“Pit Stops Gave us Victory Today.” Josef Newgarden Wins at WWTR

In the second race of the Bommarito Automotive 500, lap traffic and pit stops would be the keys to victory for Team Penske‘s Josef Newgarden, who claws back twenty points on championship leader Scott Dixon.

Like Saturday, the race start was delayed again. This time, a service vehicle pre-race dropped oil on the track, causing a major cleanup delay.

The race officially started under caution for the first two laps, on top of the pace laps, and finally went green on lap three. It was a great start for pole sitter and Saturday’s runner up Takuma Sato, who cleared second place Newgarden before turn one, and the two darted away from the pack.

Chaos behind benefited bold youngsters like Santino Ferrucci and Rinus VeeKay, who made moves stick around the outside and gaining both drivers plenty of track position. Ferrucci jumped from sixteenth to tenth, while Veekay was close behind going from eighteenth to twelfth.

It would be a fairly routine stint until the aforementioned Dutchman VeeKay was the first of the leaders to make a pit stop on lap 41. Newgarden would come in from second for his pit stop on lap 47, and would be jumped by Pato O’Ward, Will Power, and VeeKay.

Race leader Sato stayed out late, the strategy that won him race one of the doubleheader, and pitted on lap 59. Unfortunately, he lost time stuck behind the A.J. Foyt Enterprises entry of Charlie Kimball and slipped to eighth. O’Ward would yet again find himself in the lead of the race after the first round of pit stops.

The young Mexican would dominate another stint like he did Saturday, taking him over 200 laps led this season. He would make his next pit stop at lap 96 as he caught the back of Tony Kanaan to avoid the same issue Sato had. Unfortunately, he would also be jumped in the pits by Power, who made his stop two laps later.

Sato would again run much later than the others, staying out until lap 109. He would again be passed very easily. However, Colton Herta, who also stayed out late and pit on lap 113, would be able to come out in clean air behind the lead group of Power, O’Ward, Newgarden, and VeeKay, settling into fifth.

Marcus Ericsson had to pit on lap 131 with a loose rear wing. The Swede was running in the top ten with both of his Chip Ganassi Racing teammates, but had that chance squandered by this issue. Ericsson’s crew would be able to get him back out on track, but he would finish in last place.

Power would lead the next stint, as some of the leaders began to come in on lap 151. O’Ward, Newgarden, and VeeKay would all pit, and Newgarden would win this race off pit road. He would fight side by side with O’Ward on pit exit as Power got caught in traffic trying to get to pit road on the next lap. After some “choice” words with his crew for a move that essentially cost them a win, Power would finish third.

From here, Newgarden would inherit the lead after pit stops and would seemingly coast to his second win of the season. However, Alexander Rossi and Simon Pagenaud would get scrappy for fourteenth place, and lap traffic would make the last ten laps exciting.

Sato, who found himself in ninth, would make contact with the wall in turn two, bringing out the caution with four laps to go. With not enough time left to gather the field up and restart it, Newgarden would win under caution. Second place finisher O’Ward would have loved another run at him, but would finish both races this weekend on the podium.

VeeKay would finish fourth place, his best result on an oval in the NTT IndyCar Series. Felix Rosenqvist would also set a new career best on an oval of seventh, one position better than Saturday.

Conor Daly would continue his streak of never finishing outside the top ten at World Wide Technology Raceway, finishing eighth in his last race for Carlin this season. He will return to Ed Carpenter Racing for the rest of the season.

Ferrucci, who made all those moves earlier in the race, was also able to recover from another pit road mistake to finish in tenth place.

Lastly, a very special mention must be made for Tony Kanaan, who more than likely has run his last full time IndyCar Series race after an illustrious twenty-two year career. In the off chance you happen to be reading this, thank you for everything, TK. He would finish nineteenth.

This would be Newgarden’s second race win this season, and brings the gap to Dixon down to 96 points with three races left to go in the season. IndyCar is still looking to reschedule the event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course that was postponed due to COVID-19, but if that doesn’t come to fruition it may be too little to late to stop “Dixie” from winning his sixth championship.

The next race will be another doubleheader event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the road course, for the IndyCar Harvest GP on 02 and 03 October.

1 1 Josef Newgarden USA Team Penske 1:32:15
2 5 Pato O’Ward MEX Arrow McLaren SP -1.435
3 12 Will Power AUS Team Penske -3.358
4 21 Rinus VeeKay (R) NED Ed Carpenter Racing -4.436
5 9 Scott Dixon NZL Chip Ganassi Racing -6.217
6 88 Colton Herta USA Andretti-Steinbrenner Autosport -7.002
7 10 Felix Rosenqvist SWE Chip Ganassi Racing -9.689
8 59 Conor Daly USA Carlin -9.919
9 30 Takuma Sato JPN Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing -10.813
10 18 Santino Ferrucci USA Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan -15.674
11 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay USA Andretti Autosport -16.656
12 55 Alex Palou (R) ESP Dale Coyne Racing w/ Team Goh -18.858
13 60 Jack Harvey ENG Meyer Shank Racing -20.077
14 27 Alexander Rossi USA Andretti Autosport -20.989
15 98 Marco Andretti USA Andretti Herta Autosport with Marco Andretti and Curb-Agajanian – 1 lap
16 22 Simon Pagenaud FRA Team Penske -1 lap
17 7 Oliver Askew (R) USA Arrow McLaren SP -1 lap
18 4 Charlie Kimball USA A.J. Foyt Enterprises -1 lap
19 14 Tony Kanaan BRA A.J. Foyt Enterprises -1 lap
20 15 Graham Rahal USA Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing – 2 laps
21 20 Ed Carpenter USA Ed Carpenter Racing – 3 laps
22 26 Zach Veach USA Andretti Autosport – 4 laps
23 8 Marcus Ericsson SWE Chip Ganassi Racing -10 laps
(R) – Rookie

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