(MADISON, IL) Josef Newgarden claimed his third IndyCar career victory at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway Saturday night by claiming the checkered flags of the fifth annual Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline.
The Team Penske pilot, who also won at the 1.25-mile oval in 2017 and last season, paced the No. 2 Sonsio Chevrolet to a .5397 second win over Pato O’ Ward (Arrow McLaren SP) for his second win within the NTT IndyCar Series this season and his 20th open-wheeled triumph overall.
The end result of 260-lap feature saw plenty of new twists in the standings based upon the misfortunes of Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Alex Palou and Scott Dixon, who sat respectively first and third in points heading into the Madison race.
Fresh off a restart in Lap 65, both were involved in a Turn 1 accident with Rinus Veekay (Ed Carpenter Racing). The kerfuffle resulted in Palou’s bow out and a 20th place finish and while Dixon was able to limp back to the pits for repairs, the defending series champ did not fare better, finishing 19th.
The pair of setbacks, and O’Ward’s runner-up claim, helped O’Ward leapfrog to the top position of the points standings with three races left, a 10-point edge over Palou.
Meanwhile Newgarden’s second win of the season pushed his point placement to third overall in the standings (-22) while Dixon dropped to fourth (-43).
Pole sitter Will Power (Team Penske) stayed consistent throughout the evening and claimed third while rookie teammate Scott McLaughlin netted his top second Top 5 of the year by finishing fourth.
Newgarden, the two-time IndyCar champ who started third Saturday, now feels momentum on his side as the series advances to September 12th’s Grand Prix of Portland.
“A win helps a lot,” Newgarden said afterwards. “The team did a great job. The circumstances played favorably into helping us get back into this race, which is what we’ve been working towards. I feel really confident about where we’re going.”
Claiming the lead in Lap 203 that resulted in victory, Newgarden led 138 of 260 laps in the final IndyCar oval race of 2021.
Meanwhile O’ Ward, who started fifth on the night and finished second, stayed clean throughout and snared his eighth Top 5 finish of the season and now holds the 10-point edge over Palou in the standings.
“To be honest, man, it’s so tight, “ he said afterwards. “There’s still three races to go, 150 points on the table. This means we’re going on the right path.”
The race was sluggish from the onset as five separate cautions in the first 75 laps resulted in 40 laps raced under yellow. Once driving became consistent, the remaining field managed to churn a race average of 135.245 MPH for the evening.
Thirteen drivers of the 24-car field managed to finish on the lead lap.
Following the aforementioned Portland race in three weeks’ time, the series concludes the following two weekends with stops at Monterrey on September 19 and the season finale on September 26.
Considering the amount of points on the table, and the parity that has been experienced throughout the season, mathematically there are realistically four drivers – O’Ward, Palou, Newgarden and Dixon – who can claim the NTT IndyCar Series championship by season’s end.
For more information on the NTT IndyCar Series, go to their official website.
OTHER NEWS FROM THE WEEKEND
BOMMARITO AUTOMOTIVE GROUP HINTS FIVE-YEAR INDYCAR EXTENSION AT GATEWAY
Prior to Saturday night’s race, Bommarito Automotive Group President John Bommarito publically revealed that the company was in the initial stages of extending their partnership with World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway for IndyCar races over the next five seasons.
Although not written in stone contractually, the more-than-likely probability of continuing primary sponsorship breathes a sigh of relief that IndyCar will be an ongoing fixture at the Madison oval through 2026.
The Bommarito Automotive Group has been the exclusive sponsor of IndyCar races at WWTRG since the open-wheeled sereis returned to the area in 2017.
CREED WINS FRIDAY’S NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCKS EVENT
Sheldon Creed (GMS Racing), won Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series marquee event at Gateway, the Toyota 200 presented by CK Power, in a 163-lap feature that, for one hour, lost all power.
The series’ opening stage of a ten-driver, playoff round that covers three races, saw the 23-year-old Creed, the defending series champion, win both the playoff round and the race overall, claiming 142 of the race’s laps en route to victory.
With 61 laps remaining in the race, a fire near a damaged electrical transformer caused by a multi-truck accident, resulted in a red flag stoppage that lasted roughly one hour. Under backup power and with temporary lighting towers in place, the race resumed and Creed topped fellow playoff driver Matt Crafton by .292 seconds to secure victory.
“I love late-race restarts,” said Creed of the situation. “I didn’t want it, but when it came out, I was just think, ‘Okay, just focus and execute.’”
With his victory at Gateway, Creed automatically qualifies for inclusion to Round 2 for the series’ championship.
The series’ overall points leader heading into the playoff round, John H. Nemechek (Kyle Busch Motorsports), had a below-par night, finishing 22nd overall.
The series playoff round continues to the “In It To Win It 200” race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on September 5.
After three opening round playoff stages, the top eight drivers advance to Round 2 in a quest to claim the title.
For more info on the series, go to their official website.
MALUKAS SWEEPS WEEKEND INDY LIGHTS RACES
Indy Lights driver David Malukas (HBD Motorsports) had a hearty weekend in Madison by claiming checkered flags for both races under the Cooper Tires Indy Lights Oval Challenge.
In the process, the 19-year-old jettisoned his way to the top of the series points standings over Kyle Kirkwood, 371-368.
“What amazing racing!” said Malukas after Saturday’s triumph, his sixth of the season. “This is the happiest I’ve ever been!”
The developmental series for IndyCar, where the overall winner automatically receives three IndyCar races next season, including the 2022 Indianapolis 500 next May, continues at Portland International Raceway in early September.
EVES CLAIMS INDY PRO 2000 WIN
In the Cooper Tires Indy Pro 200 Oval Challenge at Gateway mid-Saturday afternoon, driver Brandon Eves (Exclusive Autopsort), claimed his third win of the season by 0.7313 seconds over current points leader Christian Rasmussen in the 55-lap affair.
Eves sliced his series points deficit against Rasmussen (345-313) as the developmental league progresses to New Jersey Motorsports Park next weekend for a triple-header.