IRL: Rossi keeps pressure on in championship with dominant victory at Pocono

For the second consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series race, Alexander Rossi put together a dominantly triumphant performance. On Sunday, he won the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway and made the season championship battle tighter in the process.

The race was delayed nearly two hours by a red-flag stoppage for track fencing repairs following a five-car incident on Lap 7. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver Robert Wickens sustained orthopedic injuries in the crash and was transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where he was being evaluated Sunday night. INDYCAR will provide additional medical updates as they are made available.

Rossi, driving the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda, led 180 of the 200 laps on the 2.5-mile triangular oval. He took the checkered flag 4.4982 seconds ahead of Team Penske's Will Power to collect his third win this season and second in as many races, on the heels of a July 29 triumph in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. The victory allowed Rossi to close within 29 points of championship leader Scott Dixon, who finished third in the race, with three races remaining on the schedule.

"The fact that we were able to (win the race) is just a testament to the car I had from Andretti Autosport, really the work that my teammate Zach Veach put in at the test here last week," Rossi said. "We were able to roll off instantly (to start the weekend) competitive and strong.

"It was a big team win from that standpoint and a great day for the NAPA AUTO PARTS Andretti crew. Great on pit stops, strategy, gave us the tools we needed to get it done today."

Starting from the pole for the 53rd time in his career, Power led the 22-car field to the green flag in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. The caution flag waved almost immediately when Graham Rahal ran into the back of Spencer Pigot as they reached the front straight. Pigot's No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy's Vodka careened into the inside wall between pit lane and the track to bring out the yellow flag.

The race restarted on Lap 6, with Rossi getting the jump on Power to take the lead into Turn 1. As the field reached Turn 2, Wickens' No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda made light contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay in the No. 28 DHL Honda. As they slid toward the SAFER Barrier on the outside wall, Wickens' car launched over the front of Hunter-Reay's car and into the catch fencing, where it spun violently before landing on the track.

"He had a run out of Turn 1," Hunter-Reay said of Wickens, "came up along the side of me, but I was in the draft of Power in front of me, so I started pulling ahead. Once we got to (Turn) 2, he was at my (left rear) corner at best.

"I even gave room. I left a lane; left a half of a lane, if not more. I was pretty shocked I got hit in the back. That is neither here nor there right now. We're just thinking about Robert. It's all very, very unfortunate."

Wickens was awake and alert when attended to by the AMR INDYCAR Safety Team and INDYCAR Medical staff. Hunter-Reay was uninjured. James Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato and Pietro Fittipaldi, whose cars were also collected in the incident, were likewise uninjured and eliminated from the race. The remaining cars running were ordered to pit lane and the race halted for 1 hour, 56 minutes to allow for repair of the catch fencing.

Following the restart on Lap 12, the race ran under green-flag conditions to the finish. The only time Rossi surrendered the lead was through pit stop cycles, as he drove on to his fifth career win and first on an oval since his breakthrough victory as a rookie in the 2016 Indianapolis 500. It also gave Andretti Autosport a second win at Pocono, the home track for team owner and Pennsylvania native Michael Andretti.

"It means a lot to win any race for Andretti Autosport," Rossi said. "They have such a legacy in the sport, to be able to add to that in a very small way is a huge honor of mine. Hopefully, I'll have the opportunity to do that a couple more times this year and we'll be able to close it out with a championship."

Dixon, in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, gained the most positions from start to finish (10) and notched his seventh podium finish of the season. The 38-year-old New Zealander is seeking his fifth Verizon IndyCar Series championship.

"Somewhat of a frustrating day," Dixon said. "Nice to get some points out of it. Obviously, we took a bit of a hit there with Rossi (winning). Congrats to him.

"The race was really difficult. (I) had lots of understeer, (so) we added tons of front wing to the car. Just about every stop, I think we added front wing, made multiple changes to try to get the thing to turn."

After 14 races, Dixon has accumulated 530 points to 501 for Rossi. Team Penske's Josef Newgarden, the reigning series champion who finished the race in fifth place, has 464 points. Power is fourth at 449 and Hunter-Reay fifth with 411.

The top 10 drivers remain mathematically alive for the championship heading to the next race, the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline at Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday, Aug. 25. The race airs live at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.  

ABC Supply 500 Driver Quotes:

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet):  "Yeah, it was just a tough day. We didn't have anything for anybody. We were scrapping to keep that top 5. That was the big thing for us. I was driving my butt off and I think the team was trying everything they could to help me and this was all we had. Will looked like he gave (Alexander) Rossi a good run for his money, which was great. It was just not enough. So we'll look at everything. It's always kind of tough right after this type of race. You don't have all the facts and you want to go back through the data and try to figure out what you can do better next time. So, that's what we'll do. But, I'm thankful that all the fans stuck around to watch this race. We'll work hard for these last three now."

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "Great to be racing here at Pocono; we had great support from the fans mainly from the ABC Supply family. We didn't have the fastest car - maybe top 10 but 11th place is OK. Looking forward to Gateway now. We'll try to maximize everything and get our first top 10 under our belts."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda):  "Yeah - not the race day we were hoping for. You know, I saw the accident happening in front of me. (Zach) Veach started sliding up, I tried to slow down and just kind of lost it in the fray. As I was going backward, I think Pietro (Fittipaldi) had nowhere to go and came into me. Other than that, there was a bunch of stuff going on, I'm not sure exactly what happened. I took my hands off the wheel when I went backward, and I think some piece of debris came in as I was holding them (my hands) in, kind of just smacked the top of them so I took a bit of a beating, but nothing is broken, just some swelling and some cuts. We'll rest it up and be fine. Obviously, I'm just hoping Robbie's (Robert Wickens) alright. Never good to see a car go up (into the fence) like that, but I know he is in good hands. Hopefully, we'll see him back in the car soon."

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "It was a tough race for everyone I think. Obviously, you never want to see an accident like that at the beginning. I'm glad there was some good news on that front and our thoughts and prayers are with Robert and his family. We made several adjustments to the car - taking wing and more wing. We got it to handle pretty well but congrats to Rossi and their team. They did a hell of a job and deserved to win it. I'm looking forward to coming back strong Saturday at St. Louis in the PNC Bank car."

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "We didn't really get a lot of practice time this weekend which limited the improvements we could make to the car. The start of the race was pretty crazy but we made it through. Obviously, we sat and waited for a while after the accident and it's great to hear the positive news on Robert. We picked up some damage and had to repair the car when we got going again. We went laps down after that and from there just tried to adjust the NTT DATA car the best we could to get the most out of it."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "I actually thought we'd be able to jump him again, but I got caught up with a lapped car coming out of the out lap and almost went to the wall, and came back; and then had a miss-shift on the out lap. It was just a terrible exchange altogether. I wasn't quite good enough in traffic. (Alexander) Rossi was very good running in traffic. We just had way too much push. So yeah, that's all we could do. The guys did a great strategy. We went long. That's how we jumped in but weren't quite good enough in traffic, but it was a great day for the Verizon guys."

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "It was a throttle sensor failure so I lost all power and unfortunately it's going to take 15-20minutes to change it. That's going to be so many laps down that we decided to park it. It's a shame. We were really looking forward to this race. We have a lot of ABC (Supply Co.) employees here supporting us. It's racing, sometimes you have one of those things. We haven't had a mechanical issue all year. That's unfortunate that it happened here. "[On the conditions] It was hard to pass, definitely. I mean, you can see right now nobody is passing anybody. It's pretty much spread out. It wasn't hard, it wasn't what we were used to racing close to each other like that. It's been pretty difficult. [unintelligible track noise] I think it's going to be a track position race today."

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Bobby Rahal Automotive Group Honda):  "Most importantly, I'm hoping for good news on Robbie. I'm sure he is a little banged up which we all would be in that situation.  I started racing against Robbie and Hinch when I was 10 years old. We've had a lot of good battles over the years and he's had an amazing year so I hope that his recovery will be extremely quick and he's back out here with us. It's a real shame about the start of the race because I think our car might have been better than Rossi's. It was a very good race car.  It's a shame but we can take a lot of positives out of this and move forward so I'm pretty pleased." 

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda): "I am just happy that Robbie's injuries are not life-threatening and the other guys are OK. That is the main thing. As for the race, it was a good day for the SealMaster Honda No. 18. It was a solid finish, fourth place. There were obviously some weird circumstances. It's tough to get your head back in the game, but we pulled through as we usually do. It was a solid effort by the whole team. I am really proud of the guys. It was a good day for us." 

PIETRO FITTIPALDI (No. 19 Paysafe Honda):  "I'm feeling great. I'm obviously a little sore from the impact but I'm 100 percent, no broken bones. Thankfully. I just saw a lot of smoke ahead, I was in the middle of the corner behind Ed (Jones), it was full of smoke and all I saw was that I was going to hit (James) Hinchcliffe head on, so I had to slam on the brakes and try to get low. When I did that, I think with the debris on track, the fluid, and the cold tires I just lost the rear of the car and then hit him sideways. There are three races left, so I am going to try and get some good results to finish off the season. I'm looking forward to Gateway."

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "It was a very long day! Early in the race, I thought we were going to be okay. We had the speed to run with the cars in front of us and were even close to leader pace. We lost some track position in the pits which didn't put us in a great spot. We tried to go off-strategy and pit outside of a fuel window, but with it staying green, we ended up having to run slow to save fuel the rest of the day. I don't think we had a winning car but I feel we had a borderline Top 5 car instead of just a Top 10 car. Unfortunately, it was just a long second half of the race with riding around to save fuel and try and stay out of the leaders' way."

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy's Vodka Chevrolet): "The guys did a great job getting the Fuzzy's Vodka car fixed. At the end of the day, there was really nothing else we could do in terms of improving our position and there was no need to risk anything else. That was always the plan, to go out and do a few laps and gain the positions we could. Unfortunately, our race was over before it began. The car had a lot of damage to the right rear and never felt quite right when we went back out. It's extremely disappointing, you come here wanting to continue some good momentum we've had the last handful of races, but we never got that shot. We'll have to look forward to Gateway next weekend and try to rebound there."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Pennzoil Team Penske Chevrolet):  "We got damaged in that first crash and we had to change the tow link which the guys did an amazing job - we didn't lose a lap. We restarted in the back, and it was very, very difficult to move forward.  I don't know if there was more damage under the car. We will check at the shop. I think that was the best we could do today with what we had. It was unfortunate without yellows.  Just not much we could do. I was so proud to drive the Shell Chevrolet Marketplace car.  It is what it is, we will go to Gateway to bounce back!

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet): "First off, my thoughts and prayers are with Robert (Wickens). I really hope he's OK and recovers quickly because he's been a huge addition to the series this year. Overall, the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet just fought all day. The guys did a great job on pit lane and they got me two stops on that last stop. I'm really proud of the effort the whole team has put in this weekend, especially with only running one hour worth of practice and going straight into qualifying and 500 miles with tough weather conditions. They gave me a car that was really solid to start with and we were able to bring home another top 10 for the team. We had a really good test at Gateway a few weeks ago, so I'm excited to get back out there next weekend and hopefully bring home another good result." 

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Group 1001 Honda): "I'm very satisfied with how our race today went. During the big crash in the beginning, it turned out that our front wing adjuster got ripped off the nose of the car. We started the race a little conservative on front wing, to get through the first stint. Our plan was to keep adding throughout the race, but we weren't able to so that kind of hurt us. We were stuck with that same front wing angle. As soon as I got close to cars, I struggled. We just needed a little more front wing which we couldn't put in. But, all-in-all, I'm pretty happy with our day. Hoping that Robert (Wickens) is OK.  We're all thinking of him."

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): "We came out in some traffic and it was really hard to be behind cars for some reason today. The No. 27 Napa Auto Parts Honda was better than everyone else so it was an exceptional day but right now Rob (Wickens) and James (Hinchcliffe) and Ryan (Hunter-Reay) and everyone involved in that incident have our thoughts. It's tough to really celebrate after what happened. It's the team. I have amazing teammates. Speaking of teammates, Zach (Veach) and Marco (Andretti) really helped me there in traffic so I owe them a beer or a case of beer. It's just been leaning on Ryan (Hunter- Reay?) and Michael (Andretti?) and Bryan (Herta?) ever since day one to help me overcome the challenge that is superspeedways. You can't do any of this without an amazing team, so I am very thankful to be on Andretti Autosport and have this great group of people. It's a special day today. (Can you win the championship?): "We're going to try. We're executing like we need to do on Sundays and we'll do everything we can to keep that rolling. There's no time to rest now as we're in Gateway in five or six days."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "I'm OK. I'm just thinking about Robert (Wickens) right now. I haven't had any information yet. They're just waiting for him to come back to the medical center. It's unfortunate in the first half of the race. I just hope Robert is alright. [I'm] just lucky to get out of that one." (Did you know Wickens was alongside?): "Well yeah, he had a run out of Turn 1, came up along the side of me, but I was in the draft of (Will) Power in front of me so I started pulling ahead. Once we got to (Turn) 2 he was at my corner at best. I mean barely there. It was one of those corners you're not up alongside, you know...its...yeah. The first lap of the race. I mean I thought, at that point, I had got to him, cleared him. I even gave room. I left a lane; left a half of a lane, if not more. I've gotta look at it again. I was pretty shocked I got hit in the back. That is neither here nor there right now - we're just thinking about Robert. It's all very very unfortunate."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): "I saw Ryan Hunter-Reay's car hit the wall and I immediately backed off but I was covered by oil, my helmet and my car, and there was nothing I could do.  I just went straight into the wall. There were obviously a lot of cars involved and it's a pity it happened in a 500-mile race. Right now I'm just worried about other drivers that are injured. When you are side-by-side, drivers get adrenaline and want to go faster but the problem was in Turn 2, it used to be just a kink; it's nothing, you could go flat side-by-side. But now, with the less downforce, it's really bumpy and you've got to be really careful with that. I was side-by-side with Bourdais into the corner and I backed off and braked but in front, unfortunately, Robert and Ryan made contact and that was nothing we could control."

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): Max Chilton, No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet: "That definitely felt like a 500-mile race, especially with that time delay. Obviously, my thoughts are with Robert after the earlier accident, which shook everyone up a bit. I think it was a good thing that we were able to put on a bit of a show for the fans though, although it probably wasn't the most exciting race. Good job by the safety crews to get the fence repaired in time to allow us to race today. I felt like at times we were quick and during some stints, we struggled a bit when I had to let the leaders by, but I tried to make the most of what we had. It's another 500-mile race under the team's belt and essential experience at a track the team has never been to before. We've tested at Gateway before so we're aiming to get the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet nearer the front next weekend."

CONOR DALY (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet): "It was obviously a tough day for us. We had to go into the race with almost no track time, so it was a big guess. At every stop, we put in a lot of front wing. We just kept trying to adjust, but still just struggled with the front of the car. I think by ourselves our pace was good, and we were maintaining a decent spot for where we were on track. I had one chance to pass someone for position and went for it with Ed, but I had no front grip at all and then clipped it. It's a shame. You hate to end your day like that, thankfully the car wasn't badly damaged, just small stuff. I would love another shot at it because I think there are some positives to our car and some positives to what we have, I just don't think we had enough time to evaluate everything."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda):  "I think we made a good gamble to pit early. We came out and we were flying, and we leap-frogged everybody... and it figures we'd go 480 miles with no yellow, so we ended up right back where we started. But, we went for it and all we needed was a little help to be on the podium, but we had to save [fuel] for most of the race. Coming away with a 100th top-10, but wish it was a win. We're on to Gateway next weekend but sending good thoughts tonight to Robbie [Wickens]."

ABC Supply 500 race results
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, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (3) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 200, Running

2. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 200, Running

3. (13) Scott Dixon, Honda, 200, Running

4. (8) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 200, Running

5. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 199, Running

6. (7) Zach Veach, Honda, 199, Running

7. (11) Marco Andretti, Honda, 199, Running

8. (5) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 199, Running

9. (19) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 198, Running

10. (15) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 197, Running

11. (20) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 197, Running

12. (12) Ed Jones, Honda, 197, Running

13. (21) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 196, Running

14. (18) Graham Rahal, Honda, 196, Running

15. (22) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 162, Contact                                                                     

16. (16) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 17, Contact                                                                       

17. (14) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 16, Mechanical                                                               

18. (4) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 6, Contact                                                                     

19. (6) Robert Wickens, Honda, 6, Contact 

20. (9) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 6, Contact

21. (10) Takuma Sato, Honda, 6, Contact

22. (17) Pietro Fittipaldi, Honda, 6, Contact 

Race Statistics

Winner's average speed:  191.304 mph