By using pit-strategy on lap 150, and ousting Pato O’Ward on pit road following the final stop of the race, Josef Newgarden found himself back in victory lane after cycling to the lead on lap 157 and scored his first checkered flag of the year.
And after taking the lead from O’Ward, the Team Penske driver credited his crew for helping him to win the race.
“This was all a pit stop victory right here for me,” Newgarden said. “We got pretty dicey with Will (Power) and Pato (O’Ward) there on track. My guys have been amazing in the pits. They have put me into position every time. 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. He did an amazing job. He’s going to do great things in this sport, so good job to him. It’s a smaller crowd; we weren’t allowed to have as many people here, but thank you to everyone who came out. I hope you enjoyed your Sunday, and hopefully, you enjoyed the race. This was all down to my team. Team Chevy did an amazing job. Great to have Hitachi on the car this weekend. They’ve been good luck for us. Really proud of my team. They won the race. I didn’t win it; they won it.”
Prior to Race No. 2 getting underway, a service vehicle had laid down oil on the track, which prompted a long clean up just moments before the command was given. After the cleanup, IndyCar ran one lap under yellow before initially taking the green flag on Lap 2.
From the beginning, Newgarden ran a consistent race by following the pole-sitter Takuma Sato. By using the same strategy on Saturday and staying out longer than others, Sato led through his first pit stop on lap 59.
Eventual race winner Newgarden pitted several laps earlier on Lap 47. He was able to win the race off pit road amongst his competitors. However, it was rookie Pato O’Ward who cycled into the lead on lap 60, with Power trailing by 0.3579 seconds.
It wouldn’t be until the halfway mark, where Newgarden claimed the top spot when pit stops were happening again. Before Newgarden pitted on Lap 102, he led Indy 500 winner Sato by 3.4 seconds.
Once Newgarden and Sato made their stops, Power was the new leader on Lap 114 as he managed to come out in front of O’Ward and Newgarden.
Unfortunately, 36 laps later, Power’s chances of winning went awry, as he got slowed up by lap traffic when the Australian driver was trying to enter the access road to pit lane, costing Power time in his pit box. The incident allowed Newgarden, who pitted one lap earlier than Power, to re-take the lead on lap 157.
For a long while, Newgarden had the best car out on the track, by having a stable lead over second-place O’Ward. O’Ward could never really close in on the race leader unless he had help with lap traffic that would cause Newgarden to slow up. However, the Aarow McLaren SP driver managed to get the gap down to 0.4058 seconds.
Unfortunately, a late-race caution with four laps to go caused by Takuma Sato would see race No. 2 of the Bommarito 500 end under yellow flag conditions. There were not enough laps left to have IndyCar Series officials to do a restart, ultimately giving Newgarden his 16th career NTT IndyCar Series victory.
Even though Newgarden was able to cut into Scott Dixon’s championship points lead (who now leads by 94 points), the Tennessee native knows it’s still too early to think about a championship with just five races left of the season, but the victory could help boost the teams moral.
“We can’t give up on the championship yet,” Newgarden said about a potential title. “Yesterday was a pretty big blow. We’ve been bitten by bad luck this year. The yellows have gone against us in three or four of the eight races. But, what are you going to do? Sometimes they come to you, some times they don”t. But that is racing. You just have to get on a good cycle. Maybe this will be a kick start as we head toward the end of the season.”
There were two cautions for five laps and nine lead changes among five different leaders.
Newgarden led twice for 48 laps en route to victory.
Race No. 2 of the Bommarito 500 potentially marked Tony Kanaan’s last IndyCar Series race of his career, as he is currently slated not to run any more events. Kanaan will end his IndyCar career with 16 victories, 72 podiums, 10 poles, 3,653 laps led, 2013 Indy 500 Champion, and an average finish of 10.2.
Official Results following Race No. 2 at World Wide Technology Raceway from Gateway.
- Josef Newgarden, led 48 laps
- Pato O’Ward, led 36 laps
- Will Power, led 40 laps
- Rinus VeeKay
- Scott Dixon
- Colton Herta, led 10 laps
- Felix Rosenqvist
- Conor Daly
- Takuma Sato, led 66 laps
- Santino Ferrucci
- Ryan Hunter-Reay
- Alex Palou
- Jack Harvey
- Alexander Rossi
- Marco Andretti, 1 lap down
- Simon Pagenaud, 1 lap down
- Oliver Askew, 1 lap down
- Charlie Kimball, 1 lap down
- Tony Kanaan, 1 lap down
- Graham Rahal, 2 laps down
- Ed Carpenter, 3 laps down
- Zach Veach, 4 laps down
- Marcus Ericsson, 10 laps down
Up Next: The NTT IndyCar Series next race is Friday, October 2 at the Indianapolis Grand Prix, with a start time of 3:50 p.m./Eastern. However, there have been talks that the previously postponed Mid-Ohio event could become another doubleheader in the next few weeks. There has not been an official announcement yet made by IndyCar, whether or not the event will take place.