The high-octane excitement of IndyCar returns to the area this weekend and the third installment of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway on Saturday is primed to be the best one yet.
The NTT IndyCar Series’ 248-lap feature on the 1.25-mile oval has a green flag that drops at 7:45 pm and there are plenty of narratives to follow prior to checkered flags.
POWER SEEKS BACK-TO-BACK BOMMARITO 500 WINS
Will Power (Team Penske) snared his first win of the season with Sunday’s victory at a rain-shortened ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. With the duke, the Aussie claimed his 36th career victory and pushed his consecutive streak of winning races to thirteen seasons. At one point early after his car caught debris, he was at the back of the pack but the veteran was able to snare the lead right before the race was stopped due to inclement weather.
“I had a few issues during the race but we just kept coming back,” said Power after the race. “Full credit to the team. We had a great car and we just kind of hung there and saved fuel and when it was time to go, I went.”
Power now aims to make a return to the winner’s circle at Madison where one year ago was the last time he claimed checkered flags. In that race, the pilot of the #12 Verizon Chevy grabbed the lead with eight laps remaining and claimed a 1.3 second victory over runner-up Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport).
NEWGARTEN LOOKS TO ADD TO POINTS LEAD
Current NTT IndyCar Series points leader Josef Newgarden (Team Penske) claimed 31 points with his fourth place finish at Pocono Sunday and extended his lead over Rossi to 35 points (535-500) with three races remaining. Newgarden has four victories on the season, two of them at ovals (Texas and Iowa).
“Coming out of (Pocono) with a decent finish allows us to now focus on the last three events,” he said after Sunday’s race. “We just need to set our sights on Gateway and execute. I think we will have a good car. I always feel confident with Team Penske, and Team Chevy has been pushing hard, so I’m looking forward to it.”
DIXON STILL HAS CHAMPIONSHIP DREAMS
Defending IndyCar champ Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) is still mathematically in the race to claim the points title with his runner-up finish at Pocono. His 41 points claimed Sunday retained his fourth-place standing (483). Dixon has two victories on the season and with double-the-points potential at the final race of the season, good fortune could come his way. The Kiwi finished third at Madison last season.
“We’ll keep our head down and see what we can come up with for the last three races.” Said Dixon.
ROSSI NEEDS TURNAROUND AFTER WEEKEND SETBACK
Rossi, who headed into last weekend tailing by 16 points in the standings, had an unfortunate result at Pocono. Starting second in the grid, Rossi’s fell victim to a five-car incident in the opening lap and his crumpled car was sent back to the garage. While the tri—oval’s fencing was under repair, and the race was temporarily red-flagged, Rossi’s crew worked feverishly on the car.
Under IndyCar rules, a car cannot be worked on during red flag stoppages. Fully aware of this rule, the Andretti Autopsort crew continued to work and accepted whatever penalty the officials gave because it was more important for theteam to get the car back onto the track to complete the race and claim points rather than record a DNF.
When the car returned to the track later in the race, the team was assessed a ten-lap penalty. Rossi did record 85 laps and finished 18th but only gained 12 points in the standings. Little consoloation but it could have been worse. He now trails Newgarden by 35 points. Rossi does have two street course wins this season and finished runner-up at Gateway last year.
PAGENAUD PUSHES FOR HARD CHARGE
Frenchman Simon Pagenaud (Team Penske) currently sits third in the points standings (495) and trails the leader by 40 points. His third place finish at Pocono continued his steady performance that been prevalent all season. Pagenaud has three wins on the year and is still mathematically in the running for his second IndyCar title.
ROOKIES OPENING EYES
While the IndyCar veterans continue to solidify their legacies with strong runs this season, there is a youth movement that is showing that they can contend for a win at any moment. Four rookies sit within the Top 15 of the standings through 14 races.
Santino Ferrucci (Dale Coyne Racing) finished fourth in Pocono and currently sits in twelfth place and is certainly primed to claim his first-ever victory. Colton Herta (Harding Steinbrenner Racing), the 19-year-old son of former racer Bryan Herta, became the youngest driver to claim checkered flags in the series with his victory at the Course of the Americas earlier this year.
Meanwhile, rookie point leader Felix Rosenqvist (Chip Ganassi Racing) currently sits ninth in points but unfortunately the Swede was involved in the aforementioned Pocono crash – his airborne car shredded the fence – and his status to compete at Gateway is doubtful as of press time.
PLETHORA OF VETERANS DESIRE FIRST WIN
Through 14 races, there have been seven different winners are there are plenty of hard-charging experienced drivers that have yet to visit the winner’s circle in 2019. Due to a fast oval, don’t be surprised to see a potential podium visit, if not a checkered flag, from racers Ryan Hunter Reay (Andretti Autosport), James Hinchcliffe (Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsport) and Sebastien Bourdais (Dale Coyne Racing).
TEAM PENSKE LOOKS TO CONTINUE DOMINANCE
A trio of cars under the tutelage of owner Roger Penske currently occupies three of the top five spots in the NTT IndyCar Series point standings (first, third, fifth). With points leader Newgarden defending the top spot from Andretti Autosport’s Rossi, the team aims to maintain their dominance this weekend. With Newgarden spearheading a power house supplemented by Pagenaud and Power, it will be realistically hard to find a Team Penske shut out, especially considering their dominance on oval this season.
Tickets for this weekend are available at WWTRG’s official website.
For more information on the NTT IndyCar Series, go to their official website.