LONG POND, PA – For the second straight year, a wild frightening accident occurred at the beginning of the NTT IndyCar Series race at the Pocono Raceway. Last year, it was Robert Wickens and Ryan Hunter-Reay making contact on Lap 6 of the ABC Supply 500. Wickens’ car got airborne and actually went over top of Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 Honda and into the catch fencing. Unfortunately, it left Wickens a paraplegic. Three years earlier, Justin Wilson was tragically killed in a freak accident when Sage Karam’s nose cone hit him in his helmet on Lap 180 of the 200 lap race.
On Sunday, Takuma Sato made a mistake in trying to put his car where it didn’t belong. Sato, got into Alexander Rossi which knocked out the steering of Rossi’s car. Sato, then spun into Hunter-Reay which saw both spin back up the track and into on coming traffic.
James Hinchcliffe and Felix Rosenqvist got into them which sent Rosenqvist airborne too. He went towards the catch fencing but luckily just grazed it.
Throw in Charlie Kimball getting into the fence in Turn 3 during a qualifying run a few years ago and Hunter-Reay also having a qualifying crash at the exit of Turn 3 which sparked an impact in excess of 100 g’s and you get a lot of freakish crashes in a short time frame.
When is enough enough?
Scott Dixon though doesn’t think it’s Pocono’s fault necessarily. He thinks these are all freak instances.
“Honestly I feel bad for Pocono,” the second place finisher said.” The group of people here that work, they work extremely hard. I felt the crowd today at the start of the race was fantastic. It was gaining some really good momentum. Hopefully it does continue.
“But down to weather, some mistakes that have happened on track, honestly they could happen anywhere, if you look at Justin or Robby, those can happen anywhere. I feel bad that it gets a bit of a bad taste in that scenario. I think the drivers in a lot of situations can do a better job to help that situation.
“Honestly, I hope we come back. I just want to say a big thank you to everybody here at Pocono, the fans and everybody that come out, because it’s definitely a tough place. Will can tell you how rewarding it is to win here just because it is so difficult to get it right.
Power, agree with Dixon’s sentiments.
“It’s a great oval for us,” Power said after winning on the Tricky Triangle for the third time in four years. “Obviously some unfortunate accidents here, like Scott said, that could happen anywhere. Kind of got a bad rap for that.
“The crowd is up 15% every year we come back. It’s getting better. Like Scott said, the crowd was great today. It’s a good racetrack, man. A good track for racing. I really hope we come back, I do. I think the guys do a great job. A cool track for us. It’s hard for us to find good ovals these days that suit our cars.”
Indy 500 champion Simon Pagenaud added to that that he feels it’s real unfortunate to see these incidents and to have a track that may not be back in 2019 due to its proximity to major cities.
“It is a fun track to drive on,” the third place finisher said. “Real unfortunate, close to New York, a great market for INDYCAR. It’s an opportunity to bring people from New York to the Indy car races. Really enjoy that.
“I love personally superspeedways. I think it’s been the best, like they said. Obviously when you’re traveling at such high speed, you know a crash is going to be a big crash. Hopefully we can come back and hopefully we can keep working with people at Pocono because it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve been racing here since 2012 in the series. I’ve enjoyed it more and more every year. So we’ll see what happens next.
“As a driver, I really enjoy coming here.”
The reason this is even being brought up further is because the series’ contract with Pocono ran out at seasons end. Plus, the entitlement sponsorship deal with ABC Supply has ran out too. With so many freak incidents over the year, is the risk vs. reward enough to come back?