To the surprise of few observers, Marco Andretti is the pole sitter for the 2013 Pocono IndyCar 400 presented by Sunoco. Marco was just the third driver out on track when he ran a two lap average of 221.273 MPH. Shattering the former overall track record held by Emerson Fittipaldi which was 211.715 MPH set in 1989.
Marco Andretti was the lone driver to run a two lap average over 221 MPH. Marco’s teammates Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay were the only other drivers to have two lap averages over 220 MPH. The other Andretti driver, E.J. Viso was on track to having a two lap average over 220 MPH before he crashed in turn one.
After qualifying Marco answered questions from the media in Pocono’s Media center. When asked how big would winning at his home track of Pocono, “I really want to get this monkey off my back, I feel the wins are about to start clicking off”. He went on to say during the day that he feels the DW12 was built for Pocono, and perhaps no oval is better suited for these cars than the ‘Tricky Triangle’.
E.J. Viso has the unfortunate distinction of being the first driver to crash in turn one this weekend. Viso had the car wiggle midway through turn one, attempted to save the car, and probably over-corrected to end up into the SAFER barrier. Viso saw the doctor at the infield medical center, and was cleared with no injuries.
Will Power, who had electrical issues in the AM practice was the last driver to run a two lap average over 220 MPH. Power is also the first non-Andretti car in row two. He will be next to Indy 500 champion and Fuzzy’s Vodka Triple Crown contender Tony Kanaan. On the outside of row two is another Penske driver in Helio Castroneves.
The third row has the three fastest Hondas with New Zealander, Scott Dixon on the inside of the row, in the middle Takuma Sato, and Simon Pagenaud on the outside. Simona De Silvestro had an impressive P10 qualifying run with a two lap average of 218.590 MPH. Former series champion, Dario Franchitti was able to just muster off a two lap average of 217.047 MPH–making him the slowest Ganassi entry, and continuing his woes at the ‘Tricky Triangle’.
Just behind Dario is fan favorite Pippa Mann, who had an impressive two lap average of 216.980 MPH in the CyclopsGear.com Honda. It is impressive considering she out qualified teammate and fellow Brit Justin Wilson who ran a two lap average 216.872. Pippa admitted later she was very pleased with the time considering the difficulty of the track.
The 8th and final row has three drivers with no times. E.J. Viso will be on the inside, with Ryan Briscoe who made no attempts to qualify due to a race at Lime Rock Park in the middle. The outside of row 8 will be Alex Tagliani, the last car to go out on track, and he would crash during his attempt on the Long pond straight (between turn one and the tunnel turn). Tagliani had the far worst wreck, with the livery looking like a total loss for this weekend.
The complete official rundown can be found here.
Also, the turnout for Pole Day at Pocono was fantastic. At least 10,000 fans were here between the grandstands which looked sparsely filled down low, but tightly packed up high in the shade on this hot Pocono day. Pit road was jam packed with fans, especially by the top five in points, where experience as an offensive lineman is the best way to get through the crowds. The infield is well populated with RV campers, many who have been here since Wednesday night.
The great turnout was not missed by the drivers, Helio made sure to thank the large crowd on IMS Radio during his post qualifying interview for coming out. Helio stated,“First of all, I have to say thanks to the fans for coming out and supporting us. It was great to see so many enthusiastic people here today”. He earned the second loudest cheer of the day for saluting the fans. Fellow Brazilian T.K. agreed, “Our first time out here. I’m impressed with the number of people here today.”
And it was not missed by the living legend himself, Robin Miller. Robin said to me how the people at Pocono have done a spectacular job at promoting the event, and drawing such support. Also Robin Miller feels the ticket prices are great, and will really help put behinds in seats come raceday.
As many of you know, I have lobbied for years to bring the series back here, to my home. And I really am proud to see my gut was correct, IndyCar can fill the stands. Granted it will not be a sell-out, but it has been some time since anyone has sold out the mammoth stands at Pocono. there is now just one thing left, the race.