Power Wins At Pocono; IndyCar's Future At The Raceway In Doubt
LONG POND, Penn. -- There was a sour taste left in the mouths of both IndyCar drivers and fans after Sunday's race at Pocono.
The only person tasting something sweet was Will Power. The Team Penske driver, who has struggled all season long, was finally able to notch a win in the rain shortened race. It keeps a personal streak of his alive. Power has won at least one race in each of the last thirteen IndyCar seasons.
"Over the moon man," Power said. "Had a few issues during the race, but we just kept coming back. Full credit to the team. Great car, just hung there and saved fuel and when it was time to go I went."
Power was running first when the race was stopped because of lightning that was spotted within a seven-mile radius of the track, per IndyCar rules. Having run 121 of the race's 200 scheduled laps, the race was called.
The outcome means Power is back in moderate contention for the IndyCar Series championship, now 126-points behind point-leader and teammate Josef Newgarden. All three Penske drivers in Power, Newgarden, and Simon Pagenaud are in the top five of the points.
Power's win would be overshadowed, not by what happened at the end of the race, but at the beginning. On the race's opening lap, a bad crash happened crippling a few drivers' cars and even ending the day for others.
The crash happened has the field enter the Turn 2, better known as the "tunnel turn." Takuma Sato drove aggressively on the outside of Alexander Rossi, who started on the front row, and cut below Scott Dixon but clipped Rossi's front wing. That sent Sato sideways into car's below him and eventually upside down on top of Ryan Hunter-Reay. It also sent Felix Rosenqvist partially into the catch fence. He was able to walk away from the crash but was taken to the hospital to be checked out afterwards.
The wreck forced a red flag so the catch fence should be repaired.
Rossi, who is second in the points, said there was no need for Sato to be driving that aggressively that early in a 500-mile race.
"I can't even begin to understand how after last year Takuma thinks any sort of driving like that is acceptable," Rossi said outside the infield car center. "To turn across two cars, at that speed, in that corner, in a 500-mile race is disgraceful and upsetting."
Last year, a bad wreck in Turn 1 of the same race at Pocono sent Robert Wickens' car into the catch fence. The wreck paralyzed Wickens from the waste down and is recovering -- a process that he documents well on his various social media accounts.
"How many times do we have to go through the same situation before we can all accept that an IndyCar should not race at Pocono," Wickens said on Twitter. "It’s just a toxic relationship and maybe it’s time to consider a divorce. I’m very relieved (to my knowledge) that everyone is okay from that scary crash."
"It sucks," said Wickens' teammate James Hinchcliffe. "It's a 500-mile race man. I don't know how many times we have to do this before people figure out that you can attack all you want, but it doesn't give you a chance to win if you're in the fence."
That divorce Wickens' spoke of is becoming more apparent after Sunday's race. IndyCar has one race left on the it's contract with Pocono scheduled for next year in a rare double-header event in which IndyCar will run the Saturday before NASCAR's summer race at Pocono on Sunday that same weekend.
NBC Sports reported before Saturday's race that IndyCar and Pocono have not spoken at all about renewing their contract.
(PHOTO: Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)