Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden led the most laps (138) and drove to an easy win over Pato O’Ward in the Bommarito 500 IndyCar race at World Wide Technology Raceway.
Newgarden’s crew got him out of the pits first three times and he used the clean air out front to cruise to victory, his third win at Gateway.
The only person capable of beating Newgarden was Colton Herta. Herta appeared to have the measure of the field in his #26 Gainbridge Honda until his driveshaft broke on lap 185.
Polesitter Will Power came home third in his #12 Verizon Chevy. His Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin came home 4th to give Team Penske 3 of the top 4 finishers.
Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top-5 for AJ Foyt Racing.
Several drivers got up into the marbles – On lap 200 Alexander Rossi, as he so often does, ran out of talent and plastered his #27 NAPA Andretti Honda into the outside wall, bringing out a caution.
Ed Carpenter was another driver running out of talent – he lost control of #20 USAF Chevy and hit the wall on lap 54
Rinus Veekay managed to take out both Ganassi Hondas on lap 64, spearing Alex Palou and Scott Dixon from behind and costing Palou the points lead.
Two-time series champion Newgarden leaped from fourth to third – 22 points behind O’Ward – with his third career victory on this 1.25-mile oval and his 20th overall career win. He averaged 135.245 mph, leading 138 of 260 laps in the final oval race of the season.
“I couldn’t ask for much more,” Newgarden said. “Everyone did a great job. I’m thrilled. We’ve got to keep going. We know this is going to be a climb, but this goes a long way tonight.
“Any win is important for the year. Wish we had a couple more to this point and were in a different position, but we’ve always got to fight with where we’re at and what we’ve got in our hands.”
There are three races remaining in the season, all on road and street courses on consecutive weekends in September on the West Coast. The next event is the Grand Prix of Portland on Sunday, Sept. 12 at Portland (Oregon) International Raceway.
O’Ward used smart aggression all night to avoid incidents that triggered six caution periods, including five in the first 65 laps. He scored his eighth top-five finish in 13 races this year.
“It was a very solid points day for us,” O’Ward said. “I think we maximized what we could have gotten out of our car and our race.”
NTT P1 Award winner Will Power finished third in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Team Penske Chevrolet, and Scott McLaughlin gave Team Penske three of the top four finishing positions by placing fourth in the No. 3 DEX Imaging Team Penske Chevrolet.
Sebastien Bourdais finished fifth, tying a season best, in the No. 14 ROKiT/AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet. Formula One veteran Romain Grosjean finished 14th in his oval racing debut in the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda, completing 259 of 260 laps.
Newgarden took the lead for good under caution on Lap 203 when Bourdais, on a different fuel strategy from other lead cars, entered the pits for his final stop. Newgarden maintained a gap anywhere from seven-tenths to one second over O’Ward after the restart on Lap 210.
O’Ward closed to within a half-second in the closing five laps but ran out of time to challenge Newgarden for victory.
The complexion of the championship race changed dramatically on Lap 65 during a restart, when six-time and reigning series champion Dixon, Palou and Rinus VeeKay were involved in a crash in Turn 1.
VeeKay’s No. 21 Sonax/Autogeek Chevrolet hit the rear of Dixon’s No. 9 PNC Bank Grow Up Great Honda at the apex of Turn 1 in a thicket of traffic during the restart, sending both cars into a spin into the SAFER Barrier. VeeKay’s car collected Palou’s No. 10 The American Legion Honda en route to the wall, eliminating Palou in 20th and VeeKay in 21st.
Palou had climbed into 10th place after starting 21st due to a nine-spot grid position penalty because of an unapproved engine change after the Big Machine Spiked Coolers Grand Prix last Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“I thought I was on the outside, and suddenly I got hit,” Palou said. “I had plenty of room with Scott, and Scott had plenty of room with the guy in front, and we just got hit. There was no space there. I don’t know where he (VeeKay) wanted to go.
“It was hard to get up to the top 10. We just wanted to have a clean race, we just wanted to get some points, and I thought we had a good race car. Nothing we could do today. It’s just a shame it played out like that.”
Said VeeKay: “I’m very sorry for Alex and Scott. I had a really good restart on the inside of Alex and behind Scott. I get into Turn 1, and I was really focusing on Scott, just to stay behind him, and it just kind of stacked up. I tried to slow down, but we’re in oval spec, and I think just before I hit Scott, I’m even locking up the fronts. Unfortunately, everybody knows how it happened. All night, people have been checking up, which for everyone is pretty annoying.”
Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing crew repaired his car, and he returned to the race to try to gain points. Dixon dropped out late in the race in 19th place, 160 laps down. He dropped to fourth in the standings, 43 points behind O’Ward.
It was the first time Dixon failed to finish a race since this event in August 2019, ending a streak of 28 consecutive races running at the finish.
Marcus Ericsson finished ninth in the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda to stay fifth in the standings and keep his championship hopes flickering, 60 points behind leader O’Ward.
Andretti Autosport’s tough season continued with more heartbreaking misfortune. Colton Herta entered the pits in the lead on Lap 186, but the driveshaft broke in his No. 26 Gainbridge Honda as he exited the pits, ending his night. He was credited with 18th place after leading 101 laps, second only to Newgarden.
2016 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Alexander Rossi was running in the top five for part of the race and appeared to be a threat to Newgarden when he hit the SAFER Barrier in Turn 2 on his out lap after his final pit stop on Lap 201. Rossi placed 17th in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda.
Grosjean Impresses in Oval Debut
Dale Coyne Racing with RWR driver Romain Grosjean impressed in his oval debut on Saturday night at World Wide Technology Raceway. The rookie gained a ton of experience and put on quite the show as he made it all to way to eighth before taking the checkered flag in 14th, a result that was no way indicative of his on-track performance.
“I finished my first oval race. It was a very, very good experience. We tried a strategy that didn’t quite go our way, so the end result isn’t as good as our race, but we had a fast car, we learned a lot. I made a couple of mistakes on cold tires and got into the marbles, but I was able to save it and I managed to make some good passes. I’m happy with this first oval race, I’m a little dizzy right now but tomorrow should be better,” said Grosjean.
A top-5 for AJ Foyt Racing
Lady Luck smiled on AJ Foyt Racing…finally. The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway started off with fireworks Saturday night. The fireworks continued after the green flag dropped as close racing action resulted in six caution periods for a total of 49 laps.
Sebastien Bourdais led laps in the No. 14 ROKiT Chevrolet before securing his second top-five finish of the season while Dalton Kellett ran in the top 10 with his No. 4 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet before posting his career best finish of 12th in the NTT INDYCAR Series.
“It feels great for the whole team,” said Team President Larry Foyt. “We really needed this. Just been down on our luck for the past couple months but everybody just kept their heads down. Even though we didn’t qualify great here, the strategy finally worked in our favor and we were able to get a top five with Seb and Dalton had a great race and just missed the top 10 and finished 12th. For the team it was just a really solid night and it gives us some nice momentum going into the west coast swing.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 2 SONSIO TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – RACE WINNER
ON A WILD NIGHT THAT SAW SO MANY CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS HAVE SOME MISFORTUNE, THIS WAS THE ULTIMATE ELIXIR, RIGHT, TO GET YOU RIGHT BACK IN THE TITLE HUNT?
“Yeah, any win is big. It’s been disappointing on a couple of these last events because I felt like we’ve had winning cars. Obviously, Nashville wasn’t supporting for us. It was tough to have a not-so-good-race in your hometown. And the GP wasn’t great. We came here with just an amazing car. Scott McLaughlin tested for us. He made a whole new package for us. I’m real thankful for my team and teammates and just happy to be falling back into this chase with Team Chevy and having Sonsio on the car tonight was good.
“Team Penske is good here. I’m so proud of this team! Team Chevy did awesome as you can tell! Great Mileage. Great Performance. This is so good.”
LET’S GO BACK TO THE BEGINNING WHERE THERE WAS SOME CONTACT WITH SIMON PAGENAUD. AT THAT POINT, HOW CONCERNED WERE YOU ABOUT THE RACE CAR?
“I was real concerned that we were going to have a tire going down. I knew his front wing had touched my left rear. I wasn’t sure how bad it was. I picked up a vibration and I think it ended up just being a bent rim. So, we got really lucky it didn’t get worse, but I knew our car was good. I was like if we can make it through this stint, and not compromise our positioning, then we’re going to be just fine.”
GOING TO THE FINAL STINT, HOW CONFIDENT WERE YOU THAT YOU HAD THE CAR TO BEAT AND THAT YOU WOULD BE ABLE TO KEEP PATO O’WARD AND THE REST OF THE FIELD AT BAY?
“I felt good about it. I was real confident we had the car if nothing silly happened. So, at that point, I was feeling good about things.”
PATO O’WARD, NO. 5 ARROW MCLAREN SP CHEVROLET – FINISHED 2ND
LATE IN THE RACE WITH NEWGARDEN ON THE RESTART, DID YOU KNOW HEY, I’M THE POINTS LEADER? DID IT GO INTO YOUR MINDSET AT ALL?
“I knew we were having a good points day. And I just had to keep my nose clean the whole race. Obviously, it would have been great to win. I think I had the car to win. Man, these Penske guys were really, really tough. It was really tough to get by them. I think we maximized today. I think we truly did. So, I’m proud of the Arrow McLaren SP No. 5 crew.”
WE HEAD TO THE WEST COAST FOR THE LAST THREE RACES. YOU ARE THE POINTS LEADER IN THE NTT INDYCAR SERIES
‘Yeah, there are still three races to go. But this is definitely the right way we want to go. So, we need to continue pushing.”
WILL POWER, NO. 12 VERIZON 5G TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET – FINISHED 3RD
SOMETIMES YOU CAN FINISH 3RD AND SAY I HAD A LITTLE BIT LEFT IN ME AND OTHER TIMES YOU CAN SAY I GOT THE MOST OUT OF IT. WHICH WAY DID THIS ONE GO?
“I was really lucky to finish third. I really didn’t have the car, honestly. I was definitely not as quick as the guys in front.”
HOW DRAINING IS A TRACK LIKE THIS? IT IS HOT OUT HERE
“It wasn’t bad until the end there and we were pushing really hard. Not terrible. Just a little tired like mentally tired in a long race like that. I got a bit tired at the end there, like mentally tired. I was physically fine.”
SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN, NO. 3 DEX IMAGINING TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET, FIINISHED 4TH: “I feel like I jumped in a sand pit. I have sand up and down my back and its disgusting. BUT, it was an awesome day for us with the Dex Imaging Chevy. I had a decent car. I fell back at the start so I probably didn’t pick the right hole, I took it a little safe I suppose, but then on the third or fourth or 10th restart, whatever we had, they were crazy starts, but I really got into it, and got comfortable. We got ourselves in a nice position there. We were able to get a good finish.
“We tested here a while back, and my feedback translated to good performance gain for all the guys and I am really proud of that. I’m learning the car and getting more comfortable in it and learning to trust the car and myself. Really proud of the Dex Imaging Chevrolet. We had great fuel mileage and I can’t wait for what’s ahead.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, NO. 14 ROKIT AJ FOYT RACING CHEVROLET – FINISHED 5TH
YOU LOOK LIKE YOU ARE COMPLETELY WORN OUT BY THAT RUN. THAT WAS A HECK OF A NIGHT. TAKE US THROUGH YOUR TOP 5 FINISH
“Honestly, I’m still not quite sure how we didn’t cycle in the lead when the yellow came out and we basically stopped one less time than everybody else, I think. And we stopped after the yellow. But I don’t know. I’ll have to look at it. But I didn’t quite understand at the time and I really thought shit, we’re actually going to be in the lead! But anyway. I didn’t have the fastest car but the car was still pretty solid. I was really trying to bring it to the end because I had that feeling like after the start and looking at all the chaos and the aggressivity and things, one yellow after another, finishing was actually going to be some valuable points. So, yeah I guess we were well inspired this time because there was definitely a lot of attrition and a top-5 finish with the ROKiT No. 14 Chevrolet is definitely a good result for us.”
ON THE STRATEGY AND PIT STOPS
“It was a total team effort for sure. Good strategy, good pit stops, and didn’t make any mistakes on track or in the pits. Actually, if that yellow doesn’t come out, I’m quite sure how it works out. But we’re going to do one less than some of the guys, so for sure. Anyways, we’ll take a top-5; and not really being able to pass anyone because there really wasn’t any passing, is a heck of a result.”
|1||2||Josef Newgarden||260||138||3||Chevy||413||Team Penske|
|2||5||Pato O’Ward||260||1||5||Chevy||435||Arrow McLaren SP|
|3||12||Will Power||260||1||1||Chevy||315||Team Penske|
|4||3||Scott McLaughlin||260||0||11||Chevy||245||Team Penske|
|5||14||Sebastien Bourdais||260||18||18||Chevy||206||AJ Foyt Enterprises|
|6||30||Takuma Sato||260||0||16||Honda||279||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing|
|7||28||Ryan Hunter-Reay||260||0||13||Honda||215||Andretti Autosport|
|8||22||Simon Pagenaud||260||1||4||Chevy||320||Team Penske|
|9||8||Marcus Ericsson||260||0||6||Honda||375||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|10||60||Jack Harvey||260||0||15||Honda||233||Meyer Shank Racing|
|12||4||Dalton Kellett||260||0||24||Chevy||125||AJ Foyt Enterprises|
|13||48||Tony Kanaan||260||0||17||Honda||96||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|14||51||Romain Grosjean||259||0||14||Honda||222||Dale Coyne Racing w/RWR|
|15||29||James Hinchcliffe||243||0||19||Honda||189||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport|
|16||7||Felix Rosenqvist||211||0||10||Chevy||149||Arrow McLaren SP|
|17||27||Alexander Rossi||200||0||7||Honda||259||Andretti Autosport|
|18||26||Colton Herta||185||101||2||Honda||324||Andretti Autosport|
|19||9||Scott Dixon||100||0||8||Honda||392||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|20||10||Alex Palou||64||0||21||Honda||425||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|21||21||Rinus VeeKay||64||0||23||Chevy||278||Ed Carpenter Racing|
|22||20||Ed Carpenter||54||0||22||Chevy||107||Ed Carpenter Racing|
|23||15||Graham Rahal||4||0||9||Honda||319||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing|
|24||18||Ed Jones||2||0||12||Honda||175||Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan|
Winner’s average speed: 135.245 mph
Time of Race: 2:24:10.9404
Margin of victory: 0.5397 of a second
Cautions: 6 for 49
Lead changes: 11 among 6 drivers
Power, Will 1
Herta, Colton 2 – 57
Bourdais, Sebastien 58 – 67
Newgarden, Josef 68 – 132
Pagenaud, Simon 133
Bourdais, Sebastien 134 – 137
Newgarden, Josef 138
Herta, Colton 139 – 183
Newgarden, Josef 184 – 197
O’Ward, Pato 198
Bourdais, Sebastien 199 – 202
Newgarden, Josef 203 – 260
NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings: O’Ward 435, Palou 425, Newgarden 413, Dixon 392, Ericsson 375, Herta 324, Pagenaud 320, Rahal 319, Power 315, Sato 279.