and unfortunately just punted us. He says I turned in on him but there’s not any space. We’re already two wide, he knows that, he sees that.  It just hurts us. As I said to him ‘You know I’m in the championship hunt for Honda. Why would you do something like that?’ He has no answers.”

Ten drivers started Sunday’s race with mathematical chances to win the title; six will start Sonoma with chances.

The incident involving Wilson, who was driving an Andretti Autosport Honda, began when Sage Karem wrecked and the nose piece of his car came free and hit Wilson in the head.

This story will be updated when more is known about the extent of Wilson’s injuries.

LONG POND, Pa.- Results Sunday of the ABC Supply 500 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (8) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 200, Running
2. (4) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 200, Running
3. (19) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 200, Running
4. (3) Will Power, Chevrolet, 200, Running
5. (6) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 200, Running
6. (9) Takuma Sato, Honda, 200, Running
7. (2) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 200, Running
8. (18) Ryan Briscoe, Honda, 200, Running
9. (11) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 200, Running
10. (15) James Jakes, Honda, 200, Running
11. (16) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 197, Mechanical
12. (23) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 193, Mechanical
13. (17) Pippa Mann, Honda, 185, Running
14. (20) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 179, Contact
15. (7) Justin Wilson, Honda, 179, Contact
16. (1) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 166, Contact
17. (21) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 156, Mechanical
18. (22) Marco Andretti, Honda, 138, Contact
19. (12) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 131, Contact
20. (5) Graham Rahal, Honda, 92, Contact
21. (13) Tristan Vautier, Honda, 92, Contact
22. (14) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 82, Contact
23. (10) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 36, Contact
24. (24) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 19, Mechanical

Race Statistics
Winners average speed:
Time of Race: 03:25:08.1095
Margin of victory: Under Caution
Cautions: 12 for 74 laps
Lead changes: 33 among 12 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Castroneves 1-2
Newgarden 3-27
Pagenaud 28-32
Newgarden 33-54
Kanaan 55-64
Hunter-Reay 65
Pagenaud 66-68
Castroneves 69-71
Pagenaud 72-78
Castroneves 79-92
Kanaan 93-103
Pagenaud 104
Karam 105-106
Pagenaud 107
Castroneves 108-109
Chaves 110-114
Power 115-116
Chaves 117
Castroneves 118-120
Chaves 121-127
Hunter-Reay 128-134
Kimball 135
Chaves 136-138
Pagenaud 139-151
Hunter-Reay 152-164
Briscoe 165-167
Wilson 168-169
Hunter-Reay 170-172
Sato 173-174
Karam 175-176
Chaves 180-192
Sato 193
Chaves 194-195
Hunter-Reay 196-200

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Montoya 500, Rahal 466, Dixon 453, Power 439, Castroneves 423, Newgarden 413, Andretti 390, Bourdais 386, Kanaan 366, Pagenaud 356.

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, August 23 2015
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