Juan Pablo Montoya

Everything you need to know for Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indy

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After the final off-weekend of 2014, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ drivers and teams will be working with extra motivation this week as they prepare to run at the world’s greatest racecourse.

If you’re a diehard, then you know by now that stock car racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway doesn’t always produce the most compelling on-track action.

Even so, it’s still Indy, and that means the Brickyard 400 is a race that everyone wants to win.

As former Cup driver and current NBCSN racing analyst Kyle Petty once said of Indy: “Stock cars, IndyCars, school buses – and that would be a heck of a place for a school bus race – no matter what they run there, it’s going to be big.”

And with five Chase Grid spots still up for grabs with seven regular season races to go, Sunday’s race is going to be very big indeed.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s all the notes and numbers to keep in mind for Round 20 of the 2014 Sprint Cup championship…

INDIANAPOLIS-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Greg Biffle (No. 16 NESN 30th Anniversary Ford)
· Three top fives, six top 10s
· Average finish of 13.2
· Average Running Position of 11.8, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 94.6, eighth-best
· 58 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· 472 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 169.929 mph, seventh-fastest
· 1,027 Laps in the Top 15 (71.3%), seventh-most
· 205 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), 10th-most

Clint Bowyer (No. 15 5-Hour Energy Toyota)
· Two top fives, two top 10s
· Average finish of 13.3
· Average Running Position of 14.8, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 84.6, 11th-best
· 487 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· 727 Laps in the Top 15 (56.8%), 11th-most
· 172 Quality Passes, 12th-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota)
· Two top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 11.6
· Average Running Position of 12.8, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 96.5, fifth-best
· 48 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· 502 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 170.047 mph, fifth-fastest
· 1,044 Laps in the Top 15 (72.5%), fifth-most
· 265 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)
· One top five, three top 10s
· Average finish of 13.2
· Driver Rating of 84.4, 12th-best
· 44 Fastest Laps Run, ninth-most
· 519 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
· 721 Laps in the Top 15 (50.1%), 12th-most
· 234 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)
· Four wins, 11 top fives, 16 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 8.8
· Average Running Position of 11.5, third-best
· Driver Rating of 102.0, third-best
· 105 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· 497 Green Flag Passes, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 170.505 mph, second-fastest
· Series-high 1,105 Laps in the Top 15 (76.7%)
· 284 Quality Passes, second-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota)
· One top five, three top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 16.9
· Driver Rating of 88.3, 10th-best
· 41 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 170.004 mph, sixth-fastest
· 738 Laps in the Top 15 (57.7%), 10th-most
· 190 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet)
· One win, four top fives, seven top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 10.9
· Average Running Position of 14.4, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 90.2, ninth-best
· 904 Laps in the Top 15 (62.8%), eighth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet)
· Four wins, five top fives, six top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.6
· Series-best Average Running Position of 10.8
· Series-best Driver Rating of 109.8
· Series-high 173 Fastest Laps Run
· 1,057 Laps in the Top 15 (73.4%), fourth-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Great Clips/Shark Week Chevrolet)
· Three top fives, five top 10s
· Average finish of 14.2
· Average Running Position of 12.8, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 96.4, sixth-best
· 78 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 1,085 Laps in the Top 15 (75.3%), third-most
· 271 Quality Passes, third-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Dollar General Toyota)
· Six top fives, eight top 10s
· Average finish of 15.1
· Average Running Position of 12.4, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 95.8, seventh-best
· 1,100 Laps in the Top 15 (76.4%), second-most
· 247 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 12 SKF Ford)
· One top five, two top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 20.3
· Average Running Position of 12.5, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 96.7, fourth-best
· 106 Fastest Laps Run, second-most

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
· Two wins, seven top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 7.9
· Average Running Position of 11.1, second-best
· Driver Rating of 104.1, second-best
· Series-high 571 Green Flag Passes
· 1,037 Laps in the Top 15 (72.0%), sixth-most
· Series-high 292 Quality Passes

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Indianapolis Motor Speedway Track Data
Season Race #: 20 of 36 (07-27-14)
Track Size: 2.5-miles
Banking/Turns 1 & 2: 9 degrees
Banking/Turns 3 & 4: 9 degrees
Banking/Straights: 0 degrees
Frontstretch Length: 3,330 feet
Backstretch Length: 3,300 feet
Race Length: 160 laps / 400 miles

Top 10 Driver Ratings at Indianapolis
Jimmie Johnson…………………… 109.8
Tony Stewart……………………….. 104.1
Jeff Gordon………………………… 102.0
Juan Pablo Montoya………………. 96.7
Kyle Busch…………………………… 96.5
Kasey Kahne………………………… 96.4
Matt Kenseth………………………… 95.8
Greg Biffle……………………………. 94.6
Kevin Harvick………………………… 90.2
Denny Hamlin……………………….. 88.3
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2013 races (nine total) among active drivers at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Qualifying/Race Data
2013 pole winner: Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 187.531 mph, 47.992 secs., 07-26-13
2013 race winner: Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 153.485 mph, (02:36:22), 07-28-13
Track qualifying record: Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 187.531 mph, 47.992 secs., 07-26-13
Track race record: Bobby Labonte, Pontiac, 155.912 mph, (02:33:56), 08-05-00

Indianapolis Motor Speedway History
· Indianapolis Motor Speedway has existed since 1909, and is the original “Speedway,” the first racing facility to incorporate the word into its name.
· With a permanent seating capacity for more than 250,000-plus people and infield seating that raises capacity to an approximate 400,000, it is the largest and highest-capacity sporting facility in history.
· The first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was August 6, 1994 – won by Jeff Gordon.
Notebook
· There have been 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; one per year from 1994 through 2012.
· 132 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway; 104 in more than one.
· Four drivers have competed in all 20 races at Indianapolis: Jeff Burton, Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin.
· Rick Mast won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Indianapolis in 1994 with a speed of 172.414 mph.
· 17 drivers have Coors Light poles at Indianapolis, led by Jeff Gordon with three.
· Two drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Indianapolis: Jeff Gordon (1995 and 1996) and Ernie Irvan (1997 and 1998).
· Youngest Indianapolis Coors Light pole winner: Reed Sorenson (07/29/2007 – 21 years, 5 months, 24 days).
· Oldest Indianapolis Coors Light pole winner: Mark Martin (07/26/2009 – 50 years, 6 months, 17 days).
· 12 different drivers have won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, led by Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson with four each.
· Jimmie Johnson is the only driver to have posted consecutive wins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2008 and 2009).
· Youngest Indianapolis winner: Jeff Gordon (08/06/1994 – 23 years, 0 months, 2 days).
· Oldest Indianapolis winner: Bill Elliott (08/04/2002 – 50 years, 8 months, 11 days).
· Hendrick Motorsports leads the series in wins at Indianapolis in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with eight; followed by Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing with three each.
· Four different manufacturers have won at Indianapolis; led by Chevrolet with 15 victories; followed by Ford with three, Dodge and Pontiac each have one.
· Chevrolet has won the last 11 consecutive NSCS races at Indianapolis.
· 15 of the 20 winners were either past, future or reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions.
· Eight race Brickyard winners went on to win that season’s NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.
· Only three of the 20 (15%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis have been won from the Coors Light pole: Kevin Harvick (2003), Jimmie Johnson (2008) and Ryan Newman (2013).
· The pole and third starting positions are the most proficient starting positions in the field, each producing three winners – more than any other starting positions at Indianapolis.
· Four of the 20 (20%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis have been won from the front row: three from the pole and once from second-place.
· 12 of the 20 (60%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Indianapolis have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Three of the 20 (15%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Indianapolis was 27th, by Jeff Gordon in 2001.
· NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace leads the series in runner-up finishes at Indianapolis with three; followed Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth with two each.
· Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-five finishes at Indianapolis with 11; followed by Tony Stewart with seven.
· Jeff Gordon leads the series in top-10 finishes at Indianapolis with 15; followed by Tony Stewart and Mark Martin with 11 each.
· Juan Pablo Montoya leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Indianapolis with a 6.429.
· Tony Stewart leads in average finishing position at Indianapolis with an 7.933.
· Six of the seven active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race winners at Indianapolis Motor Speedway participated in at least one or more races before visiting Victory Lane. Jeff Gordon won the Brickyard 400 in his first start at Indianapolis.
· Ryan Newman competed at Indianapolis Motor Speedway 12 times before winning in 2013; the longest span of any the seven active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winners.
· Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Indianapolis without visiting Victory Lane at 18.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the August 3, 1997 race won by Ricky Rudd over Bobby Labonte with a MOV of 0.183 second.
· Only one of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races have resulted with a green-white-checkered finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): 2004 (160/161).
· None of the 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions.
· Qualifying has not been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
· Reed Sorenson (07/29/07) is the only driver to post his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
· Paul Menard (07/31/11) is the only driver to have posted his first career series win at Indianapolis.
· Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in laps led at Indianapolis with 488 laps led in 20 starts.
· Danica Patrick became the first female driver to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2013; she started 33rd and finished 30th.
· Shawna Robinson (08/05/01) is the only other female driver to attempt to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Indianapolis, but she failed to qualify for the event.

NASCAR in Indiana
· There have been 22 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races among three tracks in Indiana: 20 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, one at Funks Speedway (Winchester), and one at Playland Park Speedway (South Bend).
· 79 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Indiana. Eight of 79 have posted a win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
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Sprint car shocker: Steve ‘The King’ Kinser announces retirement

The legendary Steve "The King" Kinser announced his retirement from Sprint car racing Monday night.
(Official Twitter page of Knoxville Raceway)
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Sprint car fans knew it was eventually coming, but the timing of it still likely surprised many when legendary driver Steve “The King” Kinser announced Monday night that he was retiring.

What will likely be the last race of Kinser’s storied career came at Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, New York, where he finished sixth in the main event.

In the following video, Kinser not only shocked the fans in attendance, but also clearly caught track public address announcer John Stanley completely off-guard with his revelation.

“We thought we’d make it one more time and I’m pretty sure this will be the last race I ever run right here tonight, the last race period,” Kinser said. “I hadn’t been running many (races) this year and was planning on quitting anyway.

“I’m never going to say never but I’m pretty positive I’m going to watch Kraig (his son, also a racer), go to races and have some fun.”

The 62-year-old resident of Bloomington, Indiana is a 20-time World of Outlaws champion (won a record 577 races in the series), as well as more recently a stalwart on the All Star Circuit of Champions sprint car series owned by NASCAR champion Tony Stewart.

It was a ASCoC event at Lebanon Valley where Kinser delivered his bombshell news, according to a report by National SpeedSport News.

The 12-time Knoxville Nationals champ, whose last full-time season in the WoO was in 2014, has been racing a limited schedule both last season and in 2016.

While his career has been primarily in Sprint cars, Kinser also raced in other series including five times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, raced in the 1997 Indianapolis 500 (finished 14th) and in the IROC and USAC series.

Naturally, the social media world was all atwitter – no pun intended – about Kinser’s bombshell announcement:

 

 

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Can Dixon, Kanaan, Castroneves still catch Pagenaud, Power for IndyCar crown?

Can Phoenix winner and defending IndyCar champ Scott Dixon, middle, catch Simon Pagenaud or Will Power for the IndyCar championship?
(Photos courtesy IndyCar)
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In Major League Baseball, the 4-5-6 batters are typically the meat of the batting order. It’s those three players that play one of the biggest parts in determining which team becomes the ultimate champion each season.

Now, 4-5-6 in the standings of the Verizon IndyCar Series is a bit of a different matter.

Sure, fourth-ranked Scott Dixon is a four-time IndyCar champ and Indianapolis 500 winner, fifth-ranked Helio Castroneves is a three-time Indy 500 winner, and sixth-ranked Tony Kanaan is both a series champion and Indy 500 winner.

That sounds like an IndyCar equivalent of baseball’s Murderer’s Row, right?

But following Monday’s weather-rescheduled ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, the 4-5-6 drivers in the IndyCar Series rankings have three races left to hit nothing but home runs if they hope to throw a curveball into Simon Pagenaud’s and Will Power’s championship plans.

Six points separate the trio: Dixon has 386 points, 111 points short of Pagenaud (497 points, with Power a close second at 477 points). Castroneves has 384 (-113) and Kanaan has 380 (-117).

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Scott Dixon

And let’s not forget about Josef Newgarden, sitting third at 397 points, exactly 100 markers behind Pagenaud and 80 points in arrears to Power. But Newgarden will almost certainly drop out of realistic contention with a last-place finish looming at Texas Motor Speedway after he crashed out in June, and won’t be able to restart.

The respective finishes of Dixon (sixth), Kanaan (ninth) and Castroneves (19th) at Pocono also didn’t help their championship chances, because Power won. Pagenaud failed to finish but still looms far ahead.

Right now, a maximum of 211 points is up for grabs in the remaining three races. That breaks down to 50 points each to the winner at Texas and Watkins Glen, and double points (100) to the winner of the season finale at Sonoma.

There’s also one point for the pole winner in each of the final three races, although Carlos Munoz will get that point at Texas since he got the pole there back in June.

In addition, each of the three remaining races – as all others – awards one point if a driver leads at least one lap and two points to the driver who leads the most laps.

With his win Monday, Power earned almost the maximum amount of points at Pocono, capturing 51 of a possible 54. Pagenaud, who finished 18th, earned just 13 points, allowing Power to cut Pagenaud’s lead in the standings by 38 points, more than half of what it was coming into the race (58 points).

Dixon climbed one position, from fifth to fourth, with his Pocono finish. But he knows time is running to defend last year’s championship – particularly with this being the last year for him with Target sponsorship.

Here’s what Dixon had to say after Pocono:

“We started in the rear of the field and that didn’t help our cause with the Target team. We got held up in the second to last restart and some lapped cars didn’t go when they should have and that really cost us in terms of track position for sure. We clawed our way back into the mix but with so many good cars out there it was hard to get all the way to the front to contend.”

JGS_0811-1
Tony Kanaan

Kanaan slipped slightly in the standings from fifth to sixth after his Pocono finish.

Here’s what Kanaan had to say afterwards:

“We just couldn’t catch a break during the race. Every time we’d make a run toward the front, something would go wrong. We had a mechanical issue that was affecting the fuel system and that caused a lot of problems for us. Then we lost a piece of our rear bumper pod that caused that last yellow. It just wasn’t our day.”

Lastly, Castroneves had a performance Monday that he’d rather forget. While he started strong (fourth), he was involved in a scary pit road crash not of his doing when Alexander Rossi and Charlie Kimball made contact.

Rossi, this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, bounced off Kimball’s car and ran over the top of Castroneves’ car as he was trying to leave his pit stall.

The tires on Rossi’s car made visible marks on the top of the cockpit of Castroneves’ car and then the car continued until it had climbed over and landed back on the pavement on all four wheels. Castroneves suffered a slight bruise to his right hand but was otherwise uninjured in the scary mishap.

But his hand isn’t the thing that really hurt. Castroneves’ resulting 19th place finish saw him drop from third to fifth in the standings. Given that he’s 117 points behind Pagenaud and 97 behind Power, his Team Penske teammate, Castroneves’ hopes for his elusive first career IndyCar championship are slim, indeed – unless perhaps he wins each of the next three races.

And that still may not be enough to win it all if Pagenaud and/or Power have strong finishes in at least two of those last three.

One thing’s for certain: neither Castroneves nor Dixon or Kanaan are giving up.

Here’s what Castroneves had to say about Monday’s race, the pit road incident, as well as moving on to Texas:

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Helio Castroneves

“Inside the car, I was actually more protected than what it looked like. Sometime people don’t realize the Verizon IndyCar Series are so much about safety and today is the proof of that.

“Very glad that nobody got hurt. It’s just a shame. The Hitachi Chevy was really having a good day and we just had another good pit stop when I was coming out of the pits.

“All of a sudden there was a car on top of me. It was a little strange to be honest. The Team Penske guys worked really hard to try and fix the car but there was a lot of damage.

“It’s certainly unfortunate because this will hurt us in the championship battle but our team will never give up. We’ll move on to Texas where, fortunately, we’ve had a lot of success.”

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Carpenter’s hope for oval resurgence once again goes round in circles

04CJ2318 (1)
(Photo courtesy of Chris Jones/IndyCar)
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Just when he was hoping for a dramatic improvement, Ed Carpenter’s season of discontent behind the wheel continues.

The owner of Ed Carpenter Racing had high hopes for a strong finish in Monday’s weather-rescheduled ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.

Running his usual schedule of ovals only, Carpenter qualified a respectable 10th at Pocono and had a car that in practice looked like it could be a top-10 finisher in the actual race itself.

But for the third time in his four oval races this season (Phoenix, Indianapolis, Iowa and Pocono), Carpenter and his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet came up short due to an unspecified mechanical issue that knocked him out of the race just 57 laps into the 200-lap event.

At Phoenix, Carpenter had his best qualifying effort of the season (fifth) and managed to complete 195 of 200 laps before crashing and finishing 21st.

In the Indianapolis 500, he started 20th and finished 31st in the 33-car field when an oxygen sensor went bad just two laps from the midpoint of the 200-lap race.

Carpenter had his best outing of the year at Iowa, finishing 18th. However, he finished just 284 of the race’s 300 laps with another mechanical issue occurring on a pit stop and a bunch of time lost. The gear cluster needed to be changed.

And then came Pocono on Monday, another outcome that left Carpenter disappointed.

“Ed Carpenter Racing has performed so awesome this year and the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka car can’t catch a break,” Carpenter said after Monday’s race. “I haven’t finished a full race this season.

“I made one mistake at Phoenix, but other than that we’ve just had things happen. Some of it shouldn’t have happened and could have been avoided, so there’s just a lot of frustration.”

Carpenter has one more oval race left on his schedule: this Saturday’s resumption of the rain-delayed race at Texas Motor Speedway.

“This is one of my last two races this year and I felt really good coming into (Monday),” Carpenter said of Pocono. “I’m not going to comment on what happened specifically, it won’t do any good to talk about it out in the open. It’s just frustrating.”

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Pocono is best superspeedway finish for Bourdais since IndyCar return

(Getty Images)
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Since returning to the Verizon IndyCar Series part-time in 2011 and full-time in 2013, French driver Sebastien Bourdais has four wins in 87 starts and eight podium finishes.

But in all of those starts, Bourdais had never scored a top-five on a superspeedway.

His best finish at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway was seventh in 2014. His best finish on Fontana’s 2-miler was 12th in 2013.

And prior to Monday, his best finish at Pocono Raceway’s 2.5-mile “tricky triangle” was 16th (2013 and 2014).

But in Monday’s weather-delayed ABC Supply 500, Bourdais achieved a career-best performance on a superspeedway, as his No. 11 Team Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet finished fifth.

Bourdais qualified 18th but was fourth-quickest in race trim in the final practice before Monday’s rescheduled race. While he started slow, he methodically worked his way up through the field until he cracked the top-10 on Lap 91 of the 200-lap, 500-mile event.

On Lap 177, Bourdais and his team gambled on their final pit stop. Instead of a full service stop, the team went with only fuel and not tires.

That moved Bourdais up to second place from seventh and his second win of 2016 (first was Belle Isle 1) appeared a strong possibility.

While the gamble worked in theory, it was foiled by a glitch in the computer blend line software, which erroneously placed Bourdais in third on the ensuing restart.

When the green flag fell, Bourdais had a slow restart and fell back two more spots to fifth. He briefly climbed back to forth, but eventual third-place finisher Ryan Hunter-Reay passed him, relegating Bourdais to where he’d ultimately finish: in fifth.

“It was a pretty good day for the Hydroxycut – KVSH Racing Team,” Bourdais said after the race. “We took some penalties with long pit stops to set the car up early on, but even though we were marginal on front grip we were running a pretty solid race.

“We passed Dixie (Scott Dixon), passed Kanaan (Tony), passed some Penskes, not the top one, but when you do that, things are going pretty good. Then you end up finishing fifth after there was some computer confusion about our position on the restart.”

Bourdais remains 14th in the IndyCar point standings, but Monday’s finish was his eighth top-10 showing in the first 13 races of the season.

“Overall, you have to consider that it was a great day,” Bourdais said of Pocono. “It was definitely our strongest showing on a super speedway.

“We learned something this weekend, something we have been missing. The crew did a really good job and the Hydroxycut Chevy machine was really strong. So I am really happy with the result.”

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