Will Power wins, Simon Pagenaud wrecks, tightens IndyCar title chase

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Will Power made a huge statement and impact on the Verizon IndyCar Series point standings, storming to the lead and then holding on to win Monday’s rain-postponed ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.

With Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud having crashed earlier, Power roared to the lead, held off runner-up Mikhail Aleshin, and third through fifth Ryan Hunter-Reay, Josef Newgarden and Sebastien Bourdais to capture his fourth win of the season.

“It was so hard to follow in traffic because we were started very light on downforce,” Power told NBCSN in victory lane. “We just kept adding and adding and adjusted on the car and it was just awesome in the end. It was very good in traffic.

“It’s a very good comeback, very happy to win here. I love winning 500 miles. This is one of the toughest ovals we race on, so I’m real happy for Verizon and our team.”

With the win, Power closes from 58 to just 20 points behind Pagenaud in the series standings with three races remaining. Pagenaud has 497 points, Power is second with 477, followed by Josef Newgarden (397), Scott Dixon (386), Helio Castroneves (384) and Tony Kanaan (380).

“That’s good, we’re chipping away at it but obviously there’s still a lot to go,” Power said. “Now, we’re giving everything to win this championship. It was a rough start to the year … but we’re really coming back strong.”

It was the 29th career IndyCar win for Power, who started Monday’s race from the eighth position. It also was the ninth Indy car win for Team Penske at Pocono.

When he missed the season opening race at St. Petersburg, Florida due to an inner-ear infection, Power feared his season may have been lost before it even began. But he has been the hottest driver in the series over the last six races with now four wins and two runner-up finishes.

I felt like this place owed us,” Power said of Pocono. “We’ve led a lot of laps here (86 over the last three races there, not including Monday). … Mikhail (Aleshin) was giving me a lot of heat there at the end. I was like, ‘Man is he going to get me?’  He was close … very strong.  That is as good as it gets. No mistakes. Great stops. As an overall team effort, that was as good of a day you could possible get. Thanks to my team!”

Aleshin, who started from the pole, dominated much of the first half of the race — he led a career-high 87 laps (coming into the race, Aleshin had led just 37 laps in total in his entire IndyCar career) — and was seeking his first career IndyCar win. Still, he equalled his best IndyCar finish ever (was also second at Houston in 2014).

“The team did an amazing job on all the pit stops, the car was good,” Aleshin said. “Unfortunately, in the end, I just couldn’t get to Will. He was just too fast. Seriously, I was on the edge. I almost crashed a couple times when I was behind him. I had the wiggles, I was losing front, but I just couldn’t get to him.”

Sixth through 10th were defending series champ Scott Dixon, Carlos Munoz, Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Kanaan and James Hinchcliffe.

Eleventh through 20th were Graham Rahal, Marco Andretti, Max Chilton, Jack Hawksworth, Charlie Kimball, Conor Daly, Pippa Mann, Simon Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves, and Alexander Rossi. Rounding out the field in the final two positions were Ed Carpenter and Takuma Sato.

Three major incidents occurred in the event:

* In an incident that could have significant implications on the championship battle, points leader Simon Pagenaud suffered a DNF when he was involved in a single-car wreck into the Turn 1 wall on Lap 158. Pagenaud, who has a series-high four wins this season, came into the race with a 58-point lead on Team Penske teammate Will Power.

MORE: Pagenaud wreck could have big championship battle implications

* On Lap 64, Alexander Rossi, Charlie Kimball and Helio Castroneves were involved in a wreck on pit road. Rossi’s car vaulted across the cockpit of Castroneves’ car, but the latter was uninjured, save for being struck slightly on his right hand.

MORE: Rossi, Kimball tangle on pit road, sending Rossi over Castroneves’ cockpit

* On the opening lap, Takuma Sato crashed hard but was uninjured.

The next Verizon IndyCar Series race will be this Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway, when the rain-postponed Firestone 600 resumes. The race will be televised at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

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Supercross points leader Eli Tomac finds silver linings in interruption

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Though his Monster Energy AMA Supercross championship charge was put on hold, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had a silver lining for Eli Tomac.

Off the road while the season was postponed for nearly three months, the points leader was able to be present as his girlfriend, Jessica, gave birth to their daughter, Lev, on April 26

“A huge blessing for us there,” Tomac told host Mike Tirico during a “Lunch Talk Live” interview (click on the video above) in which he also joked about becoming a pro at busting off diaper changes. “That was one good blessing for us as we had our daughter on a Sunday, that would have been on a travel day coming back from the race in Las Vegas.

NBCSN

“That was probably the only positive out of all this mess was being able to be there for the birth.”

But there also could be more good fortune for Tomac as the series resumes Sunday at Salt Lake City, Utah (3-4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, 4-6 p.m. on NBC).

The final seven events will be held over 22 days in Rice-Eccles Stadium, which sits at just over 4,000 feet.

The elevation could favor Tomac, who was born and lives in Colorado and is accustomed to riding and training at altitude, which is a departure for many Supercross riders (many of whom hail from California and Florida).

COVID-19 TESTING REQUIRED: Supercross outlines protocols for last seven races

“That’s going to be the test for us,” said the Kawasaki rider, who five of the first 10 races this season. “We’re at elevation in Salt Lake, so when you’re on a motorcycle, you have a little bit of a loss of power. That’s just what happens when you come up in elevation. And a lot of guys train at sea level, and we’re at 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so cardio-wise, we’ll be pushed to the limit.

“Most of our races are Saturday nights and back to back weeks, but this go around it’s Sunday and Wednesday, so recovery is going to be key.”

Supercross will race Sunday and Wednesday for the next three weeks, capping the season with the June 21 finale, which also will be shown on NBCSN from 3-4:30 p.m. ET and NBC from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

Tomac, who holds a three-point lead over Ken Roczen (who also recently visited “Lunch Talk Live”), told Tirico he had been riding for 90 minutes Thursday morning on a track outside Salt Lake City.

“Most of us we can rely on our past riding pretty well,” Tomac said. “The question is if you can go the distance. That’s what a lot of guys have to train on is going the distance. We go 20 minutes plus a lap. That’s what you’ve got to keep sharp is your general muscles. Within two to three days, your brain starts warming up more if you take a few weeks off the motorcycle.”

Here is the schedule and TV information for the rest of the season:

  • Sunday, May 31 (3-4 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4-6 p.m. ET, NBC);
  • Wednesday, June 3 ( 10:00 pm – 1:00 am ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 7 (5-8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 10 (7–10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 14 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Wednesday, June 17 (7-10 p.m. ET, NBCSN);
  • Sunday, June 21 (3-4:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN; 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. ET, NBC).
Eli Tomac rides his No. 3 Kawasaki in the Feb. 29 race at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia (Charles Mitchell/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).