Sato steals Pocono pole; more heavy accidents pepper qualifying (VIDEO)

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Takuma Sato has won the pole for Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 after a chaotic qualifying session for Round 14 of 17 in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, snatching the pole in the final opportunity.

Sato was the final car to run and knocked off then polesitter Simon Pagenaud with a two-lap average speed of 219.639 mph. Further, his lap 1 speed of 220.045 mph was the only lap above the 220 mph mark during qualifying.

An elated Sato was happy to achieve a noteworthy result at a track where has has struggled at times, with three finishes of 21st or worse in his four previous starts.

“I’m really happy. I always have enjoyed Pocono in the past years. I’ve had a difficult experience, but I’ve always enjoyed it. We haven’t had a win here yet and hopefully we can get that with Expedite Home Loans this weekend. That’s why putting down on pole here is something very special. Especially after Indy 500, coming to another 500 race, with entire crew from the No. 26 and Expedite Home Loans, who is family of Ruoff Home Mortgage, which was on our car for the Indy 500. The team did an outstanding job. I have to say big thank you to Michael (Andretti) and all Andretti Autosport. I am very happy,” Sato said after his run.

Charlie Kimball (219.369 mph) held the pole for most of the afternoon in his No. 83 Tresiba Honda, as the American was looking for his second pole of the year after winning the Verizon P1 Award at Texas Motor Speedway.

But Pagenaud (219.395 mph) eclipsed Kimball with just five cars to go, in the No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet, to take over the top spot.

Pagenaud then had to hold off a trio of Andretti Autosport cars – Marco Andretti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Takuma Sato – to ensure he solidified his second pole of the year (Toronto). But it didn’t happen.

Andretti fell off the map on his second lap and fell to 15th.

Hunter-Reay, who led this morning’s lone practice session, had an even worse ending with a heavy accident in Turn 3. He lost the back end through Turn 3 in his No. 28 DHL Honda and needed help from the Holmatro Safety Team to get into the medical car, as he exited his car gingerly. Further updates on his status will follow later today, although as of 3:10 p.m. ET, INDYCAR issued he was being transported to a nearby hospital.

Then Sato dropped the fastest two lap average of the day in the No. 26 Expedite Home Loans Honda for Andretti Autosport, with the fastest single lap at 220.045 and an average at 219.639 mph.

Two other big names will start from the back of the grid. Helio Castroneves had an accident in qualifying in Turn 1, and was unable to finish his run, while Ed Carpenter didn’t get to make a qualifying attempt as his car was a few minutes too late into technical inspection following an accident in practice earlier in the morning.

Beyond the top three, Tony Kanaan and Will Power completed the top five, Gabby Chaves impressed mightily in eighth for Harding Racing and both Dale Coyne Racing cars outqualified championship leader Josef Newgarden, who fought understeer and only lines up 14th.

Results are below.

RESULTS

LONG POND, Pennsylvania – Qualifying Saturday for the ABC Supply 500 Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway, with qualifying position, car number in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, and speed:

1. (26) Takuma Sato, Honda, 219.639 mph
2. (1) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 219.395 mph
3. (83) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 219.369    mph
4. (10) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 219.012 mph
5. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 218.688 mph
6. (98) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 218.622    mph
7. (15) Graham Rahal, Honda, 218.099 mph
8. (88) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 218.020 mph
9. (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 217.819 mph
10. (8) Max Chilton, Honda, 217.748 mph
11. (19) Ed Jones, Honda, 217.565 mph
12. (5) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 217.556 mph
13. (18) Esteban Gutierrez, Honda, 217.292 mph
14. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 217.235 mph
15. (7) Sebastian Saavedra, Honda, 216.943 mph
16. (27) Marco Andretti, Honda, 216.801    mph
17. (4) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 215.964 mph
18. (14) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 215.115 mph
19. (21) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 214.988 mph
20. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, no speed
21. (28) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, no speed
22. (20) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, no speed

NBCSN will present ‘Race and Sports in America: Conversations’ Monday

NBCSN
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With motor racing reckoning with its own issues of diversity and equality, “Race and Sports in America: Conversations” will tackle the topics of social justice with several athletes. The show will air at 8 p.m. ET Monday, July 13 on NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic channel and on regional sports networks.

The roundtable discussions will be hosted by Damon Hack and feature Charles Barkley, Steph Curry, Jimmy Rollins and Ozzie Smith in one segment. The other segment will include Kyle Rudolph, Anthony Lynn, Troy Mullins and James Blake.

Race has been a major topic in motorsports this year.

NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at its race after lobbying by Bubba Wallace, the only Black driver in the premier Cup Series. In Formula One, six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton has joined Black Lives Matter marches in London and also formed a panel on diversity. The lone Black driver in F1 also led 14 of 20 drivers taking a knee before the season opener in Austria.