Post-Pocono points stats in IndyCar


The IZOD IndyCar Series’ Pocono INDYCAR 400 Fueled by Sunoco marked the end of the series’ four-race run of ovals. The teams won’t have another run on one until the season-ending MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway at Fontana in October.

Exiting Detroit, Marco Andretti and Helio Castroneves were tied for the points lead on 206 apiece. Four races later, Castroneves leads Andretti’s teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay by 23 points (356-333), with Andretti 55 points behind in third.

Castroneves won at Texas to kick off this four-race oval stretch and has added top-10 finishes in the other three races. The Team Penske driver is the only driver in the field to have completed such a run on the diverse stretch of ovals: 1.5-mile (Texas), 1-mile (Milwaukee), 0.875-mile (Iowa) and 2.5-miles (Pocono).

Although Hunter-Reay and Andretti are further back, their results have not matched how well they’ve run. On pure pace, Andretti Autosport Chevrolets have been the fastest cars throughout the run of ovals. They’ve grabbed 12 of a possible 20 top-five starting positions in the four races, led 542 of 888 laps (61.03 percent), and won at both Milwaukee with Hunter-Reay and Iowa with James Hinchcliffe.

Hunter-Reay and Castroneves have scored 186 points apiece on all ovals this year, with Castroneves outscoring Hunter-Reay by eight, 150-142, in the last four races. Tony Kanaan (166), Ed Carpenter (145) and Andretti (140) round out the top five of those who have scored the most oval points this year.

Andretti, twice a polesitter in this stretch, had the hardest luck because leading at Pocono made him a victim of his own success. As he spent 88 laps in the lead, he burned fuel faster rather than those who could sit behind in the draft to save fuel and run longer. The Hondas had a slight advantage anyway.

Elsewhere in the points, Hinchcliffe has advanced four spots from ninth to fifth after Detroit, despite his first lap exit at Pocono, while Takuma Sato has, since Indianapolis, dropped from second to 10th in points.

See a comparison of where the points are now compared to where they were before this four-race run of ovals, below:

       Exiting Detroit 2, Round 7   Exiting Pocono, Round 11
1.	Marco Andretti, 206              Helio Castroneves, 356
2.	Helio Castroneves, 206           Ryan Hunter-Reay, 333
3.	Ryan Hunter-Reay, 191            Marco Andretti, 301
4.	Scott Dixon, 186                 Scott Dixon, 291
5.	Simon Pagenaud, 177              James Hinchcliffe, 272
6.	Takuma Sato, 175                 Tony Kanaan, 271
7.	Justin Wilson, 169               Simon Pagenaud, 269
8.	Tony Kanaan, 160                 Justin Wilson, 253
9.	James Hinchcliffe, 154           Will Power, 243
10.	Charlie Kimball, 149             Takuma Sato, 241

‘Game-changing’ multi-year agreement will take INDYCAR, NBC Sports ‘to the next level’


NEW YORK – As the fourth Nor’easter in three weeks bore down on the Big Apple, it was tough to spot people that were clearly in a good mood.

But Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, was clearly in a good mood.

On Wednesday morning at 10 am ET, we all found out why: NBC will become the exclusive home of the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, starting in 2019.

The new three-year deal not only makes “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” part of the network’s “Championship Season” – its collection of high-profile championship events from May to July – but also reaffirms NBC’s status as the home of motorsports television in the United States.

That status is something Miller doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s important people know that storytelling is in our DNA, and motorsports lends itself very well to storytelling,” Miller said as he, INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles and driver James Hinchcliffe made a snowy trek to the New York Stock Exchange to promote the deal on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

“We’ve had great success with the second half of the entire NASCAR season, and then we’ve had half of the IndyCar package [since 2009] … But we never had the real meat of the series and that didn’t set anybody up for success.

“Having the entire package of IndyCar now – all 17 races, qualifying, practice, you name it – really sets IndyCar on a strong path and solidifies NBC’s position as the home of motorsports. I think it becomes a property much like the Premier League, the NHL, and even the Olympics and the Triple Crown. We have 100 percent of the media opportunity and we can put all those great assets behind it.”

With the storm no doubt keeping some traders home, the floor of the NYSE was relatively subdued. But that made it no less important to be at the heart of Wall Street. Miles and his team are pursuing a new title sponsor for the IndyCar Series to replace Verizon, which will fully focus its efforts in the series with the powerhouse Team Penske going forward in 2019.

The new deal – which includes 8 races per year on the NBC network (with the remaining races going to NBCSN), live streaming of all races, and a direct-to-consumer package with NBC Sports Gold – gave Miles plenty to push for any potential backers. As for Hinchcliffe, he held his own nicely in an interview that also explored IndyCar’s global ambitions, the impact of technology on the sport, and of course, his spin around the ballroom on “Dancing with the Stars.”

On the ride back to 30 Rock, Miles was confident that NBC can play a big role in attracting a sponsor that can help the series keep growing.

“With respect to our work in finding the best title sponsor, it’s really important – and this has not been talked about much – but we expect to work with hand in glove with NBC’s sales,” he explained. “We have the opportunity to create packages which are both broadcast sponsorship and series sponsorship, I think, in a way that doesn’t come along very often.

“Usually, the media deal and the sponsorship deal doesn’t align like this, so we’re really excited about the offering we’ll have and the approach to the market we can take.”

Should the partnership with NBC bear fruit on that front and others, it will only add to the upswing that the IndyCar Series has had in recent years.

Hinchcliffe has been a witness to that. He entered the series in 2011, when it was trying to find its footing after the sport’s reunification three years earlier. After 13 years of CART vs. the Indy Racing League, getting everything back under one roof was not a smooth process.

But fast-forward seven years, and things have changed for the better. TV ratings and digital viewers have gone up. Race scheduling has become more stable and enhanced with the return of traditional open-wheel markets. And this year’s debut of the universal aero kit aims to pump up the action on the track, while also giving the cars a cleaner, meaner look.

Now, with NBC all in, Hinchcliffe is bullish on his sport’s future.

“This is a game-changing thing for us,” he declared. “If you look at the last four or five years, we’ve seen a steady growth in pretty much every measureable metric that there is – in a time where, globally, motorsports is in a bit of a downturn.

“The fact that IndyCar was able to rally against a global dip in motorsports interest, attendance, sponsorship – it speaks volumes to what we have been doing and this is just gonna take us to that next level.”