LONG POND, Pa. — Josef Newgarden gets a kick out of anyone who considers the IndyCar championship race limited to two or three drivers. The 2017 series champion counts a field four or five deep all chasing him for first as the season winds down.
Newgarden, first in the standings, took the pole at Pocono Raceway after rain washed out qualifying and set the field on points. Newgarden holds a 16-point lead over Alexander Rossi, who also starts Sunday’s race on the front row. With four races left in the season, Indianapolis 500 champion Simon Pagenaud is 47 points back while reigning series champion Scott Dixon trails the leader by 62 points.
The championship race is tight, the margin for error is thin and the stretch run starts at the 2½-mile tri-oval track that has courted danger in recent seasons.