Josef Newgarden extended his lead in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship to 31 points over Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon. Newgarden who started the race from second place on grid took the lead into turn 1 following team mate and pole sitter Will Power’s retirement from the race.
Towards the end of the race, while running in second place, Newgarden closed in on team mate, reigning series champion Simon Pagenaud to take the lead of the race, the pair touched forcing Pagenaud to run wide and as a result the Frenchman lost second place in the race.
Speaking following the race, Newgarden commented by saying:
Simon gave me a lane to work with. “I had a good tow on him, put my car inside in the opening, got about halfway alongside of him.
“One thing I didn’t want to do was touch him too hard. I think if I would have stayed too far left, I would have jumped the curb and that would have taken both of us out,” added Newgarden, chasing his first series championship in his sixth season and first with Team Penske. “I tried to get Simon to move over a little when we were coming to the opening of the corner. We both had to slow up. Fortunately, (it) worked out well for us on the (No.) 2 car side.
The victory was Newgarden’s fourth of the season, following victories at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, the Honda Indy Toronto, the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio and at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Newgarden went on to say:
It was a great night. First off, we had an awesome crowd. It was amazing actually what was out here tonight. I felt like the energy for this event, it really spurred everyone on. You should have seen all the drivers. I felt like everyone was a little extra nervous tonight because of the energy in this place. I remember watching this race when I was younger. They stopped coming here, I think 2003 was the last race. It’s fun to have it back in 2017 and see it so well supported for the first year. It was a great night to go racing. I felt like the PPG Chevrolet was going to be good tonight. We had four good cars at Team Penske. Happy to get the win on the No. 2 car side because I felt like we had the car to beat. I didn’t want us to be denied tonight for sure. Simon (Pagenaud) gave me a lane to work with. I had a good tow on him, put my car inside in the opening, got about halfway alongside of him. One thing I didn’t want to do was touch him too hard. I think if I would have stayed too far left, I would have jumped the curb and that would have taken both of us out. I tried to get Simon to move over a little when we were coming to the opening of the corner. We both had to slow up. Fortunately worked out well for us. Pagenaud, didn’t get up into the wall or anything like that, so I would say it worked out okay for him, too.
Simon Pagenaud in the No.1 Menards Chevrolet finished the race on the podium in third place behind Scott Dixon and speaking following the race, the Frenchman commented by saying:
I think on a road course, that was a beautiful pass. “But we’re not on a road course. There, we are going 40-50 mph (slower). Here, we’re doing 190 (mph). It’s completely different story.
“Obviously, I wanted to win. We all want to win. Sometimes, you know, it is what it is. We had a great race with the Menards Chevrolet. All of the adjustments left us with a great car at the end. When we needed to come up with a great pit stop, we did. Those guys really are the best. They always come through when they have to. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out there at the end. I can’t say that I’m overly pleased, but that’s racing. We still have the championship out there, so we’ll get ready for Watkins Glen.
Helio Castroeves in the No.3 Shell Fuel Rewards Chevrolet finished the race in fourth place and speaking following the race he commented by saying:
The Shell Fuel Rewards Chevy was awesome tonight. We had a little mistake on pit road that cost us and that was unfortunate. The car was definitely good enough to win. It was fantastic to be back at Gateway. The crowd was amazing. It looks like the whole community has embraced this event.
Pole sitter Power in the No.12 Verizon Chevrolet retired from the race after five laps and speaking following the race, he commented by saying:
It wasn’t a fun ride. Josef (Newgarden) went around the outside and got some of his dirty air and just lost it. Unfortunate. Very frustrating. Unbelievably frustrating for the whole Verizon Chevrolet team. It was just slippery. Super slippery. I wish I had done a few more burnouts to get more heat in the rear tires. The fronts were very slippery too. He just took my air going around on the outside. I tried to get back to power and got some dirty air. It just went. Unfortunate.