UPDATED: Pocono qualifying canceled

Image by Phillip Abbott/LAT

UPDATED: Pocono qualifying canceled


UPDATED: Pocono qualifying canceled


UPDATE, 1:30 p.m. ET: Track drying at Pocono Raceway is underway and once the process is completed there will be a two-hour practice session this afternoon. The session will be broadcast live on NBC Gold when the session goes green at 1:50 p.m. ET and available on NBC Sports Network during the network’s 2:30-4 p.m. live window.

UPDATE, 11:17 a.m. ET: Following the arrival of heavy rain, IndyCar has canceled qualifying for Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway. The starting line-up for the race will be set according to entrant points.

A single, two-hour practice session will be run this afternoon at a time to be determined, after the medical helicopter has arrived and the track is dry.

The NTT IndyCar Series contenders are cooling their heels at Pocono Raceway after heavy storm clouds prevented the required medivac helicopter from reaching the Pennsylvania circuit, delaying — and ultimately canceling — the planned one-hour opening practice session for Sunday’s ABC Supply 500. With the delay pushing the onset of practice toward the scheduled qualifying session at 12:30 p.m., the whole day’s schedule — already foreshortened by the two-day format — is in flux.

After waiting a full hour, expected arrival of rain caused the first session to be scrapped and sent the cars back to the garage.

The delay gave the drivers a little extra time to ponder the challenge ahead on Pocono’s unique 2.5-mile trioval.

“The different tire will definitely make it interesting. I think it’ll make it better,” said Will Power, a two-time winner at Pocono. “I think everyone struggled with understeer here last year. But, you never know. You can have the best car here the year before, and you turn up and it’s completely different. The track obviously ages a bit, gets bumps, gets polished where cars have been running, so we’ll see.

“This short session — short weekend — you’ve got two practice sessions, and the first session’s kind of consumed with qualifying stuff, then you’ve got one hour in the afternoon to work on the race. So you’ve got to move quickly and make the right changes.”

Especially if, as is reportedly under consideration, IndyCar opts to scrap qualifying altogether and just run extended practice when possible today. Power didn’t like that idea.

“It would be good for the team, but I’d like to run qualifying though! I think they can get it all in. There’s really nothing else running here, so there’s plenty of time to reschedule sessions. Qualifying doesn’t take too long, so they should push to get qualy in.”

Scott Dixon compared the challenge of Pocono to the iconic home of sports car racing. “Like at Le Mans, where you kind of brake for the first chicane but then you’ve got several minutes before you come back around and try and process if you need to go deeper,” he said. “It is similar in the fact the straights are so long, so if you mess up one of the corners the momentum really hurts you, and you’ve got a long time to think about it. It’s always a fantastic race here — it’ definitely high risk, high limits, especially Turn 1 and Turn 3. But I think that’s what makes it so enjoyable for the drivers, trying to make the comparison between the two just right.”