MADISON, Ill. (Sunday, Aug. 30, 2020) – By using a late-race pit strategy call and winning a daring pit-exit duel, defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Josef Newgarden claimed his second victory of 2020 in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 Race 2 on Sunday, Aug. 30 at World Wide Technology Raceway.
Newgarden, driving the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet, pitted for the final time on Lap 153 from the third position to try to undercut the leaders and gain time on them. Exiting pit lane, Newgarden was locked in a stirring side-by-side race with Pato O’Ward in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.
As the two approached the backstretch, Newgarden won the game of chicken and pulled ahead of 2020 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year O’Ward and cycled through to the lead on Lap 157 of the 200-lap race. He held off a hard-charging O’Ward in the final laps until last week’s Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Takuma Sato made contact with the wall in Turn 2 with four laps to go, resulting in a caution and an end to the race. Sato finished ninth.
“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.
“Really proud of my team. They won the race. I didn’t win it; they won it.”
Following Newgarden and O’Ward in the top five were Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Rinus VeeKay in the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet and Saturday’s Race 1 winner Scott Dixon in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
O’Ward’s second-place finish matched his career-best finish from earlier this year at Road America July 12. It was his third podium finish of the year. O’Ward is third in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES point standings.
“Man, we had a great weekend,” said O’Ward, who finished third in Saturday’s race at WWTR. “Our objective was to come in and try and score two podiums, and we did that. It would have been great to score a win. We’re so close.
“This Arrow McLaren SP No. 5 Chevrolet was very strong right out of the gates. We were super, super competitive. We’re knocking on the door, man. We’re very close, and we’re going to keep pushing. I know our time will come. We have to stay there.”
Power led 40 laps and was ahead as the final round of green flag pit stops began, but 2014 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Power was caught in traffic attempting to enter pit lane, and he entered the warm-up lane behind the slower car of Ed Carpenter in the No. 20 United States Air Force Chevrolet, forcing him to lose time.
“I felt like we had the car to win,” Power said. “Obviously, it’s a traffic game. I’ve got to thank all of the guys. The Verizon 12 car Chevy was really strong today. We had great stops, great car. The strategy certainly didn’t work out obviously at the end, but still very happy to get a podium.”
VeeKay, a 19-year-old NTT INDYCAR SERIES rookie, scored his best career finish and third top-10 result of the season, besting his fifth-place finish in the GMR Grand Prix on July 4 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. VeeKay was the biggest gainer of the day as he climbed from the 18th starting position.
The race on the 1.25-mile oval just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, featured a number of interesting, different strategies from the start as drivers in the lead pack deployed several different pit tactics to try to one-up each other.
NTT P1 Award winner Sato led the first 59 laps of the race, but the pit strategy call to stay out longer than the rest of the field hurt him as he lost the lead and fell to eighth after green flag pit stops cycled. Sato led seven more laps throughout the race for a race-high 66.
From there, O’Ward and Power traded the lead on the following green flag pit stop cycles and hounded each other for the lead on green flag runs while Newgarden patiently waited to capitalize for his second win at WWTR. Newgarden won here in 2017 en route to his first series championship.
With the lead, Newgarden gained on points leader Dixon. He entered the race 117 points behind five-time series champion Dixon but closed the gap to 96. O’Ward is 119 behind Dixon.
Finishing the day in 19th was 2004 NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Tony Kanaan in the No. 14 Big Machine Vodka / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet. This was the final race of Kanaan’s “TK Last Lap” tour where he competed on all the oval races this season. 2013 Indy 500 winner Kanaan holds the record for the most consecutive starts in the series at 318, which ended after the season-opening race June 6 at Texas Motor Speedway.
“I wish I could have given the boys and A.J. (Foyt) and Big Machine a better result, but the rest of the day was fun,” Kanaan said. “It was a good way to end it. I want to thank my fans, my team and everyone who has been involved in this journey, my family. It’s been good.
“I’m done for this year but hopefully not done totally, but we’ll see. My fingers are crossed that maybe I could come back for a proper last lap with my fans, but for now, drop the mic.”
The next race on the NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule is the INDYCAR Harvest Grand Prix Doubleheader Oct. 2-3 on the 2.439-mile IMS road course.
‘What They’re Saying’ from Bommarito Automotive Group Race 2
Top 10 Finishers
1st – JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “This was all a pit stop victory right here for me. 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.” (About pursuit of seies leader Scott Dixon): “Well, we can’t give up on it yet. Yesterday was a pretty big blow. We’ve been pretty bitten by bad luck this year. The yellows have really gone against us probably three or four of the eight races, so what are you going to do? Sometimes it comes your way; sometimes it doesn’t. I feel like this year they really haven’t come our way, but that’s racing. You’ve got to hopefully get on a good cycle, and maybe this will be a little kickstarter for the end of the season for us.”
2nd – PATO O’WARD (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “Man, we had a great weekend. Our objective was to come in and try and score two podiums, and we did that. It would have been great to score a win. We’re so close. This Arrow McLaren SP No. 5 Chevrolet was very strong right out of the gates. We were super, super competitive. We’re knocking on the door, man. We’re very close, and we’re going to keep pushing. I know our time will come. We have to stay there.” (Did you have anything for Josef at the end?): “It would be great to say I did, but honestly, I was really struggling … Whenever I got the countdown to 10 laps to go, I was pushing, pushing, pushing to get close to him and try and strike, but I just couldn’t quite do it. Today was harder than yesterday for passing. The asphalt on the track was quite a bit hotter, so that makes it quite a bit tougher with big trains of cars. We got to the back of the pack, and we kind of got stuck there.”
3rd – WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “I felt like we had the car to win. Obviously, it’s a traffic game. I’ve got to thank all of the guys. The Verizon 12 car Chevy was really strong today. We had great stops, great car. The strategy certainly didn’t work out obviously at the end, but still very happy to get a podium.” (About your bad luck this season): “We’ve certainly had a lot of potential this year and very strange year. But I feel very fortunate that I get to drive the Verizon car, and we get to do this and can actually have some fans here. It’s a fantastic job. Obviously, we’d love to win, but it wasn’t today.”
4th – RINUS VEEKAY (No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet): “It was a great race, one of the best races I have ever driven. Yesterday, I started 14th and finished sixth, so today, starting 18th, I was aiming for a top-10 finish. I had an amazing first lap, got around a lot of guys. The strategy was brilliant, so shout out to my team for making this possible. Those last few laps were very tough; everyone was all over the place. Just missed out on the podium, but I don’t care about that right now. P4 was the best I could do.”
5th – SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “The PNC Bank crew did a great job today. We got into a little bit of traffic in those sequences, and Zach Veach totally screwed us. He was laps down and was totally slowing everyone down. I’m not sure if he was trying to help his teammate (Colton) Herta, but he screwed my race and (Takuma) Sato’s race. I’m not sure how that happens when you are fellow Honda teams. I would have expected something else, especially with the other manufacturer running P1-4. It was a decent points’ day, and we just made the most of what we had.”
6th – COLTON HERTA (No. 88 Andretti Captstone Turbine #ShiftToGreen Honda): “I think we had a really good car today, again, and a really good opportunity to get on the podium. Our qualifying just hindered us, starting in 10th. We made it up about sixth and then slowly made up spots in stops and led some laps. We were looking pretty good there toward the end but had some contact that shuffled us back to sixth. It’s unfortunate, but that’s kind of how racing is. Sometimes it’s brutal. Until next time, hopefully we’ll be back at a racetrack real soon.”
7th – FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 Monster Energy Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “That was definitely an improvement on ovals, in general, and to yesterday’s finish (P8). I just couldn’t really take advantage of many moments today because it was a pretty static race. We were a bit unlucky when we caught Ed Carpenter going really slow. He let Conor Daly by because I think they’re friends, and then he kind of blocked me, and we lost a lot of time. I got it back in the end there with the yellow. We got really lucky. We used the momentum to get past those two guys, and I thought we had a good finish with the Monster Energy car.”
8th – CONOR DALY (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “It was a pretty good day for us today starting 15th. There was a lot of chaos at the front with the oil dry on the track, so that was hectic. We lost a little bit because we got stuck on the inside at the beginning, but we gained a lot coming back on the outside in Turns 3 and 4 on the first lap. The No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet was just fantastic. We worked our way forward every stop, and the guys did a great job in the pits. We were just so fast. We got all the way up behind (Scott) Dixon, but just at the end we had a big moment of understeer on the last stint, which put us back one position. To start the race in 15th and finish eighth here today and to have four of the five races together with Carlin all with top-10 finishes is just really awesome. I’m just happy and thankful to be here and to have had the opportunity to be competitive with this team and get so close to a podium so many times.”
9th – TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 ABeam Consulting Honda): “We led the race and saved a bunch of fuel, but we caught the tail end of the pack. Today there was a lot of dust offline, and it was very difficult to overtake. The team made the decision to stay out, but it seems that everybody undercut us on the first stint, and that was it. After that, we tried to stretch the fuel and then go off sequence but caught traffic every time. Some of the cars were four laps down, and the team said they heard they were told, ‘Keep the 30 car behind,’ which is not racing. It’s not sportsmanlike, and I’m not very happy with that. But there is nothing we can do about it.”
10th – SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 18 SealMaster Honda): “We finished in the top 10, and the car was phenomenal. It was a solid Race 2 for the SealMaster Honda team in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500. We really had a top-five car. I just got caught up in lapped traffic at the end, so we ended up sitting where we were. Overall, really proud of the engineering team getting the car sorted.”
Remainder of Drivers (alphabetical – with finishing position):
MARCO ANDRETTI (Finished 15th – No. 98 Oberto Specialty Meats / Circle K Honda): “The guys did a good job of putting the Oberto Circle K car back together after yesterday – big thanks to them for that. The race car was good; we shuffled through the top here and there with strategy. But we just got caught in traffic when we needed to be flying, and it just wasn’t our day in the pits. We’ll look ahead.”
OLIVER ASKEW (Finished 17th – No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “We got passed by too many cars at the start. Made it really tough to get through, but I feel like we had a car to be well into the top 10, maybe the top five. We had a fast car in clean air when we had it. Just disappointed at the start and made our race really difficult from there. Looking forward to getting back on a road course in a couple weeks.”
ED CARPENTER (Finished 21st – No. 20 United States Air Force Chevrolet): “This was a really disappointing end to a very tough year. It was really only a couple of months since our first race was in June. It started off well there, but it’s been a lot of bad luck since then. Today was just another tough day. The car wasn’t the same after I got hit at the start yesterday. There are still a few races left in 2020, so we’ll focus on Rinus (VeeKay) and Conor (Daly) and finish out the season strong as a team.”
MARCUS ERICSSON (Finished 23rd – No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “I think the Huski Chocolate Honda was really fast today. We had the pace again today to be fighting for a podium and a win. Again, we lost a lot of positions in the pit sequence, unfortunately, so we need to look at that and analyze what’s going on there. Then, we had an issue with the rear wing. I tried to hang on and reported that something was wrong because the car was sliding everywhere. After a while, we realized that something was wrong with the rear wing, so they brought us in to change the rear wing. We obviously lost a lot of laps, but then when we got out the car felt good again and really fast. We were still a lot of laps down. It’s a disappointing day.”
JACK HARVEY (Finished 13th – No. 60 AutoNation / SiriusXM Honda): “It’s been a pretty frustrating weekend for us. We keep having great qualifying runs, and we somehow just can’t seem to get a good race result. I don’t think we were as quick as we were yesterday. I think the hotter track temperatures laid the car, not necessarily bad in balance, but just lacking grip. One of these days we will turn one of these good qualifying runs into a good race result.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (Finished 11th – No. 28 DHL Honda): “Overall, it was kind of an uneventful day for the 28 team, which is both good and bad. We would have liked a little more passing. It was really a track position day, and we just weren’t in a position to gain. We’re looking forward to the next race.”
TONY KANAAN (Finished 19th – No. 14 Big Machine Vodka / AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “Track position was everything. We had a pretty decent start, moved up a little bit but honestly, I think it was pretty boring race — but it was a boring race for everyone. Mixed feelings on my last one. I wish I could have given the boys and A.J. (Foyt) and Big Machine a better result, but the rest of the day was fun. It was a good way to end it. I want to thank my fans, my team and everyone who has been involved in this journey, my family. It’s been good. I’m done for this year but hopefully not done totally, but we’ll see. My fingers are crossed that maybe I could come back for a proper last lap with my fans, but for now, drop the mic.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (Finished 18th – No. 4 Tresiba / AJ Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet): “Well, kind of a tough day for the No. 4 Tresiba Chevrolet car. We started 21st, kind of ran around there, made a couple of passes at the start and then settled into our pace. I think everyone was really struggling with passing. There wasn’t a whole lot of overtaking, but I know my guys in pit lane got me at least two spots that I know of, so big ups to them, as normal. They did a great job in pit lane, and we’ll learn from this and move forward.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (Finished 16th – No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet): “Yeah, the whole weekend didn’t go well. Yesterday really put us on the back foot, and we didn’t get to really feel the race car. Today, Turn 1 just obviously got us shuffled and sandwiched and didn’t want to end my race in the first corner, so I slowed down and lost all momentum. It caused a freight train around me. We had a really good car the whole race; we were just stuck at the back. I was super happy with the Menards Chevy, but I think we had one of the fastest laps of the race. We just got stuck in the back, so let’s regroup and go to the next race. I guess it’s that kind of a season where you just have to take every race as it comes.”
ALEX PALOU (Finished 12th – No. 55 Guaranteed Rate Honda): “That was an uneventful race. It was super difficult to pass. I think the only passing that happened was at the start and with the pit strategy, where we gained four or five positions. It was easy to follow other cars but just very hard to get a run on them, and that was the same for everyone on track. It ended up being about strategy and trying to make that work in our favor. It’s a shame because we had a really fast car. We had the fastest race lap, and that shows how good our No. 55 Guaranteed Rate car is. I felt really comfortable with the car. It’s too bad we couldn’t finish any higher.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (Finished 20th – No. 15 United Rentals Honda): “Race 2 was disappointing for the United Rentals team just because of where we started. Today is a lesson in how important qualifying is. It was hard to pass on track. The tire is very, very hard here, and it makes it difficult for the drivers, but I’ve got to say it was massively better today. If you look at our fastest lap time, it was as quick as (Pato) O’Ward, who finished second. It’s just a shame we started at the back. We never were able to make our way forward. We lost a lap early when we came in the pits with (leader Josef) Newgarden, and he just beat us out, which put us a lap down, and from there we kind of scrambled. But I’ve got to say the silver lining in all this is yes, this weekend sucked for us, but we made great gains today. Twentieth doesn’t look like it, but I assure you we did. Head down, focus forward, and we’ll get them at the next one.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI (Finished 14th – No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda): “It felt like we were a day behind everyone, honestly. I think the NAPA AutoCare guys did a good job rebuilding a whole new car overnight. The pace was OK. At the start, everyone had a pretty good idea of what they had and what they were supposed to do, and I was doing it for the first time. It’s a track position race after that; you can’t pass. It’s just pretty processional. We tried to mix up the strategy, but ultimately since it’s Race 2 here, everyone kind of knows what they’re looking for, and it’s pretty hard gaining.”
ZACH VEACH (Finished 22nd – No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “We started off the day way too free, unfortunately. The limited amount of track time we get, it doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to build something under you that you’re comfortable with. By the last couple of stints, the track was finally to a place where the car was manageable, but I just struggled the first part of the race. And then we had a pit stop with a loose nut that made us come back in. That unfortunately put the final nail in the coffin. I still want to thank the Gainbridge guys for the work they put in. It just wasn’t our day.”