LONG POND, Pa. – After a two week break for competitive action, the Dale Coyne Racing team loaded up the trucks and headed to Pocono Raceway for the ABC Supply 500. The final 500 mile race of the season provided an extra challenge to drivers and engineers alike due to its unique design. Its three turn layout with each turn having a different amount of banking makes race setup difficult.
As has been commonplace on oval tracks this season, the event was reduced to a two day schedule with only one practice session before qualifying. For this reason, most laps were dedicated to race setup since starting at the front of the field on a superspeedway is no guarantee of race day success.
Tristan Vautier spent his 26th birthday in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America car on Saturday and qualified 13th after a strong 14th place showing in the first practice session.
Vautier’s race started strong as he passed two cars in the first seven laps and appeared to be ready to take the battle to the top 10. However, an untimely caution on lap 29 right after his first pit stop dropped him back 20th position and gave him the opportunity to go off cycle to the rest of the field. Having more fuel left as the second stops came, this strategy vaulted Vautier up to third position. Once he did pit several laps later, he was put back to the end of the lead lap.
Vautier saw his race end just before the halfway point when a two car battle became three and he ran out of track on the inside of turn three. With the others likely not knowing he was inside of them, Vautier was forced into the grass and the rear of the car washed out. He smacked the wall and was forced to retire. He finished in 21st position.
“I had a big run, obviously it’s three wide so it’s a bit tough. I felt like I had a run, I was almost all the way alongside if not fully alongside,” recalled Vautier. “I obviously feel bad, (Graham Rahal) is a championship contender for Honda, so it’s always tough and you always have to be the bad guy in this kind of story.”
Pippa Mann made her second career IndyCar start at Pocono for Dale Coyne Racing and put the No. 18 car 17th place on the starting grid. Not having spent much time on a qualifying setup, Mann’s season best qualifying effort was even more impressive.
While her teammate had a strong start to his race, Mann had a mechanical issue that brought her to pit road after only 9 laps. The car experienced an electrical issue and she spent 17 laps on pit road while her crew remedied the situation. Mann continued to run quick laps to earn as many points as possible for the entry and, with the race’s high attrition rate, finished in 13th position.
The final race of the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series takes place at the 2.385-mile natural-terrain road course of Sonoma Raceway. Coyne drivers have had some success at this track with Justin Wilson finishing second in 2013. The 2015 series champion will be crowned live on NBCSN at 4:00 PM ET. The race broadcast can also be heard on Sirius 212/XM 209.