AUTO RACING: Drama in Pocono |

AUTO RACING: Drama in Pocono

Submitted to The Union

IndyCar Points Leaders

1. Josef Newgarden, 535

2. Alexander Rossi, 500

3. Simon Pagenaud, 495

4. Scott Dixon, 483

5. Will Power, 407

6. Ryan Hunter-Reay, 344

7. Graham Rahal, 334

8. Takuma Sato, 331

9. Felix Rosenqvist, 304

10. Sebastien Bourdais, 300

— Associated Press

As the green flag fell at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, drama quickly followed.

Rain had canceled qualifying on Saturday and the field of 22 lined up on Championship points. This gave Alexander Rossi, a Nevada City native, a front row starting position next to points leader Josef Newgarden.

With a rough start, Rossi lost two positions before making it to Turn 1 and headed into the second turn three-wide between teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay and Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver, Takuma Sato. Sato moved left into Rossi and across the nose of Hunter-Reay. As the entangled cars shot down the track and back up to the wall, additional cars were collected, including James Hinchcliffe and Felix Rosenqvist. The dangerous move by Sato ended the race for Rosenqvist, who was transported to the hospital for evaluation (and released). The incident brought out the first of two Red Flags in the 200-lap race.

“Obviously, I didn’t get a good start — so that’s on me,” said Rossi. “But we were three wide; Ryan was on the inside, I was in the middle and Takuma was on the outside. I can’t even begin to understand how after last year Takuma thinks that any sort of driving like that is acceptable. To turn across two cars, at that speed, in that corner at a 500-mile race is disgraceful, upsetting and may have cost us a championship. It’s upsetting. This team works too hard to have something like that happen.”

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Needing to capture valuable championship points, Rossi’s NAPA AutoCare crew quickly went to work to get his No. 27 Honda back on track. By Lap 88, the M2M team had served its 10-lap penalty for working on the car under red conditions and was back on track. After one pit stop, Rossi was able to jump Hunter-Reay and Hinchcliffe who had both repaired their cars.

One lap shy of gaining another position over Spencer Pigot, inclement weather in the area drew the final red flag of the event. Once the rain began to fall, the checkered flag was waved, ending the race on Lap 128. Rossi finished the day 18th and collected 12 points toward the championship, leaving him second in the standings and 35 points behind Newgarden. Team Penske’s Will Power was the race winner.

“The whole team worked tirelessly to get the 27 car back on track,” said Rossi. “Once we got out there, the car just didn’t have the handling we needed so we held on to make up as many points as we could. Unfortunately, the weather came, and the race was called one lap before we could gain another spot. We have a couple days to rebound and go for race wins now — that’s all that matters.”

The NTT IndyCar Series gets back to racing this week with the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. The 248-lap race is Saturday with NBCSN’s coverage beginning at 5 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 5:45 p.m., with the INDYCAR Radio Network available on all affiliates plus XM 209, Sirius 98 and Internet/App 970.

This article was submitted to The Union by Alexander Rossi Media.

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