I said earlier in my writing career that bringing back the Triple Crown would be a good thing for IndyCar. It gives the series some pinaccle events and the $1,000,000 cash prize for a driver that can win all 3 races is a nice bonus as well. Going back to Pocono, a track rich in IndyCar history to complete the Triple Crown sounded like a good fit.
On paper, it all sounded good, but you have to be realistic at the same time and it can be hit or miss. The crowd could be bad and the race can come and go like New Hampshire did in 2011.
After Sunday’s Pocono IndyCar 400, I would say that it is safe to say that it was a hit.
The on track product was great. From the unexpected turn of luck for Andretti Autosport to Chip Ganassi Racing subsequent triumph after a season of disappointment, the story is one to remember. All 4 Andretti Autosport cars had their problems, but the hardest hit had to be with Marco Andretti. He led every session since Thursday testing and was poised to win until fuel strategy took him out of contention after leading over half the race.
A bit like Texas, the long green flag run made the teams and drivers have to figure out the best strategy. In the end, the Chevrolet powerplants did not get the same fuel mileage as their Honda counterparts and that made all the difference in the end as the Ganassi cars of Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball and Dario Franchitti swept the podium.
Seeing Dixon and Franchitti climb thru the pack after suffering 10 place grid penalties shows the determination of the Ganassi Pair as well as Honda despite a such a frustrating season.
Tony Kanaan’s quest for the Triple Crown was another interesting element. Drivers take bonuses where they can get them, and a cool million dollars was on the line for TK. Had it not been for a mistake with contact with Dixon, he very well may have been the one holding the trophy at the end of the day.
With IndyCar being gone so long, I was initially expecting the turnout to be very thin. As it turned out, the crowd was very good. It wasn’t a sellout, but it met expectations. With tickets being a bargin (as low as $25 dollars and kids tickets being $12.50), that helped put butts in the seats.
Whether it being old timers that watched big names such as Andretti, Foyt, Unser, Donohue, Mears, Sullivan and Rutherford coming back to bring their kids and grandkids to watch the stars of today, NASCAR fans intrigued by something different or just IndyCar fans in general, the IndyCar fanbase in the Pocono mountains is still there despite being gone so long.
At the end of the day Brandon Igdalsky deserves a tip of the hat for bringing IndyCar back to Pocono as well as Former INDYCAR CEO Randy Bernard putting it all together. With the fans supporting the race as well as those who watched it on TV and will be tempted to try it in person, the turnout can be expected to grow for the next few years.
If the race can be increased to 500 miles, it would all be perfect.