Saturday in St. Louis was all about surviving. With a one-day show for the NTT IndyCar Series, the name of the game as the race started was attrition. Nine cars failed to make it to the finish, and a familiar name found himself on the top step of the podium by night’s end. Josef Newgarden earned his second victory of the season, and the third win in the last four races for Team Penske.
Finishing second was Pato O’Ward, who had a mega weekend as he takes over the lead in the championship. It is the fifth podium of the season for the Arrow McLaren SP driver, as he aims to capture a championship in just his second season. Will Power joined them on the podium, just hours after earning his 63rd career pole.
Bommarito Automotive Group 500 Box Score
Rookie Scott McLaughlin gave Roger Penske three cars in the top four, and Sebastien Bourdais rounded out the top five on Saturday night, giving Chevrolet a clean sweep at the top. A pair of veteran Honda drivers finished 6th and 7th in Takuma Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Simon Pagenaud rebounded nicely from some friendly fire from Newgarden early in the race and finished 8th while Marcus Ericsson and Jack Harvey quietly rounded out the top ten.
The biggest moment in this wild race came on Lap 65 when Rinus VeeKay took out the top pair of Ganassi drivers in Scott Dixon and current points leader Alex Palou. Heading into Indianapolis last weekend, Palou held a 42-point lead in the championship. After tonight, the Ganassi driver is ten points behind O’Ward. The move also took Dixon out of the race, who had been the only driver this season to complete every lap of competition.
The race got off to a rough start with James Hinchcliffe having mechanical issues and starting the race three laps down. Just three laps into the race, Ed Jones and Graham Rahal tangled, with both drivers going home early. The two each blamed the other for the incident, with Graham taking a deep jab at the Dale Coyne Racing driver. “He ran out of talent,” said Rahal. “I don’t know what else to say.”
With several contenders seemingly out of contention, it appeared as though it might be a night to remember for Michael Andretti’s team. Colton Herta led 101 laps on the night, but after a late-race pit stop, the driver who was leading the race was suddenly out of it.
As if that were not enough, more trouble awaited Herta’s teammate Alexander Rossi. After his pit stop on Lap 201, Rossi slid up the track and into the outside wall, ending the pursuit of his first podium this season. It has been a dreadful year for the Andretti bunch, but especially the driver of the No. 27 machine. “Was looking like a pretty straight forward P3 until I threw it away,” Rossi stated. “Nothing we can do except start over tomorrow and get back to work.”
The series will have a couple of weeks off before they make the west coast swing for the final three races of the season. The next race on the schedule is the Grand Prix of Portland on September 12. NBC will provide coverage for the event, which begins at 3 PM ET on Sunday.
Photos courtesy of IndyCar