Pocono Update: Tony Kanaan leads at halfway

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Seeking to give Chip Ganassi Racing its first win of the season – and seeking to earn his first win as a member of the team – Tony Kanaan led at the halfway point of today’s Pocono IndyCar 500 at Pocono Raceway.

At Lap 100, Kanaan led pole sitter Juan Pablo Montoya by about one second, while Will Power, Helio Castroneves, and rookie Mikhail Aleshin completed the Top 5.

The race started with Marco Andretti attempting to charge to the front and vaulting from fifth to second in the span of one turn. However, he slipped back afterwards and fell to fifth again by Lap 5.

The leaders then settled into a rhythm and tried to stretch their opening fuel loads as far as they could. But on Lap 25, Takuma Sato was forced to go to the pits and there, the engine cover was taken off the car.

Ryan Hunter-Reay went in around Lap 30, but the American driver suffered a suspension issue and his No. 28 Andretti Autosport team was forced to go to the garage for repairs.

NBCSN reported that the lower A-arm mount on the front left corner of the car was the problem area. After the repairs, cameras spotted Hunter-Reay’s crew wheeling him and his car back toward the track.

During the first wave of stops, Andretti was hit with a drive-through penalty for speeding on pit road. Meanwhile, Kanaan powered to the lead at Lap 51 and held it up to his next stop at Lap 59.

Kanaan returned to the lead after this particular cycle, while Montoya settled into second after going five laps farther than the Brazilian on his most recent fuel load.

If Montoya can keep getting better mileage, it might be the key to him scoring what would be his first IndyCar win since his 2000 CART triumph at Gateway Motorsports Park outside St. Louis.

Kanaan, Montoya, and Power continued to maintain first, second, and third positions through the stint until Kanaan once again pitted early at Lap 89, which gave the lead to Montoya.

Two laps later, on Lap 91, Carlos Huertas came to a stop on pit road before he and his stricken car were moved away from the lanes. However, the race stayed green and his Dale Coyne Racing team pushed Huertas back to their pit box when the cycle ended.

On Lap 94, Montoya made his stop and actually came out ahead of Kanaan. But down the Long Pond Straightaway, Kanaan pulled to the inside and passed Montoya to reclaim the lead.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.