The championship points implications of the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway came into sharper focus Saturday morning in Long Pond, Pennsylvania when qualifying was canceled by INDYCAR due to poor weather conditions and the absence of a safety helicopter, setting the starting line-up for Sunday’s race by entrant points.
The results of the most recent round at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course — won by five-time series champion Scott Dixon — tightened the championship battle with the top four drivers separated by 62 points heading into the year’s final four races. With the same four drivers starting from the first and second rows at Pocono, the fight for victory should be fierce as all four look to make up ground.
For points leader Josef Newgarden, earning maximum points in the 500-mile race will provide breathing room between he and season-long challenger Alexander Rossi with the two separated by just 16 markers. Meanwhile, Rossi will look to close or potentially eliminate the gap if he has a positive outcome and Newgarden falters, as he did on the final lap at Mid-Ohio.
Pagenaud and Dixon’s odds of securing their respective sixth and second championships are slimmer, but not outside the realm of possibility. Notably, Dixon is coming off of three straight podium finishes, indicating he may be on the cusp of a season-ending run at the championship — hardly an unfamiliar occurrence for the Chip Ganassi Racing driver.
With the starting line-up established and the points-leading No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet set to lead the field to green Sunday at 2:45 p.m. EDT, INDYCAR plans to give teams 120 minutes of practice on Saturday at approximately 1:50 p.m. Live coverage will be available via INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold and also NBCSN beginning at 2:30 p.m.