Hunter-Reay speaks out about incidents that led up to Pocono crash

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Ryan Hunter-Reay was so dumbfounded that some thought he triggered the first-lap crash at Pocono on Sunday, the 2012 NTT IndyCar Series champion and 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner showed his own video to prove that the crash happened without his involvement.

Hunter-Reay used an NBC Sports video of the crash shot from Turn 2 that showed Sato and Alexander Rossi already crashing with Hunter-Reay’s car in its own lane. He sent that video out on Twitter.

The Lap 1 crash was the second year in a row that the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono had to be stopped because of a massive crash at the start of the contest. Last year in the same portion of the track, Robert Wickens’ car ran over the back of Hunter-Reay’s and was launched into the fence. Wickens suffered serious injuries and remains paralyzed from the waist down.

This year, it was driver Felix Rosenqvist that ended up in the fence in the aftermath of the Sato incident that also included Alexander Rossi.

On Tuesday, Sato had released an onboard video shot from his Honda that showed his hands did not move on the steering wheel. That created a brief Twitter storm where some actually accused Hunter-Reay of initiating the contact.

The NBC Sports video clearly shows that he did not. But with three cars running three-abreast entering Turn 2 at Pocono Raceway, there was zero room for error.

“Takuma was third man in, he was the aggressor on that,” Hunter-Reay told NBC Sports.com Wednesday. “I gave Alex plenty of room. I think from the time you exit Turn 1 as you are going into Turn 2, we take our natural line we take on any lap which is you exit up by the wall, come down to the left and then arc it back up to the right to set up for the corner.

“But as Takuma said in his interview immediately after the accident when you get the clearest, most unbiased response from drivers, he said he thought he was clear. He was coming down and it looked that way, too. Maybe his spotter told him he was clear, or he misjudged it and thought he was clear.”

Hunter-Reay said steering wheel inputs do not indicate the movement of the car because steering loads are adjusted by each driver and crew. Also, an onboard camera shows a very narrow view, where the Turn 2 camera shows a much wider view of the entire field.

“You wouldn’t even be able to see the hand movement and the car will move,” Hunter-Reay said. “The angle from Turn 2 to Turn 1, the one that I posted, it shows everything. Alex and I at the time of the incident are driving straight, we aren’t moving unpredictably or squeezing each other.

“Taku joined the party, he was the third man in, he came across Alex’s nose because he thought he was clear.

“Like I said on my Tweet, I find it hard to believe people are actually debating this. It’s unfortunate it happened; it’s racing, and it was a misjudgment.”

(Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Hunter-Reay said there are some seams in the asphalt at Pocono that can grab a car’s tires, but he believes Sato was trying to gradually get into Scott Dixon’s draft, he thought he was clear, and tried to pull in front of Rossi, but Rossi’s Honda was still there.

NBC Sports.com attempted to get an additional comment from Alexander Rossi, but he declined, saying he “is focused ahead on the race this weekend and the championship ahead and is not concerned about the incident any longer.”

Sato and Hunter-Reay were teammates at Andretti Autosport in 2017 when Sato won the 101stIndianapolis 500. Hunter-Reay said the two drivers remain friends, but he wanted to clear up the misconception that Hunter-Reay somehow started the incident.

“You have to look at all angles to determine what happened,” Hunter-Reay said. “It’s a sensitive subject because it’s Pocono. We have had some pretty big incidents there, and that doesn’t have to do with Pocono or not.

“That’s why this has had so much more focus on it.”

Supercross: Tomac, Roczen square off in Arlington; Webb gives chase

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The Monster Energy Supercross championship battle remains tight after Eli Tomac took the lead from Ken Roczen just last week at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Now the series heads to Arlington, Texas, and the AT&T Stadium for Round 8. (Watch on NBCSN or stream live.)

Tomac’s third win of the 2020 season and Roczen’s third-place finish at Tampa gives Tomac a four-point advantage in what is essentially a wide-open title fight with three races on tap in Arlington.

And while it is still much too early to call this a two-man battle, Cooper Webb is 11 points back with Justin Barcia 20 points out and Adam Cianciarulo 27 points in arrears – and all three cannot afford to lose any ground this week.

Tomac has the momentum. He allowed the field to get a jump after finishing seventh at Anaheim in the season opener, but finished fourth or better in the remaining events.

Roczen also got off to a slow start in Anaheim 1 with a sixth-place finish. He seemed to have a firm grasp on the red plate with four consecutive podium finishes until he slipped to sixth for a second time at San Diego.

Webb is coming into his own with three consecutive podiums in the last three events. If not for a 12th at St. Louis, he would be in immediate contention for the red plate.

This week is the second Triple Crown race of the season and Roczen hopes he has the same success as he did at Glendale. He won all three Mains that weekend and easily walked away with the overall victory. Tomac finished 2-2-3 for second overall. It is going to be imperative that a rider takes the early lead.

Blake Baggett qualified for last week’s Main, but chose to sit it out after experiencing sever muscle spasms. He will ride in Arlington.

Henry Miller will return to riding at Arlington after breaking a scapula in Australia.

Subscribe to the Supercross Pass for complete qualification and race coverage of the 2020 season.

For the third time in his career, Shane McElrath started the season with a victory. He won the season-opener in 2017 and 2018 in the West division at Anaheim, but failed to lock down a 250 title. His seventh career win moved him to 25th on the chart, however, with Travis Pastrana, Trey Canard, and a host of others.

Chase Sexton got his title hunt off to a strong start last week as well. He finished second to earn his 10th podium in 19 starts, but he will be hungry for a win. Despite the fact that he won last year’s 250 West championship, he has only one race victory to his credit.

Last week, Jeremy Martin looked like he had not been off his bike for more than a year. Returning from a 2018 injury, Martin snagged a podium finish in his first race back.

Schedule:

Qualifying: 1 p.m. on NBC Sports Gold
Race: 8:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Gold and NBCSN

Last Week:

Eli Tomac beat Cooper Webb and Ken Roczen in the 450 class.
Shane McElrath beat Chase Sexton and Jeremy Martin in the 250 class.

Last Dallas race (February, 2019):

Cooper Webb beat Ken Roczen and Marvin Musquin in the 450 class.
Austin Forkner beat Justin Cooper and Chase Sexton in the 250 class.

Points Leaders

450s:
Eli Tomac (155)
Ken Roczen (151)
Cooper Webb (144)
Justin Barcia (135)
Adam Cianciarulo (128)

250 West:
Dylan Ferrandis (135)
Justin Cooper (128)
Austin Forkner (122)
Brandon Hartranft (110)
Alex Martin (98)

250 East:
Shane McElrath (26)
Chase Sexton (23)
Jeremy Martin (21)
Garrett Marchbanks (19)
Jordon Smith (18)

Wins

450

(3) Eli Tomac (Anaheim 2, Oakland and Tampa)
(2) Ken Roczen (St. Louis and Glendale)
(1) Justin Barcia (Anaheim 1)
(1) Cooper Webb (San Diego)

250 West

(3) Dylan Ferrandis (Anaheim 2, Oakland, and San Diego)
(2) Austin Forkner (St. Louis and Glendale)
(1) Justin Cooper (Anaheim 1)

250 East

(1) Shane McElrath (Tampa)

Top-5s

450

(6) Eli Tomac
(6) Cooper Webb
(5) Jason Anderson
(5) Ken Roczen
(5) Justin Barcia
(3) Adam Cianciarulo
(2) Zach Osborne
(2) Blake Baggett
(1) Justin Hill

250 West

(5) Dylan Ferrandis
(5) Austin Forkner
(5) Justin Cooper
(4) Michael Mosiman
(4) Brandon Hartranft
(3) Alex Martin
(1) Christian Craig
(1) Jett Lawrence
(1) Jacob Hayes
(1) Luke Clout

250 East

(1) Shane McElrath
(1) Chase Sexton
(1) Jeremy Martin
(1) Garrett Marchbanks
(1) Jordon Smith

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