Team Penske NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race Report

Track:                  World Wide Technology Raceway

Race:                   Bommarito Automotive Group 500

Date:                   August 21, 2021

No. 2 Sonsio Dallara/Chevrolet – Josef Newgarden

Start: 3rd

Finish: 1st – 20th career INDYCAR SERIES win

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 260/260

Laps Led: 138

Points Position: 3rd (-22 pts)

  • The NTT INDYCAR SERIES points table was shaken dramatically Saturday night in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway, and no driver took advantage of his competitor’s misfortune more than Josef Newgarden. The two-time series champ cruised to his second win of the season in the No. 2 Sonsio Chevrolet and now finds himself just 22 markers out of the lead with three races remaining.
  • Newgarden began the day by posting the fastest lap in the only practice session before qualifying the No. 2 Chevrolet in the third position. The 260-lap race began with myriad caution flags that interrupted the racing action, one of which came on lap 16 when Newgarden and teammate, Simon Pagenaud, made slight contact in the first turn that damaged the front wing on Pagenaud’s No. 22 Chevrolet.
  • Race strategist Tim Cindric and Newgarden discussed visiting pit road to check for damage to the left-rear wheel of the No. 2 machine but elected to ride it out until the first pit stop of the day. Great pit work by the No. 2 team put Newgarden in position to take the lead on lap 78.
  • From there it looked like a battle was shaping up between Newgarden and the No. 26 of Colton Herta before Herta retired from the race with an issue. Newgarden masterfully controlled his tire wear and fuel consumption the rest of the way to visit Victory Lane for the 20th time in his career, extending his position as the current winningest American driver in the series.

Quote: Any win is big. It’s been disappointing on a couple of these last events because I felt like we’ve had winning cars. It was tough to have a not-so-good-race in your hometown of Nashville. And the GP wasn’t great. We came here with just an amazing car. Scott McLaughlin tested for us. He made a whole new package for us. I’m real thankful for my team and teammates and just happy to be falling back into this chase with Team Chevy and having Sonsio on the car tonight was good. Team Penske is good here. I’m so proud of this team! Team Chevy did awesome as you can tell! Great mileage. Great performance. This is so good.”

No. 3 DEX Imaging Dallara/Chevrolet – Scott McLaughlin

Start: 11th

Finish: 4th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 260/260

Laps Led:  0

Points Position:  13th (-190)

  • As a rookie in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, Scott McLaughlin is just getting used to running on ovals. You would not know it by his record thus far in 2021 as he finished fourth in Saturday night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway in the No. 3 DEX Imaging Chevrolet. He finished second in the first race of the doubleheader weekend at Texas Motor Speedway earlier in the year.
  • Qualifying was an area that McLaughlin wanted to improve upon to help accentuate the race pace he has shown this year. His 11th-place starting position on Saturday represented his best qualifying effort in the last eight races.
  • A hectic start to the race saw McLaughlin drop a couple of spots as the event tried to find a rhythm after several caution flags slowed the field. Once everything began to settle down, the three-time Australian Supercars champion began to work his way through the field like a veteran.
  • McLaughlin easily maneuvered into the top 10 with the help of a fast No. 3 Chevrolet, along with solid strategy and work by his pit crew. As attrition began to take its toll on the field, McLaughlin and team were able to capitalize and enter the top five with just under 100 laps remaining in the event.
  • The New Zealand ace drove flawlessly the rest of the way to finish in the fourth position, his second top-five finish of the year as he looks to put together a strong finish to his maiden INDYCAR SERIES campaign.
  • The next race for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES comes at Portland International Raceway on Sunday, September 12, the first race in a three-race West Coast swing to settle the championship.

Quote: “It was an awesome day for us and the DEX Imaging Chevrolet. I think we had a pretty decent car. I would say initially on the restarts, I just didn’t pick the right hole and was playing it safe in some ways. At about the 10th restart or so, I really got into it and got comfortable and got ourselves into a good position there at the end. We tested here some time ago, and I’m happy that my feedback has actually translated into some performance gains. It shows I’m learning the car and starting to trust myself – that’s the biggest part of my journey right now. Eventually, when I get more laps under my belt, we will get more results like this every week.”

No. 12 Verizon 5G Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power

Start: 1st – 63rd career INDYCAR SERIES pole position

Finish: 3rd

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 260/260

Laps Led:  1

Points Position:  9th (-120)

  • Will Power followed up his first win of the season last week by coming to World Wide Technology Raceway and earning his first pole of the year, along with a third-place finish on Saturday night in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500.
  • Power earned his 63rd-career pole in Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session, which put him at the front of the field for the green. Power led the opening lap but fell to second after getting passed by Colton Herta.  During the first stint of the race, Power said the Verizon 5G Chevrolet was really good as track position would be key to staying up front all night long. As the first round of stops played out, Power remained in second thanks to great work by his Verizon team.
  • Power slipped back to third just prior to lap 80. Trying to hit a specific fuel number from race strategist Ron Ruzewski, Power slipped back to fifth at the race’s halfway point as he maintained his track position while saving enough gas to make it to the end of the race on just one more stop.
  • The remainder of the race continued to be a track position game for the No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevrolet. Following a few accidents and mechanical problems by some of the other front runners, Power found himself third as the checkers flew. It was Power’s fourth podium finish of the 2021 INDYCAR SERIES season.

Quote: “Stoked to finish on the podium with our Verizon Chevrolet tonight.  We didn’t have a car that could compete with our teammate for the win, but it was good enough to stay up front and out of all the mess behind us.  We had a pretty good strategy, just lost some track position in the middle of the race.  All in all, not a bad night. It was more of a mentally draining race.  When you are pushing hard, it takes it out of you.”

No. 22 Menards Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud

Start: 4th

Finish: 8th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 260/260

Laps Led:  1

Points Position:  7th (-115)

  • Simon Pagenaud and the No. 22 Menards team had an adversity-filled race on Saturday night at World Wide Technology Raceway, but managed to still earn a top-10 finish in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500.
  • Pagenaud matched his best qualifying effort of the season on Saturday afternoon and started the race from the fourth position. He held off a few charges from behind and slotted into fourth as the race began. Unfortunately, trouble struck the Menards Chevrolet on lap 17 when Pagenaud jumped to the inside of teammate Josef Newgarden into turn one. The two made contact, causing damage to Pagenaud’s front wing. A subsequent caution for debris from the Menards Chevrolet allowed Pagenaud to pit for repairs, but he lost a lap in the process.
  • A caution just before lap 60 gave Pagenaud an attempt to get his lap back by staying out on the track. Just as the team had hoped, a caution on the subsequent restart allowed Pagenaud to get his lap back, putting him at the back of the field. After being as far back at 22nd at one point, Pagenaud had driven the Menards Chevrolet back to 14th by lap 120. During a round of green-flag stops, Pagenaud led a lap in the process.
  • As race strategist Kyle Moyer continued to run on an alternate strategy to gain some positions, Pagenaud found himself back at the tail end of the lead lap and keeping himself out of trouble.  As the attrition continued to pile up around him, Pagenaud was able to keep the Menards Chevrolet out of trouble, resulting in an eventual eighth-place finish.  With the finish, he moved up one position in the INDYCAR SERIES point standings to seventh. 

Quote: “I’m very proud of how this Menards Chevy team battled back from the contact Josef and I had earlier in the race. I want to go back and look at the video to see exactly what I could have done differently in that situation. Obviously, you don’t like having contact with anyone, especially your teammate. It had a big effect on our day, but our car was so good that we were able to rebound a bit. The West Coast trip features three tracks that I love and I’m excited to get there.”