Newgarden wins Gateway; O’Ward takes championship lead

IndyCar

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Josef Newgarden withstood a collision with his own Penske team mate Simon Pagenaud, and survived a race of attrition to win Saturday night’s 500 kilometre race at the Gateway Motorsports Park oval near St. Louis, Missouri. Newgarden finished ahead of new IndyCar Series points leader, Patricio O’Ward, who now leads the championship by ten points – after previous leader Álex Palou was caught up in a multi-car accident that also took out his Ganassi team mate and title contender Scott Dixon.

The crash that took Palou and Dixon out of the race occurred on lap 65, when Rinus VeeKay made contact with Dixon in turn one, and then collected Palou as they spun and hit the wall. Dixon would return to the course to run a few more laps before retiring. He was classified 19th, with Palou 20th, and VeeKay 21st. In the ensuing caution period, Josef Newgarden, who had a great first pit stop on lap 58, took the lead for the first time.

Newgarden would then hold the advantage until lap 139, when he was overtaken by Colton Herta. Herta had taken the lead just two laps into the race when he passed pole sitter Will Power, and was eager to claim his first career IndyCar victory on an oval. But just as he took his third and final routine pit stop of the day, his #26 Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda suffered a driveshaft failure exiting his pit box, leading to another unfortunate late race retirement for Herta in a race where he was contending for victory.

Only O’Ward posed a threat to Newgarden’s lead in the final laps of the race. But despite a late rally from the #5 McLaren SP Dallara/Chevrolet of O’Ward, the #2 Penske of Newgarden had more than enough pace to hold on for the win, by just over half a second.

Newgarden’s victory was another massive boost for his own aspirations of winning his third IndyCar Series title, as he now sits third in the table, 22 points behind runner-up finisher O’Ward, and 12 points behind Palou, who dropped to second in the standings. This is Newgarden’s second victory in the last four races, his third career win at the asymmetrical 2.012 kilometre oval, and his 20th career win.

Power would end the day in third place, ahead of his rookie team mate Scott McLaughlin in fourth, who scored his best finish since the Texas Motor Speedway doubleheader in May. Simon Pagenaud finished eighth, but he may feel aggrieved towards Newgarden after a collision on lap 17 where the two Penske team mates clashed wheels through turn one. This resulted in Pagenaud losing his front wing – the endplate actually struck the aeroscreen of Felix Rosenqvist’s car – and sent the Frenchman down a lap. He would then spend the rest of the race trying to get back on the lead lap.

Sébastien Bourdais matched his best finish of the season in fifth, Takuma Sato finished in sixth, and Ryan Hunter-Reay finished seventh ahead of Pagenaud. Marcus Ericsson finished ninth to move within 60 points of O’Ward, and Jack Harvey completed the top ten.

Romain Grosjean finished a lap down in 14th, but ran solidly in the top ten for a good portion of the race – showing no hesitation to make aggressive, calculated passes for position in his much-anticipated oval racing debut.

Along with the multi-car crash on lap 65, there were other incidents to note: Ed Jones and Graham Rahal crashed out of the race after just three laps, and during this caution, Dalton Kellett was hit from behind by Ed Carpenter when Kellett checked up in front of him. Carpenter would later crash out on his own on lap 56, while Kellett would recover to finish in 12th, his best result of the season.

Alexander Rossi, who was contending for a podium finish, washed off the racing line and crashed exiting turn two on lap 201. Felix Rosenqvist retired with a mechanical failure on lap 211. And James Hinchcliffe finished seventeen laps down after starting the race from pit lane due to an electrical issue before the green flag was unfurled.

The IndyCar Series takes a two week break before a three race stretch along America’s west coast to end the season – beginning on 12 September at Portland International Raceway.

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Race result

PositionCarDriverTeamEngine
12Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
25Patricio O’WardMcLaren SPChevrolet
312Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
43Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
514Sebastien BourdaisFoytChevrolet
630Takuma SatoRLLHonda
728Ryan Hunter-ReayAndrettiHonda
822Simon PagenaudPenskeChevrolet
98Marcus EricssonGanassiHonda
1060Jack HarveyMeyer ShankHonda
1159Conor DalyCarlinChevrolet
124Dalton KellettFoytChevrolet
1348Tony KanaanGanassiHonda
1451Romain GrosjeanCoyne/RWRHonda
1529James HinchcliffeAndretti SteinbrennerHonda
167Felix RosenqvistMcLaren SPChevrolet
1727Alexander RossiAndrettiHonda
1826Colton HertaAndrettiHonda
199Scott DixonGanassiHonda
2010Alex PalouGanassiHonda
2121Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
2220Ed CarpenterCarpenterChevrolet
2315Graham RahalRLLHonda
2418Ed JonesCoyne/VasserHonda

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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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  • 8 comments on “Newgarden wins Gateway; O’Ward takes championship lead”

    1. Romain raced well. Went into the marbles once by mistake and that cost him. His race strategist always seems to be pitting at the wrong times. One would think that they would make a correct pit by mistake every once in a while.

      1. I think they saw the gains that Ryan Hunter-Reay made doing the undercut and tried it for RG. I think they were the 2nd car to pit.

        Unfortunately it backfired but he showed some massive potential for future oval races.

        1. tbh I was suprised that Hunter-Reay made it – I think he last stopped with 93 laps left and somehow made it when it looked like 80 was the limit. Going for the undercut with the early stop certainly helped him. Gone are the days when a light fuel load helps with speed, it’s clearly about having fresh tyres.

    2. That was really fun! RG drove like a man possessed until he got caught out by a yellow, great racing everywhere.

    3. Although it was reported at the time as a driveshaft failure leaving the pits, Herta post-race said the driveshaft failure is what caused him to pit in the first place.

      Poor guy. As my dad used to say, if he didn’t have bad luck, he wouldn’t have any luck at all!

      Reply moderated
    4. An enjoyable race to see in person despite far too many yellow flag laps early on – that broke the flow of the race for me.

      Unlike most we sat in the upper deck of the turn 1 grandstand – that meant watching turns 3&4 wasn’t easy as the cars were so far away but it still worked out pretty well and being able to see teh entire track certainly has its benefits.

      They have done a good job since the race came back in 2017 at getting a good crowd in, though it was a best half-full yesterday so probably down on 2019. It’s very close to St Louis (around 10 mins from downtown) and getting out of the car park didn’t take as long as expected (and getting back onto the Interstate too was reasonable). One to see if you get the chance, though $200 for 2 isn’t exactly a cheap night out.

      Without question the highlight was that 5-10 lap stint with Romain passing around 5 cars – especially into turn 3, most drivers use the faster 3-4 to line-up a pass into turn 1. Some exceptional driving for someone on their first oval start. I’ll need to watch the replay to get a feel for what happened but it looked like he stopped twice in around 10 laps, attempting to take advantage of the late caution to get fresher tyres and expecting to get a wave-around that didn’t happen. Strategy clearly didn’t work out.

      Disappointing to see so many crashes though and certainly not impressed with Rinus VeeKay for taking out 2 championship contenders in one corner, then saying he wasn’t at fault when he certainly looked like he was from my vantage point right above the impact point. Definitely comes across as Max Verstappen from 2018 – extremely fast, somewhat arrogant and unbeatable on his day, but needs to accept responsibility when he’s in the wrong (I don’t buy his argument that he wasn’t responsible as others were checking up all night and it caught him out – it didn’t look like the case from my seat).

      Not that he was the only one – Ed Jones in particular comes to mind as a clumsy crash, don’t think he was going to be anywhere near the apex so the contact with Rahal was inevitible. And disappointed to see Rossi make an unenforced error.

      Still looking forward to the final 3 races as classic Indycar tracks, so the run-in should be good to watch.

      1. @skydiverian Always good to hear from someone who was there.

        Don’t hold out too much hope for an explanation of what happened to Grosjean on the replay – the NBC guys seemed surprised to see him a lap down after the final caution too.

    5. It’s a three week break before Portland, not two as this article states.

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