The IZOD IndyCar Series track record will fall at Pocono Raceway this weekend; it’s just a question of who will break it.
All 24 drivers lapped under Emerson Fittipaldi’s track record of 42.510 seconds (211.715 mph) set on Aug. 19, 1989 in Thursday’s open test. Marco Andretti of nearby Nazareth, Pa., topped the speed charts with a lap of 220.963 mph (40.7308 seconds) in the No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport.
As in Indianapolis, a track of a similar 2.5 miles if completely different in character, Chevrolet-engined cars paced the timesheets. Tony Kanaan, Helio Castroneves, Ed Carpenter and Ryan Hunter-Reay completed the “Bowtie brigade” top five sweep.
Scott Dixon was quickest Honda on the day in sixth, with Sebastien Bourdais, James Hinchcliffe, Will Power and James Jakes rounding out the top 10.
The series has a day off Friday before official practice opens at Pocono on Saturday for the Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco.
See Thursday times and speeds here.
Carlos Sainz Jr.
Teams: Scuderia Toro Rosso (1-16), Renault (17-20)
Car No.: 33
Best Finish: P4 (Singapore)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Championship Position: 9th
Carlos Sainz Jr. has always been compared to Max Verstappen given their relative rise and stint together at Toro Rosso, but the Spaniard began to forge his own impressive path through 2017, securing himself a works drive with Renault in the process.
Alongside the struggling Daniil Kvyat for much of the season, Sainz led Toro Rosso’s charge, scoring 48 of its 53 points with a string of impressive drives. His headline moment came in Singapore when he matched Verstappen’s best result in Toro Rosso colors by finishing fourth, capitalizing on the start-line crash and the wet weather with a strong display.
Sainz’s displays led to a call from Renault, who announced just two days before his star display in Singapore he would be joining up for 2018 on loan from Red Bull. However, the deal was accelerated after a deal was brokered to secure Jolyon Palmer’s departure, allowing Sainz to join up from the United States GP onwards.
Sainz made an immediate impression, completing a perfect race en route to seventh on debut for Renault to secure six points that would prove crucial in the final constructors’ championship standings as the French team beat Toro Rosso to P6 in the standings at the last race of the year.
Red Bull retains an option on Sainz’s future beyond 2018, making him a candidate for a seat with its senior team should Daniel Ricciardo opt to leave. Failing that, Renault could offer Sainz the platform he needs to continue his rapid rise in F1 and establish himself at the front of the pack for many years to come.
Season High: Finishing fourth in Singapore after dodging the start-line drama.
Season Low: Crashing out in his final Toro Rosso appearance on the first lap at Suzuka.