With 31 laps to go, Newgarden got a great run down the long front straight and dove to the inside of Pagenaud’s Chevrolet entering turn 1. Pagenaud tried to regain his line but Newgarden held the position, bumped into Pagenaud, sending his car adrift up the track into the marbles. Pagenaud slowed down and wrestled the wheel to keep control in what was the decisive moment of the race.
Pagenaud was furious with Newgarden after the race — and these guys are teammates at Team Penske.
Mears walked Autoweek through the reasons why that move was inevitable in an exclusive interview after the race.
“The way the cars and the passing were, it almost creates that here," Mears told Autoweek. “You have to get creative to pass, and that is tough. With a new surface, there is always a lot bigger difference in the grip in the groove and the non-groove with the lateral loads we are pulling going as fast as we are.
“It was just a gutsy move. When it’s that tough to pass, you do or you don’t — you commit and you go. It’s tough because on the one hand it’s good and the other hand it is not. It moved Scott Dixon up a notch, and that was not a good thing.
“You could look at it all different ways. It just depends what hat you have on." AutoWeek