Overheard at Pocono - Sunday (Update) UPDATE As we rumored yesterday below, Mike Conway has been confirmed for the Dale Coyne ride in Toronto and Houston (Announcement)
The crowd Sunday was estimated to be about 40,000. Not only were the huge NASCARsized grandstands fuller than we expected, the huge infield had at least 10,000 people in it. Certainly have Andretti on the pole and the good weather helped the walkup crowd. Rumor has it their business plan for this race was a minimum of 25,000 attendance, so 40,000 ensures this race will continue, hopefully for many years to come. The current deal is two years with an option year.
|A nice crowd went home disappointed because IndyCar does not know how to orchestrate great finishes like NASCAR does|
One thing the fans like is the garage access they have with IndyCar. At NASCAR races they are on the outside looking in.
Did you know that Pocono has a new infield road course? Yup, and it has 20 different configurations.
It was curious to see Jeff Gordon in the pits with his family. He raced at Daytona, Florida late last night yet found his way to Pocono. Why? Was it NASCAR's way of diverting some attention toward NASCAR? Was it for Jeff Gordon to report back to NASCAR how the crowd was? Or was it that Jeff Gordon, tired of losing in NASCAR, is checking out IndyCar? IndyCar needs a big name driver like Gordon or Busch in the series. Might they be courting Mr. Gordon? Hmm............ Remember Gordon started his career in open wheel cars and he was a star.
|It was very curious that Jeff Gordon showed up at Pocono. What was the real reason?|
The standing start for the Saturday Toronto race is still on we hear. Sunday's 2nd half of the twinbill will be a rolling start. Speaking of standing starts, Pocono's very wide front straight would make a great place to try a 3-wide standing start. Not even F1 does that! It would be sensational and the fans in the grandstands would love it. Anything to differentiate the IndyCar product from the NASCAR oval product.
We hear the 2014 IndyCar schedule is getting closer, and will perhaps be announced in August. We hear the races on the schedule will not be significantly different than this year, but ABC might pick up another race or two. We might see one new race.
We hear Milwaukee ticket sales were trending a bit up from 2012 until about 4 days before the event when rain was forecast. That caused the event come up about 10,000 short. Will it be back on the 2014 schedule? If the promoter, Andretti, can negotiate the right deal with IndyCar to make it financially feasible, and some corporate sponsors (other than the ones the Andretti team cars already have) step up, the race can return.
We hear a number of Honda teams changed their engine before the race not because they had a failure, but because an engine change means engine upgrades to help catch up to Chevy teams. Only a limited number of parts are allowed to be upgraded with an engine change, but it's usually worth the 10 grid penalty. You get the penalty if you change the engine before the rebuild mileage (2,000) or if you go over the 5 changes allowed per year. The engine change in Pippa Mann's car last night was the 7th of the year, but if you qualify near the back then you never get the full 10 spot penalty so not much lost.
Word is that Mike Conway will be back in that car next weekend in Toronto and we hear Pippa will be back in for Fontana.
The Pocono promotional team has put together a series of classic race cars for display throughout this weekend's festivities.
Track senior vice president Nick Igdalsky led the operation, and he was confident spectators will enjoy these pieces of racing history.
"I love the looks and sounds of these classic machines," Igdalsky told Classic Racing Times. "I believe that the cars, both on display and on track, will add to the festivities and appeal to the educated fans throughout the Northeast."
Included in the collection are a three-quarter midget piloted to victory by Mario Andretti and a Brawner McGee Scorpion, the same model driven by Art Pollard in the 1971 Indianapolis 500.
"We have assembled a world-class group of cars for the event, spanning the history of IndyCars from the 50s to the 80s," classic car representative Gary Mondschein said in Classic Racing Times. "These period cars well represent the history of open wheel racing and Pocono."
The cars were on display near the paddock area Saturday and Sunday morning. They were driven on-track prior to driver introductions.
Although Marco Andretti's Chevrolet topped the speed charts in final practice at 219.120 mph, Hondas claimed three of the top-five times during the session. Takuma Sato was second at 218.814 mph. Scott Dixon was fourth at 218.545 mph and Dario Franchitti fifth at 218.296 mph.
How come IndyCar did not throw a NASCAR debris caution the last 20 laps? The race turned out to be a borefest because so many cars were saving fuel. It was not a race, it was a fuel economy run. Fans came to see a race, not a parade. The people in the stands, most of whom were there to see Andretti win, had no idea why he fell back to 10th because he had to save fuel. They went home disappointed and they won't be back. Mark C. reporting from Pocono