Josef Newgarden was the most recent champion coming into Pocono for the 2017 ABC Supply 500, picking up the back-to-back win at Mid-Ohio a few weeks prior. He however would finish the race behind his fellow Penske teammate Will Power, who would himself claim back-to-back victory after winning at Pocono in 2016. Ryan Hunter-Reay would also find himself with back-to-back issues at the track, this year a horrible crash the day before, but ended up still finishing the race (much like he did in 2016). At the end of the race, Josef Newgarden still stood as the points leader followed by Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, and Will Power.
This year, following the amazing seven-wide (though it looked like twenty) restart, we knew we had to get there. The standings are lacking a Team Penske train, with Scott Dixon in front, Alexander Rossi in second, and Josef Newgarden in third. The individual who wins the race can come away with, at most, fifty-four points (fifty points to win the race, one point for pole, one point for leading a lap, and two points for leading the most laps). The only way for Dixon to be overtaken is for him to have a bad day, a bad day like he leads no laps and Rossi gets the pole, wins the race, and leads the most laps. There will be mixing up of the top five and even the top ten finishing the race. With three races afterward, including double-points in Sonoma – there are a lot of things happening.
So for the 2017 race – what am I most interested in:
The new aerokit.
This has been a season full of close racing and passing that is leaving all the records from prior races in the dust. This track, with the varying corners, long wide straightaway, and trickery with wind has led to amazing moments. I think the new aerokit, and the recent changes that the series has added, this will be a great race full of passes. How wide will those cars go on that front straight away? Starts and restarts are going to be absolutely amazing this year.
Will the rookies handle this track?
After the test this year, Robert Wickens indicated he knew why the track was called the “Tricky Triangle”. As I mentioned above, with the three different corners, long and wide open straightaway, this is a track that determines mastery throughout the whole 2.5 miles. That’s another thing, this isn’t a shorter race, it’s another 500 miles, it’s not just mastery it’s also a race of stamina.
Can RHR get through a race at this track without bad luck?
Lord, Ryan Hunter-Reay has had some incredible moments prior to the past two races at this track. Bad crashes, but he always seems to get things together and do very well. I really want him not to have bad problems prior to the race.