Last Thursday, on the eve of the Pocono IndyCar 500, Pocono track president Brandon Igdalsky made headlines when he said that ticket sales were “scary” when compared to last year’s race. He went on to say that he wasn’t sure if his facility would fulfill the final race in the contract for next year. In 2013, open-wheel racing returned to the Poconos after a twenty-three year absence. The first year back produced a surprisingly good crowd of 30,000 to 35,000 that brought a smile to Igdalsky’s face. It was thought that the decent crowd size was a good number to start from as the event grew over the next few years.
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What started out as a race of strategy and little action, developed into quite a race in the latter stages. The Pocono IndyCar 500 ran a total of 159 laps before Graham Rahal spun and brought out the only yellow of the afternoon. While Will Power and Juan Montoya seemed content to play the fuel mileage game, Tony Kanaan wanted to run up front. Kanaan led the most laps of the day, but a botched fuel strategy backfired allowing Montoya and Helio Castroneves to coast to a Penske one-two victory.
A year ago, the return to Pocono Raceway to the schedule was one of the most anticipated events of the season. It was the first time open-wheel cars had run at the Tricky Triangle, since Danny Sullivan piloted his Penske/Chevy to victory in 1989.
Many have probably come here today thinking I would go off on a rant about the old scoring pylon at IMS coming down on Monday afternoon. After all, rumor has it that it is to be replaced by something similar to a vertical ribbon-board reminiscent of what’s found running around every stadium in the NFL. Well, before I get jagged out over another iconic landmark at IMS giving way to some modern gadgetry, I will withhold judgment until I see what is supposed to be in its place by mid-July. I’m told by those I trust that at most times, it will look just like the pylon it replaced – except you’ll be able to see it better. Other times, it may morph into some type of vertical video board. If it is as I’ve been told by those that know – I won’t have a huge problem with it. Therefore, I’ll withhold any rants for now.
There are a lot of adjectives you could use to describe the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston, but there is one word that you could not possibly use – parade. The Verizon IndyCar Series put on a whale of a show this weekend. Between the craziness of Saturday and the insanity of yesterday, I’m not sure when I’ve seen a more entertaining and unpredictable weekend of street racing in the many years that I have followed this sport.
This weekend, the Verizon IndyCar Series returns to the great state of Texas for the second event in a row. The last time the series turned a wheel in competition was at Texas Motor Speedway on June 7th, which seems like it was three months ago instead of three weeks.
This weekend there will be, not one, but two races when the Verizon IndyCar Series takes to the streets (and parking lots) of Houston for the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. This will be the second of three double-header weekends over an eight-week period.