Scott Dixon, driver of the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, made history at Pocono Raceway in the IZOD IndyCar Series as the eighth different winner in eleven races, scoring his 30th career win, as well as the 200th win for Honda and the 100th team finish for team Target.
“Going into this morning, I was not thinking we could win,” Dixon said. “The team definitely hasn’t given up and you’ve got to hand it to Honda as well.”
“The fuel mileage was the key today and we still had speed up front without having to save all the time.”
“I don’t know what to say,” Dixon continued. “It’s the 100th win for Target as well which is just so fantastic.”
“It’s been a long drought, almost a year, so it’s fantastic to be back in winner’s circle.”
With the return of IndyCar Racing to Pocono Raceway for the first time since 1989, Team Ganassi also made history, finishing one, two, three for the first time ever in any form of competition, including IZOD IndyCar Series, CART, NASCAR or GRAND-AM.
With teammate Scott Dixon in Victory Lane, Charlie Kimball, behind the wheel of the No. 83 NovoLog FlexPen Honda for Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing, finished second, and teammate Dario Franchitti, behind the wheel of the No. 10 Energizer Honda for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, finished third.
“The whole Chip Ganassi Racing crew, as evidenced by the 1-2-3 finish, was focusing on race day knowing that’s when it mattered,” Kimball, who matched his career best finish of second, said. “Throughout today, the guys made it better on each pit stop and the car just got quicker and quicker.”
“A lot of credit to Honda, they gave us the fuel mileage and speed today.”
“The Honda today, it’s so good on fuel mileage and that really, really helped us,” Franchitti, the third place finisher, said. “We went for a very aggressive downforce so every lap was an adventure.”
“It was a good day.”
“I had no idea we’d finish one, two, three after coming back late from Daytona,” Chip Ganassi, team owner, said. “When I got out of bed this morning, I wouldn’t have guessed this.”
“I actually forgot that the next win would have been our 100th; it’s been so long since we’ve had a win,” Ganassi continued. “It’s a really great place to do it – in Pennsylvania, my home state.”
“It’s great for the Series to have a 1-2-3 finish,” Ganassi said. “Honda needed a boost.”
“The drivers did a great job and the team did a great job,” Ganassi continued. “Hopefully we’ve turned the corner.”
Will Power finished fourth in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. This was Power’s third top-five finish of the season.
“I didn’t realize Charlie (Kimball) was for position,” Power said. “It was quite tough to pass.”
“It was physical but a lovely track,” Power continued. “There was a good crowd and it was a good race.”
“But it was an awesome day for Verizon.”
Josef Newgarden, driving the No. 67 SFH Racing/Rotondo Weirich for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing, rounded out the top-five, matching his best IndyCar Series finish of fifth in Sao Paulo.
“We had a great day,” Newgarden said. “To get representable results, I’m super pleased for all our guys.”
“Pocono is incredible,” Newgarden continued. “I wasn’t even born that time they had the last race here.”
“We’ve got to come back here because it’s an IndyCar track,” Newgarden said. “I’m super pleased for our group.”
The race was not without drama as James Hinchcliffe, driver of the No. 27 GoDaddy Chevrolet, wrecked on the very first lap.
“I’m not entirely sure what happened,” Hinchcliffe said. “We’ll have to take a look at it.”
“The car just snapped loose on me,” Hinchcliffe continued. “We went a bit aggressive on setup because we had an understeering car all week, and we didn’t want that in the race.”
“Maybe we overstepped it a bit; I’m not quite sure,” Hinchcliffe said. “It’s a 400-mile race so to go out on Lap 1 is just devastating.”
“It’s really unfortunate.”
Another pair of unhappy campers was Ryan Hunter-Reay, driver of the No. 1 DHL Chevrolet, and Takuma Sato, behind the wheel of the No. 14 ABC Supply Co/A.J. Foyt Racing Honda, who collided on pit road.
“I think I misjudged it,” Sato said. “Extremely sorry.”
“It was my fault.”
“I couldn’t believe it,” Hunter-Reay said. “I thought a plane crashed in there.”
“I didn’t expect it would have been Sato,” Hunter-Reay continued. “We had a great car to challenge for the win and then get creamed from behind.”
“He unplugged his brain entirely,” Hunter-Reay said. “It’s just so frustrating when someone comes from nowhere completely unglued.”
Hunter-Reay admitted that the hard hit on pit road exacerbated an injury with which he has been struggling.
“I have to go get my thumb x-rayed now,” Hunter-Reay said. “That made it worse than it was before.”
“It is what it is and we’ll deal with it.”
The most upset driver, however, was hometown hero and third generation driver Marco Andretti. The driver of the No. 25 RC Cola Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport finished tenth after leading a race high 88 laps and sitting on the pole.
This was the fifth race this season in which Andretti led and the fourth oval race he has led. Yet he still remains winless for the 2013 season.
“I’m so frustrated right now,” Andretti said after the race. “We were so dominant.”
“I’m just absolutely gutted,” Andretti continued. “I just sat there and watched the lead go away from me and it ripped my guts out.”
Helio Castroneves, driver of the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, finished eighth and extended his points lead to 23 over Ryan Hunter-Reay after the Pocono IndyCar 400 Fueled by Sunoco.
“For us getting a lot of points in the championship is fantastic,” Castroneves said. “It was a tough race.”
“It was a lot of thinking and I’m terrible at thinking!” Castroneves continued. “It’s one of those races that nobody knows what to do.”
“It was crazy and quite exciting,” Castroneves said. “At the end of the day, it was a great day for championship and that’s what we’ve got to think.”