IndyCar: Newgarden’s, Kanaan’s Pocono fuel gambles come up shy of victory

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Either would have made for a feel-good story this afternoon, but neither Josef Newgarden nor Tony Kanaan was able to parlay a fuel gamble into a Verizon IndyCar Series victory party in the Poconos.

Kanaan’s was probably the harder luck story. The Brazilian had by far his best run of the season in the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, leading a race-high 78 laps in the Pocono INDYCAR 500 fueled by Sunoco.

After starting eighth, Kanaan opted to go for a full fuel-burn strategy, running flat out while leading as opposed to saving fuel, which the Team Penske trio of Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves and Will Power all did.

This meant on average Kanaan stopped anywhere from three to six laps sooner on a given cycle. But he was able to catch up when he and Newgarden pitted as late as possible during the lone caution flag period of the race – Lap 161 – in the hope of being able to make it the final 39 laps to the finish without a stop.

The strategy backfired as the race went green from the Lap 166 restart. Newgarden was able to lead from Lap 190 until he pitted for fuel only on Lap 194; Kanaan stretched it to Lap 197 before peeling off for his own splash-and-dash.

Newgarden ended eighth, which equaled his season-best result (Barber, Round 4) while Kanaan fell outside the top 10 to 11th.

Neither result reflected the race they’d run. In Kanaan’s case, it was the first time all year a Target-backed entry looked like a world beater, with Kanaan having advanced from eighth on the grid with a car that had a higher downforce setup and was great in race trim.

Newgarden, meanwhile, drove methodically in picking up positions from 21st and last on the grid after a self-described “weird” qualifying crash. The top-10 is his first top-10 finish since April and that race at Barber, but it was disappointing given what could have been.

Kanaan echoed the sentiment, simply stating, “disappointed.”

Scott Dixon fastest on the second day of Indianapolis 500 practice

Indy 500 practice Dixon
James Black/IndyCar
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Scott Dixon was fastest on the second day of Indy 500 practice Thursday, turning a lap at 226.102 mph in his No. 9 Dallara-Honda at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Takuma Sato was second, followed by Marco Andretti, Conor Daly and rookie Alex Palou.

The rest of the top 10 were: Colton Herta, Charlie Kimball, James Hinchcliffe, Fernando Alonso and James Davison.

THURSDAY PRACTICE: Click here for Day 2 speeds at Indianapolis

COMBINED SPEEDS: Click here for the overall speeds from the first two days

The session had one incident as Alonso crashed with just less than an hour left in the session. The Arrow McLaren SP driver was optimistic that the car could be repaired without a backup.

Among the other notables on the speed chart Thursday: Ryan Hunter-Reay (11th); Tony Kanaan (14th); Helio Castroneves (16th); Josef Newgarden (18th); Graham Rahal (19th); Will Power (23rd); Alexander Rossi (26th) and defending race winner Simon Pagenaud (27th).

Felix Rosenqvist (24th) and rookie Dalton Kellett turned the most laps (141) around the 2.5-mile oval.

Teams mostly focused on race setup Thursday as they will receive 80 extra horsepower in the “Fast Friday” practice that will feature speeds above 230 mph for qualifying Saturday and Sunday.

The Indy 500 will take place Aug. 23; coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on NBC with the green flag at 2:30 p.m.

HOW TO WATCH THE INDY 500 ON NBCDetails for the Aug. 23 race

DAILY INDY 500 SCHEDULEClick here for all on-track activity in August at Indy