Bits and pieces on the Pocono IndyCar 400

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POWER, NEWGARDEN IN TOP 5: Team Penske’s Will Power led 15 laps en route to a fourth-place finish this afternoon, his third Top-5 of 2013. “It was a good day and a good finish for the Verizon team,” Power said. “The boys gave me some great pit stops today, and it was really important for us to score some good points and continue to make up ground in the championship.” Right behind him in fifth was Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s Josef Newgarden, who tied his career-best result in IndyCar (Sao Paulo, 2013). “I’m really pleased for the whole team,” he said. “It’s good to get representative results, and today, we got a great one.”

JEFF GORDON, SON DROP BY: Fresh off racing in last night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona, four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon and his young son, Leo, visited Pocono today to see IndyCar’s return to the 2.5-mile oval. “I’m so excited to be here for Leo – he’s the one who saw the cars on TV and said to my wife, Ingrid, ‘Race car, race car,'” said Gordon. “So we were in New York and said, ‘Heck, let’s go!’ To be back here in Pocono with the IndyCars, how could we miss that? It’s so cool. I’m being here as a race fan and enjoying it.”

MOVIN’ ON UP: Five drivers were able to make up at least 10 positions during Sunday’s 400-miler. Tying for the biggest charge up the grid were Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon (winner) and Dario Franchitti (third), who each climbed 17 spots. Dale Coyne Racing’s Justin Wilson (seventh) moved up 15 spots, followed by Charlie Kimball (second) and Newgarden (fifth) each gaining 10 spots.

OTHER COOL STUFF: Chip Ganassi Racing’s 1-2-3 finish today was the first time that happened for a team in the IZOD IndyCar Series since Team Penske did it at Sonoma Raceway in 2011, when Power, Helio Castroneves and Briscoe finished first, second and third respectively…KV Racing Technology’s Simona de Silvestro moved up four spots in the final 20 laps to finish 11th for a career-best result on an oval…One day after taking the P2 class win in the American Le Mans Series race at Lime Rock Park, Panther Racing’s Ryan Briscoe was bidding for a Top-10 finish until he had to pit late for a splash of fuel; he wound up 13th…Today’s race was the fastest IndyCar event ever held at Pocono, with a stout average speed of 192.864 miles per hour. The previous record was 170.720 mph, set during Danny Sullivan’s 1989 win. That race, a 500-miler, was the last open-wheel event at Pocono until today.

Al Unser Jr. back in IndyCar after a decade away: ‘Life is very good’

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There’s been somewhat of a hole in Al Unser Jr.’s heart ever since he retired from racing in 2007.

It was a void, something was missing.

But now, after a decade away from racing, Unser has found the right medicine to fill that hole in his heart: he’s back in the racing game again.

No, he’s not driving again (although he does participate occasionally in vintage races), but the two-time Indianapolis 500 (1992 and 1994) winner is definitely back in the IndyCar world.

And he couldn’t be happier.

“For me, it’s a dream come true,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “Since I stepped out of the race car and retired from racing, there’s been something missing from my life, and it’s racing.”

Unser has hooked up with Harding Racing. The team competed in three races last season as a ramp-up for a full 17-race effort this season. While Unser’s official title with the team is “consultant,” he’s involved in so much more.

His main role is as a driving coach to 2015 IndyCar Rookie of the Year Gabby Chaves. But he’s also involved in so many other areas, including helping the team obtain sponsorships and much more.

He then added, “I’m involved in every sense of the word except actually driving the car. And I’m happy about that because I’m too old to drive the car.”

Unser, who won CART championships in 1990 and 1994, is now 55. He’s so involved with his new job that he even moved from his native New Mexico and has relocated to suburban Indianapolis.

Not only is it a new start for Unser, it also is for Chaves. After running all 16 races in 2015 for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian, he competed in just seven races for Dale Coyne Racing in 2016 and only three races for Harding Racing last season.

But he definitely impressed the team, with a fifth- (Texas) and ninth-place (Indianapolis 500) finish in the first two races and 15th (Pocono) in the team’s final run of the season.

That’s why when Harding Racing decided to go fulltime in 2018, Chaves was their pick for behind the wheel. And Unser was their pick to help guide him to potential stardom in the series.

“(Team owner) Mike Harding is definitely a person that when he decides to do something, he does it right,” Unser told IndyCar.com. “The potential for this organization is through the sky. We’re all working really hard here and we see the potential.”

And as for Unser?

“Life is good, life is very good,” he told IndyCar.com. “We’re back full force, eager and better than ever.”

Click here for the full story about Unser from IndyCar.com.