Hunter-Reay wins carnage-filled Pocono race

Just 11 cars completed the race and two drivers have been transported to a local hospital.

Hunter-Reay wins carnage-filled Pocono race
Race start
Race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport Honda
Justin Wilson, Andretti Autosport Honda
Race start
Justin Wilson, Andretti Autosport Honda

Ryan Hunter-Reay won a bizarre one at Pocono on Sunday. In a race that lasted roughly four hours, the Andretti Autosport Honda driver held off Josef Newgarden and was out front when the final caution was called for Gabby Chaves, who suffered an engine failure.

This marks the second time this season and 16th time in his career that RHR has visited victory lane. Just 11 cars finished the crash-filled race, but the most serious incident was the last one.

Then-race leader Sage Karam crashed and debris from his car struck Justin Wilson in the head, who has been airlifted to a local hospital with a head injury. Karam was also taken to a local hospital via ground due to a right foot injury. 

RHR thinking about Wilson

"It was a fantastic race," said the race winner. "I mean, today's race was phenomenal. But first and foremost we're thinking about Justin. I actually thought when we won the race, just prior to that, I was told he was in the ambulance with Sage going to get checked. I thought everything was fine. Come to find out, it wasn't that straightforward.

"Thoughts and prayers with him. He has a family, just like I do. He's a great friend, a teammate. Can't say enough about the guy on and off the racetrack. Thinking about his family, for sure. His two daughters. Can't imagine.

"So, you know, these cars are inherently dangerous with the open cockpit like that, head exposed. Maybe in the future we can work towards some type of -- we've seen some concept renderings of something that resemble as canopy, not a full jet fighter canopy, but something that can give us a little protection but keep the tradition of the sport."

Title battle shifts in favor of Montoya

Graham Rahal took a massive hit in the points and on the race track when he and Tristan Vautier had a coming together. The title hopeful finished 20th and heads into the finale 34 points back of Juan Pablo Montoya, who finished third. Scott Dixon remains third, 47 points adrift of the Team Penske driver. With double points on the line, Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Josef Newgarden are also still eligible.

"Unfortunately, just driving against a guy there who isn't using his head," Rahal said of Vautier. "He's a part-timer, trying to prove himself again. He did mistakes like this his first year, lost his ride and it's a hard thing. I think Tristan is a talented guy, but in a position like that, you just don't do that."

After two aborted starts, the race was very stop-and-go with twelve cautions. Along with the aforementioned drivers, Helio Castroneves, Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball, Jack Hawksworth, and Sebastien Bourdais crashed out of the race in various incidents.

Inexperience shows at Pocono

"To be honest with you, a lot of these guys here are not used to oval racing. They're not used to the give-and-take. They don't understand the give-and-take," Montoya said of the unusually high attrition during in this 500-miler.

"The young kids, they don't understand it. They race lap five like it's the last two laps of the race and they're going for a win, when they're running 18th. It's amazing. That causes a lot of the crashes.

"We're going way too fast."

With the new aero kits, the racing at Pocono turned out to be a mutation of what we saw at Indianapolis with a large pack of cars snaking down the straights and drivers attempting to overtake before entering the corner.

Despite frequent yellows with over 25 percent of the race behind the pace car, there were still a total of 34 lead changes between twelve different drivers. Newgarden led the most laps at 47.

Race results

Pos. No. Driver Team Laps Race Time
28 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport 200 3:25'08.1095
67 Josef Newgarden CFH Racing 200 3:25'08.2148
2 Juan Pablo Montoya Team Penske 200 3:25'08.6791
1 Will Power Team Penske 200 3:25'09.5802
26 Carlos Munoz Andretti Autosport 200 3:25'10.1098
14 Takuma Sato A. J. Foyt Enterprises 200 3:25'11.6262
22 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske 200 3:25'12.6120
5 Ryan Briscoe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 200 3:25'12.9092
9 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing 200 3:25'13.7952
10  7 James Jakes Schmidt Peterson Motorsports 200 3:25'14.4089
11  98 Gabby Chaves Bryan Herta Autosport 197 3:21'56.8043
12  83 Charlie Kimball Chip Ganassi Racing 193 3:18'33.0223
13  18 Pippa Mann Dale Coyne Racing 185 3:25'16.0246
14  8 Sage Karam Chip Ganassi Racing 179 2:55'14.5242
15  25 Justin Wilson Andretti Autosport 179 2:55'18.7599
16  3 Helio Castroneves Team Penske 166 2:41'23.3630
17  20 Ed Carpenter CFH Racing 156 2:32'09.5754
18  27 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport 138 2:11'46.7356
19  10 Tony Kanaan Chip Ganassi Racing 131 2:02'32.4075
20  15 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing 92 1:20'46.5302
21  19 Tristan Vautier Dale Coyne Racing 92 1:20'46.8264
22  41 Jack Hawksworth A. J. Foyt Enterprises 82 1:09'31.9701
23  11 Sebastien Bourdais KV Racing Technology 36 30'44.3424
24  4 Stefano Coletti KV Racing Technology 19 14'33.5287

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