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Here’s What Drivers are Saying about this weekend’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway

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Here’s what drivers are saying about this weekend’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway:

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “Having a few weeks off before we really get going back into the championship hunt was great. I was able to visit the Hole in the Wall Camp with SeriousFun (Children’s Network) and had a lot of fun with some really great kids. I also spent time with family and friends as well, which was refreshing. But now, it’s time to shift gears back to focus on defending the championship for the No. 1 Hitachi Chevrolet. Pocono is a difficult track and, with a lot of really strong competition, it’s not an easy place to win. Team Penske tends to perform strong there and I know we have all the right people in place to give us the best car possible to make a run for the win. Every lap really counts between now and the end of the season. We need to be consistent and not make mistakes.”

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Very excited to be racing at Pocono Raceway this weekend. The test last week was very productive, but we still have some areas to improve. Such a different and tricky track to drive, but I like it. It will be a great weekend and I’m looking forward to meeting all of the ABC Supply family over there. Hopefully, we’re gonna have a great race and bring them a great result.”


JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): “Well, the last 500-mile race we had (Indianapolis 500) didn’t go so well for us, so it can really only go up this weekend at Pocono. I kid, I kid. Obviously with what happened in May (not qualifying for the race), we’re keen to get to another 500-mile race and prove that that was a fluke, and we can run at the front. We had a productive test here last week with Robbie (Wickens). I’m anxious to get on track with the new kit here. Hopefully, we can put on a great show for the fans like we’ve managed to do for the last few years and try to get the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda into victory lane.”

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda): “I’m really excited for Pocono. I think it’s going to be another brand-new experience. Everything I’ve learned on an oval so far this year is almost out the window because it’s not an oval, it’s a triangle! My mindset doesn’t change like it hasn’t for any other oval so far this year, so I’m hopeful we can be running competitively at the end and find ourselves somewhere inside the top 10. I think anytime we can leave an INDYCAR oval race with a top-10 finish is a pretty good day, so that’s going to be the goal for the Lucas Oil crew. We tested there last week, and it definitely helped me a lot. We learned a lot about the car, and hopefully, we can hit the ground running this weekend.”

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “Pocono is a great track and one I think everyone looks forward to on the INDYCAR schedule each year. It’s definitely the ‘Tricky Triangle’ with the level of difficulty. It takes a lot of compromise to get through Turns 1 and 3 the right way. I expect it to be pretty close to the style of racing we had last year. I was a big fan of the racing there and the really good cars stayed at the front and could work through traffic. A few years ago, I think it was too close to pack racing and almost anyone could win, but they really have the package nailed down right now, which should make for an exciting race. Hopefully, the PNC Bank car will be there at the end when it counts.”

ED JONES (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “This is one of the toughest oval-style tracks you’re ever going to encounter. It’s the ‘Tricky Triangle’ so that really sums it up. I think there’s going to be a lot of talk about balance this weekend. As far as how the race strategy plays out, it’s anyone’s guess right now - we’ll have to wait and see if yellows play a big part or if we’re clean and fast. Two off weekends seem like an eternity to be away from the track. I’m looking forward to going back for 500 miles on Sunday in the NTT DATA car.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I’m definitely ready to race this weekend at Pocono. It was awesome to spend time with my family this past weekend, but I’m ready to get back on track. We learned a few things at the Indianapolis tire test (on Aug. 6) and I’m really excited to apply those to the race at Pocono in the No. 12 Verizon Chevy. The last two times we’ve raced there, we’ve had a really strong performance, but with three very different turns, it’s always a challenge to race there. Everyone is hungry for wins at this point in the season. Being in the championship hunt, we need a really strong run there to keep running toward the championship and we’re ready to do just that.”

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “They don’t call it the “Tricky Triangle” for nothing. Pocono is a very unique oval with three corners instead of four and all of them are different from each other. I remember the first time I tested there when I looked down that wide frontstretch going into Turn 1, I thought, ‘That was crazy.’ And it is, but it’s also a crazy fun track to drive. There is always a bit of compromise when setting up the car because the turns are so different, but when you get it right, it’s a blast. We tested there last week focusing on the 500-mile race and I believe we still have some work to do when we start running on Saturday. I’m looking forward to it, especially because the title sponsor is ABC Supply and we’ll have a ton of supporters there. I’ve always run up front at Pocono but for some reason or other didn’t get the result I expected at the end. It is time to change that.”

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Bobby Rahal Automotive Group Honda ): “Our season has been pretty good in many ways. We’ve had a lot of top-10s and a lot of consistency, but clearly it hasn’t been a great season because we haven’t won, and we are disappointed in that, but we have four races left to get that done. I think we can be very strong in Pocono. We led there a bit last year, so I think we should be pretty decent. We came up short last year at Pocono last year, so we would like to do better this year. With the new aero kit, I think we found some things since Indy that will help improve our performance. We had a good race car at Indy, but I definitely think we have learned a lot from an aerodynamic standpoint. I expect to be more competitive. I expect to have a faster car. If you get the balance right, anyone can run well there. Hopefully, we will make that happen. Pocono is always a competitive race. With the long straightaways, there is always tons of passing. The restarts are absolutely nuts. We’ll just have to see how it all plays out. This new car is going to accelerate really well in the draft. I’m excited to get there. It’s a beautiful part of the world; it’s a great racetrack and a great challenge for us. I think we will have a lot of fun. Five-hundred-mile races take a lot of patience. We’ve won one before. You have to understand how it all plays out. We will go there, work hard and make sure we have a good, solid day.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda ): “Pocono is a very unusual oval. It has some very unique characteristics, which is, of course, why it’s called the ‘Tricky Triangle.’ We have qualified the No. 18 SealMaster Honda pretty well on ovals this year. We also tested at Pocono last week. I had a little time in the car, but Pietro (Fittipaldi) did most of the work. Track conditions always change, so we won’t know for sure where we are until we get there. Hopefully, we will unload strong because we only have the one practice session before qualifying. It’s a 500-mile race, so qualifying is not as important as at some other tracks, but it is always better to be at the front of the grid. We are closing in on the end of the season and I know the whole team is working hard to finish the season strong.”

PIETRO FITTIPALDI (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): “I had the opportunity to test at Pocono Raceway last week and it went really well. It was my first full day driving on a superspeedway. It’s definitely a different experience compared to a short oval. You’re doing much higher speeds down the straight and it’s a different aero package as well, so it was a new experience for me. It was also a fun track to drive on, but I now understand why they call it the ‘Tricky Triangle.’ It’s definitely tricky! Every corner is different, the banking is different, the turning angle. It’s very hard to find the perfect balance. I’ve always loved superspeedway racing so I’m looking forward to the race weekend in my No. 19 Paysafe car.”

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “I am always excited to get back to Pocono. It is such a unique track which makes for a fun challenge. The fact that it is a 500-mile race is something that I look forward to as well!”

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet): “I’ve never driven at Pocono before, so it’ll be important to hit the ground running and have a good first practice session. Luckily, I have a very experienced team and teammate to help me prepare for the weekend. The ECR cars were really fast at Indy so hopefully, some of what we learned there can carry over to this 2.5-mile oval as well.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Shell/Chevrolet-Marketplace Team Penske Chevrolet):“We had a bit of a summer break, so I went to France and saw my family, which was great. I trained by riding my bike with my physical trainer on some beautiful roads around my hometown. I feel very energized going into the race weekend at Pocono. I am very proud and excited to be carrying some new colors for this race. Look for the white and gold No. 22 Shell/Chevrolet-Marketplace car this weekend. The team has been hard at work and preparing a strong car for this weekend. They aren’t kidding when they call it the ‘Tricky Triangle,’ since all three corners have a very different radius and banking. The last four races are going to be intense.”

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet): “Even though I’m sure we all enjoyed the break and the time to recharge, two weekends away from the racetrack feels like an eternity! Luckily, we have 500 miles to look forward to this Sunday at Pocono Raceway. It definitely lives up to its nickname. It can be tricky, but I’ve also had a lot of great moments here. It will be a challenge coming into the race weekend without any prior testing, but I have full confidence that the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet will be quick right out of the gate. Pocono is always a special race for both myself and my partner, Novo Nordisk, with their headquarters only a few hours away, and this year is no different as we celebrate the 10th year of our program together. I’m looking forward to making a stop at their headquarters before the weekend starts and hopefully putting on a great show for the many Novo Nordisk employees coming out to support on Sunday.”

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Group 1001 Honda): “After a really strong test at Pocono Raceway last Thursday, I’m really excited for the race weekend to get here. We’ve had great speed on the ovals this season and I feel like we can put together a good weekend in the Group 1001 car. It’s a 500-mile race, so patience is going to be important.”

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “We are coming off of a strong weekend at Mid-Ohio and feel that we’ve got a bit of our momentum back. With that being said, every race is a critical situation for us in terms of needing big results. We welcome the challenge in Pocono this weekend - one of my absolute favorite tracks. I cannot wait to get back at it.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “We’re all really looking forward to getting back to Pocono. The DHL team has consistently had a strong car here - running at the front and winning in 2015 - so as a team we’re quite optimistic. Hopefully, we can get this (No.) 28 Honda in victory lane for the second time this year.”

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): "(About winning pole in 2017:) “I knew we could be competitive, but it was a little hard to know how much I could commit as I just saw my sister car (Ryan Hunter-Reay) lose control and hit a wall heavily just before my run. So, we adjusted the wings accordingly and went out. It was then a little too conservative in terms of balance and I had to run wide at the exit of Turn 1 but I kept on power and got on pole. That was a really great feeling and big satisfaction. With the universal aero kit, we can achieve a similar downforce level in superspeedway trim as we saw at the Indy 500, so we can have similar handling. But to go fast, we need to reduce the drag and that means we will lose a huge amount of downforce. So, it will be quite challenging, but I expect we will be competitive. In the Indy 500, we experienced it is extremely tough to follow or get close to the car in front, so Pocono will be more challenging than previous years. The tow effect seems big and it is a long fast straight at Pocono, so it could be interesting. Sure, it helps in any circumstances to have experience. A 500-mile race is a long one, so your physical and mental condition has to be strong and it’s important to work with your team very closely as there are so many pit stops as well. I am ready to compete competitively at another 500-mile race so I’m really looking forward to the weekend. However, it’s a great feeling that our speed and competitiveness is getting better and stronger in the second half of the season, so we just need to concentrate on our job and keep positive about what we are heading to and we just need to perform well. The results will come.”

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet): “It’s been great for both myself and the whole Carlin team to have a couple of weekends off to refocus after how tough our Mid-Ohio race weekend ended, but now I’m ready to get the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet back on track at Pocono Raceway. I enjoy racing at Pocono and how challenging the track can be with every corner being so different. It’s usually a very busy race and you’re constantly adjusting your tools to get the car to where you need it to be as the race progresses. Obviously, it’s always good to start up front, but at a race like Pocono it’s more about race tactics and being confident so that you can make the passes you need to make when you need to make them. Even though we haven’t tested as a new team at Pocono, I’m feeling good heading into this race weekend.”

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda): “I’m looking forward to the home race at Pocono. It should be a wild one with the restarts, so the fans will be in for a good show. It will be interesting to see how the new aero (kit) is here. This weekend is definitely a big one for us - the U.S. Concrete team has a lot of my hometown support.”