Pocono wants IndyCar to return but series hasn’t responded

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LONG POND, Pennsylvania – Pocono Raceway President Ben May and CEO Nick Igdalsky are emphatic that they want the 2.5-mile triangle-shaped speedway to remain part of the NTT IndyCar Series schedule.

INDYCAR officials, however, have not responded and as of Saturday night, have not met with either May or Igdalsky fueling speculation that Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 may be the last time Indy cars compete at the legendary track that was designed and built specifically for this type of racing.

IndyCar racing dates all the way back to the track’s opening in 1971.

Pocono’s time with Indy car racing has had several challenges. It was a major race on the schedule from 1971 to 1989, but after the ’89 race, the sanctioning body at that time, CART, dropped Pocono from its schedule.

It did not return until the current INDYCAR sanctioning body added it to the 2013 schedule.

“Nick and I would like to have IndyCar back and undoubtedly, it’s in their court right now,” May told NBC Sports.com Saturday. “If it’s not in the cards, we are ok. We hate it for the fans. That is the most disappointing part; if this was their last opportunity to see IndyCar racing, it’s a shame we wouldn’t have been able to tell them that.”

May and Igdalsky have said there has been double-digit growth every year in attendance. INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles and some series team owners, however, don’t believe the crowds of about 20,000 to 25,000 big enough to return.

INDYCAR is considering replacing this event with a race at Richmond International Raceway – a three-quarter-mile short track that hosted the IndyCar Series from 2001-2009.

“We’re a little bit up on attendance from last year and based on the forecast for Sunday, which looks decent,” May said. “I would anticipate the crowd to be up.

“The race is sponsored, and the crowd should be up.”

Next year, both of Pocono’s NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series races will be held on the same weekend in June, creating a double-header. That could make an IndyCar Series weekend even more attractive to Northeastern race fans in 2020.

“We treat all of our events equally,” May said. “We treat IndyCar, the same as we treat NASCAR. We’re treating the Air Show next weekend the same as we treat IndyCar. We don’t play that game. We treat everybody the same.

“If IndyCar is not in the cards, this company and this family won’t lay down and say, ‘Well, we’ll just have one Cup weekend and that will be it.’ Maybe it won’t be racing but something else.

“But we would love to have an amazing schedule with a race in June, a race in July and a race in August.”

May said INDYCAR has yet to request another meeting before Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 NTT IndyCar Series race. However on Sunday, both INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles and INDYCAR Vice President Stephen Starks arrived at the track. When asked about whether INDYCAR would return to Pocono, Miles told NBC Sports.com, “Let’s see what today’s crowd looks like.”

Igdalsky later told NBC Sports.com that he met with Starks and indicated that he was “sincere” in his attitude involving Pocono Raceway’s situation.

Pocono is even willing to be part of a three-race rotation in the Northeast including Watkins Glen International and Richmond International Raceway. Under that arrangement, each track would rotate a race date on the IndyCar Series schedule, meaning IndyCar would compete at that track once every three years.

“Stephen was asking me for more details on the rotation and wanted to talk to me some more regarding that,” Igdalsky told NBC Sports.com.

Starks also spoke briefly with NBC Sports.com and said, “We haven’t said anything yet because we haven’t made a final decision yet. The schedule remains to be finalized and we are in the process of coming to a decision.”

Some of the critics think Indy cars have outgrown Pocono Raceway and the speeds are too fast for safety. But auto racing has always had an inherent amount of danger, which is part of its dark allure.

“This is a very fast, very dangerous game that everybody plays,” May said. “The show is amazing. It’s a great show.

“Unfortunately, it has some very sad times.”

One of those came in the 2015 NTT IndyCar Series race when Justin Wilson was killed after the nosecone from Sage Karam’s crashed car hit him in the helmet. He died the next day.

Another came in last year’s ABC Supply 500 when Robert Wickens because paralyzed from the waist down after a horrific crash in Turn 2 that launched him into the tire fence. Wickens survived and had made remarkable recovery in his rehabilitation.

The drivers, however, look fear in the eye and don’t flinch at Pocono.

“I love this track,” said 2013 Pocono winner and five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon. “We haven’t probably had the best runs in the last couple years, but that’s what makes it so good when you do get it right. It’s very difficult to get the combination with one and three correct, feel comfortable around the circuit.

“I hope we do come back. We just have to wait and see, I guess.”

Will Power is a two-time Pocono winner with back-to-back victories in 2016 and 2017. He was second at Pocono last year.

“I love the track,” Power told NBC Sports.com “I love it. Obviously, it’s always a proud moment when you win a race. If you win back-to-back 500-milers, it’s a big deal.

“It’s a cool track. I feel like the more ovals, the better for me. I really enjoy them. It would kind of be disappointing if it went away. Obviously, I had nothing to do with that. It’s obviously INDYCAR negotiating.

“Hopefully I can get another one.”

May believes that auto racing is unlike stick-and-ball sports because fans can attend a baseball or football game and still have part of the day to do other things. Auto racing, however, is usually an all-day affair where crowds travel from a great distance to get to the track, spend hours watching the race, then have to travel the same distance home.

“One-third of the US population lives within 300 miles of Pocono Raceway,” May said. “That is a fact. Why they are not here in droves? I don’t have that answer.

“Our marketing is strong. We put equal marketing in this race as we do the NASCAR race. No doubt, IndyCar has shown impressive growth and growth is real. And we like being part of it.

“All we continue to say is we would like to see them here next year.”

IndyCar results, points after Detroit Grand Prix


DETROIT — Alex Palou topped the results of an NTT IndyCar Series race for the second time this season, extending his championship points lead with his victory in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

The Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who also won the GMR Grand Prix (and the Indy 500 pole position) last month, holds a 51-point lead over teammate Marcus Ericsson (ninth at Detroit) through seven of 17 races this season.

Ganassi, which placed all four of its drivers in the top 10 at Detroit, has three of the top four in the championship standings with Scott Dixon ranked fourth after a fourth at Detroit.

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Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden is third in the standings after taking a 10th at Detroit. Pato O’Ward slipped to fifth in the points after crashing and finishing 26th

Here are the IndyCar results and points standings after the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix:


Click here for the official box score from the 100-lap race on a nine-turn, 1.645-mile street course in downtown Detroit.

Lap leader summary

Full lap chart

Best section times

Full section data

Event summary

Pit stop summary

Here is the finishing order in the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix with starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (1) Alex Palou, Honda, 100, Running
2. (7) Will Power, Chevrolet, 100, Running
3. (9) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 100, Running
4. (4) Scott Dixon, Honda, 100, Running
5. (13) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 100, Running
6. (12) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 100, Running
7. (2) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 100, Running
8. (11) Marcus Armstrong, Honda, 100, Running
9. (6) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 100, Running
10. (5) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 100, Running
11. (24) Colton Herta, Honda, 100, Running
12. (17) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 100, Running
13. (8) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 100, Running
14. (20) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 100, Running
15. (15) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 100, Running
16. (18) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 100, Running
17. (25) Jack Harvey, Honda, 100, Running
18. (14) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 100, Running
19. (23) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 100, Running
20. (19) Benjamin Pedersen, Chevrolet, 97, Running
21. (22) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 97, Running
22. (26) Sting Ray Robb, Honda, 97, Running
23. (21) David Malukas, Honda, 85, Contact
24. (3) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 80, Contact
25. (27) Graham Rahal, Honda, 50, Contact
26. (10) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 41, Contact
27. (16) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 1, Contact

Winner’s average speed: 80.922 mph; Time of Race: 02:01:58.1171; Margin of victory: 1.1843 seconds; Cautions: 7 for 32 laps; Lead changes: 10 among seven drivers. Lap Leaders: Palou 1-28; Power 29-33; O’Ward 34; Palou 35-55; Power 56-64; Palou 65; Rossi 66; Newgarden 67-68; Kirkwood 69; Ericsson 70-76; Palou 77-100.


Click here for the points tally in the race.

Here are the points standings after the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix:



Engine manufacturers

Pit stop performance

Top 10 in points: Palou 273, Ericsson 222, Newgarden 203, Dixon 194, O’Ward 191, Rossi 176, McLaughlin 175, Power 172, Herta 149, Rosenqvist 148.

Rest of the standings: Grosjean 145, Kirkwood 142, Lundgaard 136, Ilott 116, VeeKay 108, Ferrucci 105, Armstrong 101, Rahal 99, Malukas 91, Daly 88, DeFrancesco 81, Castroneves 80, Harvey 78, Canapino 77, Pagenaud 72, Pedersen 61, Robb 55, Takuma Sato 37, Ed Carpenter 27, Ryan Hunter-Reay 20, Tony Kanaan 18, Marco Andretti 13, RC Enerson 5, Katherine Legge 5.

Next race: IndyCar will head to Road America for the Sonsio Grand Prix, which will take place June 18 with coverage starting at 1 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.