Alexander Rossi, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Graham Rahal and a heroic Ryan Hunter-Reay were among seven Honda drivers to contend for victory Sunday at Pocono Raceway, the second and final 500-mile race of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series. But a third-place result for Rossi was the highlight for Honda, as an off-sequence pit strategy paid huge dividends for Penske Racing, with Will Power and Josef Newgarden finishing 1-2 at the end of 200 hard-fought laps.
Seven Honda drivers combined to lead 160 laps of Sunday’s race on the 2.5-mile Pocono tri-oval, and dominated the first half of the contest, with Kanaan and Rossi establishing themselves at the front of the field through the first round of pit stops. Dixon moved to the front of the field during the second stint, and led a race-high 51 laps in search of his second victory of the season.
Meanwhile, Hunter-Reay worked his way to the front after a massive crash in qualifying left him bruised and battered, and starting at the rear of the 22-car starting grid. But at the 100-lap mark, it was Hunter-Reay leading Rossi, Dixon and Rahal at the front of the field. Kanaan came to the fore on Lap 122, and would lead 32 laps in an entertaining battle with Rahal – who would lead nine laps – before a broken front wing mount slowed Kanaan in the closing laps, and dropped him to a fifth-place finish.
A caution flag for a crash involving James Hinchcliffe and JR Hildebrand slowed the field on Lap 124, and set into motion the strategy calls that eventually determined the outcome of the race. The Penske duo of Power and Newgarden, as well as the Andretti Autosport Honda of Marco Andretti, all pitted out-of-sequence during this caution, enabling them to run a series of fast, solo laps and make up ground on the rest of the field.
After leading nine laps, Andretti needed to make a fuel-only stop on Lap 190, taking him out of contention for the win and moving Power to the front. Newgarden made his way past Kanaan and Rossi for second, with Dixon rounding out the top six finishers for Honda, two places behind defending series champion Simon Pagenaud.
|Video by||Honda Racing/HPD|
|Drivers||Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Graham Rahal, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alexander Rossi|