The ABC Supply 500 was one of the most entertaining races of the season with 42 lead changes at speeds in excess of 216mph. The race average speed topped 183mph which factored in 17 laps of caution!
Winner Will Power took his younger teammate Josef Newgarden to school as the youngster tried every which way to pass him in the closing laps but to no avail. The top three drivers, including third place Alexander Rossi, were nose to tail as they took the checkered after 200 laps of hard racing from start to finish. Rounding out the top five were Simon Pagenaud and Tony Kanaan.
Carlos Munoz, who started 18th, began passing cars at the drop of the green and had moved up to 13th before the first round of pit stops during the first caution period for a track inspection on lap 23. Unfortunately Ed Jones hit him in the rear under caution and Munoz had to return to the pits to get the rear wing replaced which the team did without losing a lap. Munoz restarted 20th.
Over the next couple of stints, he worked his way into the top 10, dicing with the likes of Ryan Hunter-Reay, Helio Castroneves and James Hinchcliffe. A timely yellow (for once) right after he pitted worked to his advantage and he was in seventh when the race restarted on lap 122. There was another yellow four laps later for the contact between Hinchcliffe and J.R. Hildebrand in Turn 1. On that restart, Munoz got shuffled back to 12th but it took him just 10 laps to climb back to seventh.However in the final two stints, he slipped back to 10th which is where he finished.
“It was a fun race,” Munoz said afterwards. “It’s been a long time since I had a fun race, I think the last one was at Texas. The car was really good. We’ve made a good program at the speedways so I’m really happy. I think we just missed a little bit of speed but I think setup wise, the car was great. The guys did a great job on the pit stops. The 12 and the 2 car did a different strategy and I think that cost us P-8 but on track the car was quite strong fighting with the Penskes and Andrettis [cars]. In the last stint we were missing just a little bit of speed but I’m happy to bring the car home 10th. We were fighting the whole race and it was fun to make some good passes. So we’ll continue to try to do that.” [Broken wing] “I got hit in the rear under the first yellow and it broke my rear bumper so it had to be replaced. So I went all the way to the back and had to come back through. Very few people passed me on track today so I was happy about that.”
Meanwhile his teammate Conor Daly who started 17th had dropped back at the start. Although he could get through Turns 1 and 2, he struggled with Turn 3. There was an even bigger struggle to communicate as there was a problem with his microphone. Daly could only communicate clearly under caution, otherwise his team had a tough time figuring out the adjustments needed on the pit stops. They worked out a system to communicate on the fly but it was difficult for driver and crew.
At one point Daly had climbed to ninth through the timing of the same yellow that benefitted Munoz on lap 116. However, he was penalized when he took full service (fuel and tires) in the pits which were closed after he entered. He had to do a drive through which dropped him from ninth to 19th. He climbed back to finish 14th at the checkered.
“That was the first 500 mile race I finished on the lead lap so that’s good,” Daly said. “I think we had a really good shot at it when we got the track position [p9] but then we got the drive through which is a shame because I didn’t see the yellow light on my dash. But it’s one of those things. It’s pretty much the worst luck you could have in that position but we tried to deal with it. I thought our car was fairly competitive but I just really struggled in Turn 3–it was difficult for me all day long. Once we lost track position, it was difficult to stay up but I think we made a good step forward today.”
Team President Larry Foyt was pleased overall with his team’s performance.
“It was an ok day for the two ABC Supply Chevrolets,” Foyt said. “There were times we got up front and then we got shuffled a little bit. It looked like Carlos had a pretty good race going, I thought he drove a really good race and Conor did a good job and learned a lot. I know he doesn’t have a lot of time on these big tracks.
“It was awesome to see all of the ABC Supply associates here—all 1400 of them!” Foyt continued. “What a great race they saw, at least from where I was standing—and I was focused on our cars—but it looked like a pretty entertaining race with the guys fighting for the win. Looked like great day overall for the fans who came out today. I’m glad our cars finished the race and we got a top 10.”
TIL NEX TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!