The old guys still know how to get the job done. The average age of Saturday night’s podium at Gateway was 41 years old. Takuma Sato was on the top step, capturing his second win of the season after going through a rough week following the incident at Pocono. It was a photo finish as he edged out Ed Carpenter by 0.0399 seconds at the line. For Carpenter, it was his best finish since his runner-up in the 2018 Indianapolis 500. Tony Kanaan earned his first podium since the 2017 race at Texas, and it was the first podium for AJ Foyt Racing since Detroit in 2015.
The race itself was wild, from start to finish. Drivers were battling wheel-to-wheel all night long, and the dominant team for most of the race was Dale Coyne Racing. Sebastien Bourdais and Santino Ferrucci were running 1-2 for quite some time before the Frenchman spun and hit the outside wall. Ferrucci matched his career-best 4th place finish for a third time this season. Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top five and moved into 2nd place in the championship standings.
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Conor Daly continued his march towards the front of the field and was fighting for a podium finish. He finished in 6th after starting back in 18th position. He has improved his finishing position in every race he has started this season. Newgarden nearly had another disastrous final lap, just like at Mid-Ohio. The championship points leader tried to make a late move on Ferrucci, but ended up going into the grass and spun on the front stretch. He salvaged a 7th place finish, but it should have been much better than that. Ryan Hunter-Reay had a quiet evening but managed to grab a solid 8th place result. His Andretti companions were just behind him, with Colton Herta and Marco Andretti each earning a top-ten finish.
Felix Rosenqvist may have had the best looking car in the field, but he could only muster an 11th place result. James Hinchcliffe had a couple of bad breaks during the race and ended up 12th. Alexander Rossi simply didn’t have it tonight and struggled to a 13th place finish which really hurt him in terms of the championship. Graham Rahal struggled all night and finished 18th after watching his teammate secure his second victory this season.
While there may have been five drivers still battling for the championship heading into tonight’s race, it is likely now just a three-person fight. Newgarden did add to his lead, which is now 38 points over his teammate. Rossi slipped to 3rd and will have a major uphill battle in these final two rounds as he is 46 points behind Josef.
Scott Dixon and Will Power remain 4th and 5th, but their hopes virtually ended tonight with DNFs. Power lost control of his Verizon machine after making a pit stop and slammed into the outside wall. Dixon had mechanical issues early in the race, and they were unable to continue after a valiant effort in the garage. They finished 20th and 22nd respectively. Sato moved up a couple of spots to 6th after getting his 5th career victory, and Ferrucci improved three spots to 9th.
This is shaping up to be another year where the championship is decided between a pair of Penske drivers. Just two races remain in the 2019 season. The next race on the schedule is the Grand Prix of Portland on September 1. NBC will provide coverage for the event, which begins at 3 PM ET on Sunday.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar
TAKUMA SATO: “This year the cheering, (the fans) screaming my name so much. I just can’t find the words to thank you for all the support. It was special, particularly like you said, after the difficult circumstances, to come here, qualify strong, which I’m really proud of the team. A difficult start. I was sandwiched, then go backwards. It was difficult to get away the first stint. Head down, did our job, believe in ourselves, take the moment for the chance to come back. We came back. I think this is the whole effort of the team. They are completely behind me. So happy to bring the car to the win for them. I’m very, very happy.”
ED CARPENTER: “Even just another straightaway, I maybe could have gotten Takuma! We were really good on the long runs tonight. Qualifying so bad didn’t help us. Early in the race, the guys asked me what I needed and I said clear track more than anything. I thought the race was really good and we had made really good adjustments to it. Days like yesterday are really tough and dejecting for the whole team. We kept our heads down and never gave up, came back strong tonight and got a result. This was a great way to finish the year. It would have been a little better if we could have gotten a win, I definitely gave it all I had. It was fun to be back up at the front again.”
TONY KANAAN: “Great night. We knew we had a strong car last night. Obviously, we missed in qualifying so I was a little frustrated but once we got to the front the car was fast. We played the strategy right, we got a little bit of luck on our side – finally – and once we got to the front, we showed them that we belong there. It wasn’t like, ‘Ah they got lucky.’ When we restarted, there were over 40 laps to go and nobody could touch us. It was an awesome result for us.”
SANTINO FERRUCCI: “I had so much fun leading this race. Having open air like that and being able to run to a pace, run your lines and not have to think about it and just enjoy it. But hats off to our crew. We had a race car, a winning race car. It’s just a little bit unfortunate that we got caught by the yellow. Then at the end, I was racing so hard to get back into the top three. I was really trying to bring home some hardware for the boys. Unfortunately, not everything went our way but I’m happy we came home in fourth and picked up some more points in the Rookie of the Year standings and jumped into the top 10 in the overall championship.”
SIMON PAGENAUD: “Wow, what a night. That is a race that I am going to be excited to re-watch. Honestly, I really don’t know much about what happened because as a driver you are kind of like a horse. You just have to keep going. We had a really good car and after five laps the car was really, really strong. It had a lot of pace and we could really keep it up through the stint. Really, really struggled on restarts. Just no grip. Some of it is me and some of it, I don’t know what it is. Certainly some work we need to do. Wow, it was an eventful race. Lots of passing and lots of elbows out, out there and with the strategies, it seemed like it was fun. The fans had a great show tonight.”
CONOR DALY: “I’m super happy with our result tonight. The No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet was so strong and consistent the entire night. We just kept fine-tuning it and making it even better every time we came into pit lane. Anytime we got in clean air we made progress and we were able to run people down. I really thought we were going to be on the podium tonight and that’s really hard to take. The strategy game of INDYCAR is just crazy and we just got a little bit unlucky, but to be unlucky and finish sixth is pretty awesome. I’m thankful to close out this oval run with Carlin on such a high note and thankful to Gallagher for giving me a chance to show what I could do for their program with Carlin.”
JOSEF NEWGARDEN: “For us tonight, our guys did a great job. Our PPG car was fast. We were better in clean air, which was unfortunate because we got stuck in in dirty air more often than not. I think if we were a little bit better in traffic we could have made something happen. But, they did a great job. Great stops. Good calls from everybody. I’m really proud of the team. Now we’ve just got to try and have a couple of better rounds here to finish the season off.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY: “Unfortunately, luck didn’t go our way today. The DHL team had a really good fuel strategy going where we would have been P1 on our strategy, which would have ended up panning out if that second-to-last yellow hadn’t come out. That was the one that really put us in. After saving fuel for so long, I think a top 10 – P8 – is about as good as we could hope for.”
COLTON HERTA: “Tonight was a bit of a grind all night and I really enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun on those restarts and we passed a lot of cars. There were a million strategies based on how the cautions played out and I think we were on the right one until the final caution came out. The No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda was able to pass three or four cars on the final restart so we still finished ninth, which is great for the team. It’s a shame though because without the final caution we could have finished within the top five. That’s short oval racing though, sometimes you get burned with yellows and sometimes you get lucky. Now let’s hope we can continue to be quick at Portland.”
MARCO ANDRETTI: “We hung in there and gave ourselves a lot of opportunity on going long and fighting through the vibrations and staying out. We almost bailed a couple times, but just hung tough and got the yellows and put ourselves in a decent position. I felt weak on restarts, which is usually one of my fortes. Not a bad night but I think the potential was a lot better.”
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: “The No. 18 SealMaster Honda was really on it tonight. It was a perfect weekend and I just couldn’t quite bring the finish. It’s my fault, for sure. We were doing the job on fuel and we were quick enough early on to stay at the front. I got the car down to the apex and it took off. I didn’t expect it. I wasn’t pushing very hard. We were saving fuel. It was really strange. I just hate it for the team. They did such a good job. We had a podium finish in our hands.”
SCOTT DIXON: “It’s a shame for the PNC Bank No. 9 team. The car was overheating for some reason. I think they saw it starting on Lap 1 and it got progressively worse. We stayed out just until the point the engine would fail and came in to try and diagnose the problem. The guys brought the car in to change the radiator. Great job by the whole team getting it fixed and back out on track. We ran the maximum laps we could for points and pulled in after that. It just wasn’t our day today.”
MARCUS ERICSSON: “It was like a race with a lot of different faces. First off at the start, I got chopped in Turn 3 and I sort of half-spun the car and managed to stay out of the way of other cars in the wall, so that wasn’t the best start to the race. There was no damage, so we could come in to clean up the grass on the car and get after it again. From then on, we had a really fast car. The Arrow SPM guys did a great job to adjust the car after practice yesterday because we were struggling a bit in traffic yesterday and I think the changes we did for today were really working. The Arrow car was fast out there and we were moving up through the field. Unfortunately on one of the stops, – on the out lap – I had a moment in Turn 3 and made contact with the wall, so that sort of put our day in a bad place and we lost two laps. Still, the guys did a great job to repair the car very quickly. From then on, it was a tough race but again we showed a lot of pace and I don’t think there were a lot of cars out there that were faster than us. It’s a bit like our season: A lot of potential, a lot of pace, but not the results to show for it. Today was disappointing, but we’ll take the positives and move forward.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE: “It was an up-and-down weekend for us. Practice one had a lot of problems, so we lost a bunch of track time. Luckily, (teammate) Marcus (Ericsson) had been out here and tested, and we were able to put his setup on our car for qualifying and got the (No.) 5 Arrow car a decent spot for the start of the race. It was a really tough race. Every single set of our tires were vibrating. That first stint, we were actually able to stay out longer and kind of manage our tires a bit better than everyone else. We caught a lucky yellow that cycled us up to the front. From there, we spent the first half of the race just trying to manage our tires as best we could. We weren’t good over short runs, but we were decent over a long run so the early part of the race it was fine. Then, unfortunately, we had like five yellows in a row and with a car that just wasn’t good on a short run, we just kept getting hosed. That last restart, [Ryan] Hunter-Reay hit us pretty hard, put us down into the grass in Turn 1 and bent something in the car, so from there we were just trying to hang on. It’s unfortunate. The Arrow SPM guys deserved better today. They were killer in the pits, we made up spots every time we came into pit lane. Unfortunately, the yellows, and the way the race fell, just didn’t fall in our favor.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL: “Firstly, a huge congratulations to the entire Carlin team and the 59 team especially. Conor (Daly) drove an awesome race. Every time I saw him during the race he was going by guys on starts and restarts. I can’t give the 23 crew enough credit for the work they did on the No. 23 ripKurrent Carlin Chevrolet last night to get it ready to race tonight. We fought really hard all night and we were able to finally get our lead lap back. We had a little bit of a miscommunication in pit lane that put us a lap down mid-pack, but overall a really fighting night for the ripKurrent car for Carlin.”
MATHEUS LEIST: “Tough race for us – we got all the yellows at the wrong time. Nothing worked out today for us, but the good thing is that (teammate) Tony (Kanaan) did an awesome job. He’s probably one of the best oval drivers ever and I’m very proud of him today finishing third. That’s a huge accomplishment for the team after such a difficult year. That was the good side of our race and we’ll celebrate it and then focus on next week at Portland.”
SPENCER PIGOT: “I had a good run coming out of Turn 2. Charlie Kimball had gotten past me but was struggling for momentum. He went to the inside going into Turn 3. I thought I was far enough up alongside him to get some respect and get some space, but he turned in and I was there. It’s an unfortunate end to the day; I feel bad for all of the guys. I thought we had a pretty good car and were making good gains towards the front of the field.”
WILL POWER: “Yeah, the car was great. The car was really good. I came out on cold tires and just got a little bit out of the groove. And man, it’s like ice. There are so many marbles because they brought the new tire that really sheds the rubber. And, that was going to happen in the race, no matter what. But I guess it’s my bad for getting up there. You just can’t put an inch on that stuff. Man, you just go straight. It’s just ridiculous. It sucks for the guys. We had such a good car. They had to hang out all day. We had a good chance.”
GRAHAM RAHAL: “I’m disappointed. Actually, the car wasn’t that bad. We just had a couple of sets of tires that vibrated unbelievably bad. It’s frustrating. As a team we need to get a little bit of luck on our side. The guys are working incredibly hard, but we’re not seeing the fruits of our labor and it’s disappointing. I feel bad for them. Congrats to (teammate) Takuma (Sato) and the No. 30 guys on their win.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST: “I think we started out with good track position, but we were pretty average overall in the Monster Energy Honda. We were trying to save some fuel and then we went another route and I just think it was just one of those nights. We dropped down to around P13, but made our way back up a bit. It was a good effort from the team. We’ll still give it our best on the ovals and I’m confident we’ll get there. This week we got to run all the laps and at least we got that valuable experience under our belts.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI: “I think we had the car and we drove it up to P3 on pace. It’s just the way the series works and the way the yellows fall sometimes. It can be frustrating. (Josef Newgarden) spins and is unaffected; crashes in Toronto and is unaffected. It’s just the way it goes. I think the whole (No.) 27 NAPA Andretti Honda team did a really good job overnight, putting together a fast race car. We were able to get from 11th to third and were content running up there and could run the same pace, if not quicker, than Josef. It’s unfortunate the way it goes down, the series is really difficult. But we’ve got two more to go and we’ll just keep our head down and try to win races.”
ZACH VEACH: “Honestly, we were on the wrong end of a bad yellow all night. You never want the yellow to come out after you pit because then you get trapped a lap down. Literally, we pitted three times and the yellow came out within three laps each time. We just kept getting trapped a lap down, which wasn’t our fault. We had a car that was good enough to be in the top 10, we paced the race leader, we ran away from the race leader at one point – but was a lap down while doing it. The pace was there, but lady luck wasn’t.”