Pocono IndyCar 500

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Pocono INDYCAR 500 fueled by Sunoco
Verizon IndyCar Series
Venue Pocono Raceway
First race 1971
First ICS race 2013
Distance 500 mi (800 km)
Laps 200
Previous names Schaefer 500 (1971-1978)
Music 500 at Pocono presented
by Musicland/Sam Goody
(1979)
True Value 500 (1980)
Van Scoy Diamond Mine 500 (1981)
Domino's Pizza Pocono 500 (1982)
Domino's Pizza 500 (1983-1986)
Quaker State 500 (1987-1988)
Pocono 500 (1989)
Pocono IndyCar 400 Fueled by Sunoco (2013)
Most wins (driver) A. J. Foyt (4)
Most wins (team) Team Penske (8)

The Pocono INDYCAR 500 Fueled by Sunoco is an Indy car race held at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. The race was sanctioned by USAC from 1971–1981, and then by CART from 1982–1989, and was known as the Pocono 500. The race was removed from the CART calendar following the 1989 running, due to poor track conditions, as well as poor revenue for the promoter.

After a 23-year hiatus, the event was successfully revived by the IndyCar Series in 2013. Following management changes at the facility, and after a comprehensive safety improvements were completed at the track, the race was scheduled for Independence Day weekend. For 2013, the race was scheduled for 400 miles, and was part of the Fuzzy's Premium Vodka "Triple Crown". For 2014, the race returned to its traditional 500-mile distance.

The 2014 race, won by Juan Pablo Montoya, stands as the fastest 500-mile race in Indy car history.[1] At an average speed of 202.402 mph (325.734 km/h), it was the first 500-mile race (whether Indycar or NASCAR) to be completed in under 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Race history[edit]

USAC[edit]

The Pocono 500 began in 1971, as part of the USAC National Championship Trail. It was part of USAC's "triple crown", consisting of the Indianapolis 500, Pocono 500, and California 500. The race was popular, and the unique track layout was said to have been designed specifically with Champ/Indy cars in mind.

USAC sanctioned the event through 1981.

CART[edit]

After organizational changes following the first USAC/CART "split," the Pocono 500 switched to the CART series beginning in 1982. The race moved from June to August after the track added a second NASCAR Winston Cup Series race to their schedule. Moving to August allowed the race to be distanced from Indianapolis, and was set two to three weeks after the Michigan 500, giving teams more preparation time between 500-mile races.

The increasingly rough condition of the course made the race demanding, and sometimes led to high attrition and surprise winners.

Following the 1989 event, the track was officially deemed too rough and unsuitable for Indycars. The circuit still had boilerplate retaining walls, lacked catch fencing around the entire perimeter, lacked runoff areas, and was criticized for its roughness. The Pocono 500 was removed from the schedule indefinitely, as neither track management nor series officials were interested in reviving the event.

Though the track safety conditions were the stated reason, track management also believed the event to be a money-loser for the facility.

INDYCAR[edit]

During both 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, heavy crashes on the Long Pond Straight sent circuit management to call for significant safety improvements to the track. SAFER barriers were added to inside walls, catch fencing was installed around the entire perimeter, paved runoff areas were built around the majority of the infield. The safety upgrades, as well as changes announced by the third-generation Igdalsky family (including repaving the circuit with new concrete pit stalls), led to discussions with Indy Racing League officials regarding the revival of the Pocono IndyCar race.

Speculation ran rampant in 2012 after the cancellation of the Indy Qingdao 600 that Pocono could have been used as a last-minute substitute. However, nothing materialized. On October 1, 2012, the track officially announced they would host the Pocono INDYCAR 400 for the IndyCar Series on July 4 weekend starting in 2013. The change in race distance was requested by ESPN on ABC, the broadcaster of the race, so it would fit into the programming time they had allotted for it. However, the Igdalsky family had shortened both NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 2012 after assuming control of the circuit, so the result was the three major race weekends each featured a 400-mile race[2] For 2014, the series announced the race would be returning to 500 miles, as part of the Indycar Triple Crown, including the Indy 500 and MAVTV 500 in Fontana which also would be 500 mile oval races. The three events would award drivers double the points of other races, possibly to balance the relatively few oval races in the season (six out of eighteen total races).[3]

Past winners[edit]

Season Date Driver Team Chassis Engine Race Distance Race Time Average Speed
(mph)
Report
Laps Miles (km)
USAC Championship Car
1971 July 3 United States Mark Donohue Penske Racing McLaren Offy 200 500 (804.672) 3:36:22 138.649 Report
1972 July 29 United States Joe Leonard Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing Parnelli Offy 200 500 (804.672) 154.781 Report
1973 July 1 United States A. J. Foyt A. J. Foyt Enterprises Coyote Foyt 200 500 (804.672) 3:26:58 144.948 Report
1974 June 30 United States Johnny Rutherford Bruce McLaren Motor Racing McLaren Offy 200 500 (804.672) 3:11:27 156.701 Report
1975 June 29 United States A. J. Foyt A. J. Foyt Enterprises Coyote Foyt 170* 425 (683.971) 3:01:13 140.712 Report
1976 June 27 United States Al Unser Vel's Parnelli Jones Racing Parnelli Cosworth 200 500 (804.672) 3:28:53 143.622 Report
1977 June 26 United States Tom Sneva Penske Racing McLaren Cosworth 200 500 (804.672) 3:17:12 152.931 Report
1978 June 25 United States Al Unser Chaparral Cars Chaparral Cosworth 200 500 (804.672) 3:30:53 142.261 Report
1979 June 24 United States A. J. Foyt A. J. Foyt Enterprises Parnelli Cosworth 200 500 (804.672) 3:42:14 134.995 Report
1980 June 22 United States Bobby Unser Penske Racing Penske Cosworth 200 500 (804.672) 3:18:04 151.454 Report
1981-82 June 14, 1981 United States A. J. Foyt A. J. Foyt Enterprises March Cosworth 122* 305 (490.849) 2:13:23 137.196 Report
CART PPG Indy Car World Series
1982 August 15 United States Rick Mears Penske Racing Penske Cosworth 200 500 (804.672) 3:25:39 145.879 Report
1983 August 14 Italy Teo Fabi Forsythe Racing March Cosworth 200 500 (804.672) 3:42:28 134.852 Report
1984 August 19 United States Danny Sullivan Doug Shierson Racing Lola Cosworth 200 500 (804.672) 3:38:29 137.303 Report
1985 August 18 United States Rick Mears Penske Racing March Cosworth 200 500 (804.672) 3:17:47 151.676 Report
1986 August 17 United States Mario Andretti Newman/Haas Racing Lola Cosworth 200 500 (804.672) 3:17:13 152.106 Report
1987 August 16 United States Rick Mears Penske Racing March Chevrolet-Ilmor 200 500 (804.672) 3:11:50 156.373 Report
1988 August 21 United States Bobby Rahal Truesports Lola Judd 200 500 (804.672) 3:44:21 133.713 Report
1989 August 20 United States Danny Sullivan Penske Racing Penske Chevrolet-Ilmor 200 500 (804.672) 2:55:43 170.720 Report
1990

2012
Not held
Verizon IndyCar Series
2013 July 7 New Zealand Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara DW12 Honda 160 400 (643.738) 2:04:26 192.864 Report
2014 July 6 Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya Team Penske Dallara DW12 Chevrolet 200 500 (804.672) 2:28:13 202.402 Report
  • 1975 & 1981: Race shortened due to rain.

Indy Lights[edit]

Season Date Driver Chassis Engine Race Distance Race Time Average Speed
(mph)
Laps Miles (km)
1986 August 16 United States Jeff Andretti March Buick 40 100 (160.934) 0:40:52 146.812
1987 August 16 Republic of Ireland Tommy Byrne March Buick 40 100 (160.934) 0:35:34 168.7
1988 August 20 United States Michael Greenfield March Buick 40 100 (160.934) 0:45:45 131.137
1989 August 20* Republic of Ireland Tommy Byrne March Buick 28 70 (112.654) 0:34:17 122.512
1990

2012
Not held
2013 July 6 Colombia Carlos Muñoz Dallara Infiniti 40 100 (160.934) 0:32:47 182.948
2014 July 5 Colombia Gabby Chaves Dallara Infiniti 40 100 (160.934) 0:36:53 162.7
  • 1989: Race postponed due to rain.

Selected race summaries[edit]

  • 1971: Mark Donohue wins the inaugural USAC Pocono 500. NASCAR Grand National regulars Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough finish 28th and 32nd respectively.
  • 1972: The second annual Pocono 500 is scheduled for late June/early July, however, Hurricane Agnes sweeps through the eastern United States, and forces postponement. The race is rescheduled for July 29, as part of a USAC Indycar/USAC Stock Car 500-mile doubleheader weekend. Joe Leonard won the Schaefer 500 while Roger McCluskey drove a Plymouth Superbird to win the Pennsylvania 500 stock car race.
  • 1973: A. J. Foyt passes Roger McCluskey on the final lap to take the victory. McCluskey gambled with a half-lap lead and ran out of fuel on the Long Pond straight; while Foyt did a splash-and-go with four laps remaining.
  • 1976: Al Unser, Sr. drove to victory, the first for the turbochargered Cosworth engine.
  • 1978: Al Unser, Sr. won USAC's Triple Crown of 500-mile races (Indianapolis 500, Pocono 500, and California 500).
  • 1981: In the height of the USAC/CART split, A. J. Foyt wins the USAC Van Scoy Diamond Mines 500. This is the final Indycar race USAC sanctioned at Pocono and Foyt's final Indycar win. Many CART regulars boycotted the race, therefore, USAC opened the field to both Gold Crown cars and Silver Crown cars. A rag-tag field of Indycars and converted dirt-track cars ran a two-class race. Rain halted the race shortly after the halfway point, and ended the race early.[4]
  • 1983: Rookies Teo Fabi and Al Unser, Jr. combined to lead 143 of the 200 laps, and emerged as the only two contenders late in the race. During his final pit stop on lap 178, Unser, Jr. nearly stalled, and handling problems slowed his pace. Fabi, who raised eyebrows by winning the pole at Indy, cruised to victory.
  • 1984: An exciting three-car battle to the finish between Rick Mears, Bobby Rahal, and Danny Sullivan. With the three cars running nose-to-tail on lap 194, Rahal passed Mears going into turn one to take the lead. Down the Long Pond straight, Sullivan slips by Mears as well, and sets his sights on Rahal. In turn two, Sullivan blows by Rahal, and pulls out to a sizable lead. Heavy traffic on the final lap allowed Mears to close up, but Sullivan held off the challenge at the checked flag the win. Rahal finishes third, blowing his engine as he crossed the finish line.
  • 1985: Rick Mears completes a comeback from his devastating leg injuries suffered at Sanair in 1984 by winning the Pocono 500 in a part-time entry for Penske Racing.
  • 1986: Mario Andretti and Bobby Rahal battled for the lead in the late stages of the race. On lap 174, Rahal suddenly pulled to the inside with an engine fire, leaving Andretti all alone in the lead. Andretti cruised over the final 26 laps, beating second place Kevin Cogan by over a lap.
  • 1987: Mario Andretti led 22 laps, but gets too low in turn one on lap 89, and crashed hard into the outside wall. He suffers a separated shoulder. The rough apron of turn one was stained by lime, which caused Andretti's car to lose traction[5] Rick Mears wins, and Geoff Brabham finished second, the best finish yet for the new Brabham-Honda/Judd engine.
  • 1988: The race was slowed 11 times for 65 laps, including six wrecks. Rookie John Andretti suffered a serious wreck with 18 laps to go near the pit exit. Most of the contenders dropped out, leaving Bobby Rahal in the lead for the final 28 laps, scoring Judd's first and only IndyCar victory, and Rahal's last with Truesports.
  • 1989: Emerson Fittipaldi sets a new all-time track record during qualifying, with a pole speed of 211.715 mph. Danny Sullivan holds off his Penske teammate Rick Mears to win the final CART series race at Pocono. Track owner Joe Mattioli vowed that single-seater racing would never return to his circuit, a vow that ended after his death in 2012.
  • 2013: The Igdalsky family, third-generation family members who took over the circuit after Joe Mattioli's death, visit an IZOD IndyCar Series race in 2012, and by the end of the season announced a revival of the race, with a distance scheduled as 400 miles. Pennsylvania native Chip Ganassi's team, Chip Ganassi Racing, sweeps the podium with Scott Dixon winning, Charlie Kimball second, and Dario Franchitti third. The average speed of 192.864 mph is a Pocono Raceway record, slowed by only two brief caution periods.
  • 2014: Juan Pablo Montoya won the fastest 500 mile race in Indy car history. At an average speed of 202.402 mph, it was the first 500 mile race to average over 200 mph, and was slowed by only one caution for six laps. Montoya's victory capped off his return to the American open wheel circuit after spending the previous 13 season in Formula One and NASCAR.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Estrada, Chris (July 6, 2014). "Today’s race at Pocono was fastest 500-miler in IndyCar history". NBC Sports. Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  2. ^ ABC only wanted 400 miles of IndyCar at Pocono Keith Groller, The Morning Call, October 02, 2012
  3. ^ Series makes changes to 2014 points system Crash.net, March 21, 2014.
  4. ^ 1981 Pocono 500 Photo Page
  5. ^ Bob Kourtakis (August 17, 1987). "Andrettis Glad This Race Day Is History Pocono Quaker State 500". The Morning Call. Retrieved November 21, 2012.