(MADISON, IL) Josef Newgarden (Team Penske) recaptured past magic found at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway’s 1.25-mile oval by claiming the second event of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 Sunday.
Newgarden, the winner of the 2017 inaugural race, edged Pato O’Ward (Arrow McLaren SP) by claiming the lead on Lap 153 as the duo dueled side-by-side coming out of the pits. As the exit narrowed, Newgarden sliced his No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet in front to snare lead.
Newgarden then staved O’Ward’s late-push and was aided by a caution coming out with four laps remaining when Indy 500 winner, and Sunday’s pole sitter, Takuma Sato crashed in Turn 2.
The race ended under yellow and Newgarden, whose car clocked in at an average speed of 162.594 m.p.h., notched his second win of the NTT IndyCar Series season.
“This was all a pit stop victory right here for me,” Newgarden said afterwards. “My guys have been amazing in the pits. It was really fun racing Pato out of the pit. That was for the win right there, that race when we went side by side out of the pit exit. (My crew) won the race. I didn’t win it; they won it.”
The victory resulted in his sixteenth career win and helped him slice a few points off of Scott Dixon’s lead in the points standings. Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing), the defending series champ and yesterday’s winner, finished fifth Sunday and holds a 416-320 lead over Newgarden with three scheduled races left on the 12-race adjusted docket.
O’Ward, who is competing his first full IndyCar season this year after a part-time ride during his rookie campaign, had a solid weekend as today’s runner-up spot alongside Saturday’s third place finish helped secure his third-place position in points (297).
“Man, we had a great weekend,” said O’Ward. “Our objective was to come in and try and score two podiums, and we did that. It would have been great to score a win. We’re so close.”
Sunday’s race started under yellow due to track maintenance for two laps until green flag action almost went end-to-end. Sato’s aforementioned crash late was the only other caution on the day.
This resulted in racing that only had lead changes occur during pit stops. With Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) dominating the first quarter of the 200-lap feature, a slight miscue in the pits during Lap 60 handed the lead to O’Ward.
A similar sluggish exit by Sato when he held the lead at Lap 108 again moved him down the pecking order. He finished ninth on the afternoon and sits in fourth place in the standings.
Rookie Rinus VeeKay (Ed Carpenter Racing), who started 18th in the field of 23, set a new personal benchmark with a fourth place result.
The series takes September off from active racing and returns with the IndyCar Harvest GP two-race event on Friday & Saturday, October 2 & 3.
Follow the series at indycar.com.