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Josef Newgarden Survives Chaotic Race At Gateway

Josef Newgarden all smiles after a dominant Saturday night under the lights at World Wide Technology Raceway. (Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski)

In a race of attrition, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden survived a wild night of chaos to win the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway.

Overall, Josef Newgarden led a total of 138 laps in the 260-lap short oval event, after making contact with teammate Simon Pagenaud early in the race, which caused front wing damage to the No. 22 Chevrolet. Colton Herta led 101 laps before a driveshaft failure forced the Andretti Autosport driver to retire from the race.

This left Newgarden and Pato O’Ward to settle the race among themselves.

O’Ward got close (0.5397) to Newgarden in the closing laps, but the Arrow McLaren SP pilot ran out of time. Given his years of experience fighting for a championship, Newgarden believes that his team is ready for the challenge ahead.

“I feel confident that we have a championship-winning team,” Newgarden said.

“Every single year we’ve had the competitive capacity to challenge for the championship. I feel no different now.”

Newgarden walked away with the race-winning trophy, but O’Ward left WWT Raceway with the championship points lead.

Leaving WWT Raceway leading the championship gives Pato O’Ward plenty of confidence entering the final three races of the season. (Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski)

In his second year as a full-time IndyCar driver, the 22-year-old Mexican driver does not appear to be feeling the pressure, especially with the stakes being so high in such a competitive championship battle.

“You try to not think about it too much because there’s just so much racing,” O’Ward said.

“And whenever it’s so competitive like this year in INDYCAR, a lot can shift in one race as we saw today. So, you’re just always trying to maximize every session you’re in, whether it’s practice, qualifying or the race.”

VeeKay Mistake Costs Ganassi

A mistake by Rinus VeeKay proved to be very costly for two Chip Ganassi Racing drivers in the championship hunt. On Lap 65, VeeKay tried to make a bold move on the restart, attempting to overtake championship points leader Alex Palou on the inside entering Turn 1. Instead, he hit Palou’s No. 10 Honda as both cars crashed into the wall.

Scott Dixon got clipped by Palou and had nowhere to go. The six-time IndyCar champion suffered heavy damage to the rear of the car. After making some repairs, the No. 9 Honda was able to run a handful of laps before eventually retiring from the race.

For the second consecutive weekend, bad luck struck Palou. At the IMS Road Course, he was running towards the front of the field until the engine expired. Now, getting taken out by another competitor’s mistake is a tough pill to swallow as the championship points lead was lost to Pato O’Ward.

Grosjean Oval Debut

After making 179 starts in Formula 1, Romain Grosjean has raced on many road and street courses. However, the Frenchman had never competed on an oval track until arriving at WWT Raceway. Previously, Grosjean was not interested in the danger of IndyCar oval racing, especially after the fiery crash in his final F1 start in last year’s Bahrain Grand Prix.

Last month, he participated in a test session at WWT Raceway to prepare for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500. Grosjean started 14th and ended the race in the same position. An untimely caution trapped the No. 51 Honda one lap down, but Grosjean kept pace with cars running inside the top-10 during the final green flag run.

Formula 1 veteran Romain Grosjean’s oval debut taught the 35-year-old something new. (Photo Credit: Joe Skibinski)

The ex-F1 driver made a few dazzling passes on more experienced oval racers and brought the car home in one piece. A unique learning experience in a new style of racing for Grosjean ended with a mission accomplished. Now, we wait to see if he commits to trying out larger oval tracks such as Texas and Indianapolis.

Singing The Rossi Blues

At this point, Alexander Rossi has to be wondering what it will take for him to win a race for the first time in over two years. Rossi’s last IndyCar victory took place on June 23, 2019, at Road America.

Rossi looked strong during the race, running competitively inside the top-five. On Lap 201, he washed up the track into the marbles and smacked the wall. This ended Rossi’s night, with the No. 27 Honda finishing 17th.

Exiting WWT Raceway, Rossi sits 12th in the standings, 176 points behind.

Grand Prix of Portland

With three races remaining in the 2021 season, the NTT IndyCar Series championship battle heats up heading into the season-ending west coast swing. On Sept. 12 (3 p.m. ET, NBC), the first of three races on the west coast begins with the Grand Prix of Portland.

Coming into Portland International Raceway, Pato O’Ward takes the championship points lead. He has a 10-point advantage over Alex Palou, who will look to put two disappointing races behind him.

Josef Newgarden moves up a spot to third in the title fight over Scott Dixon, 22 points back. Now, Dixon is 43 points behind. Marcus Ericsson remains in the hunt, with the No. 8 Honda being at a 60-point disadvantage.

After being absent in 2020, due to the pandemic, Portland International Raceway is ready for the NTT IndyCar Series to return to the Pacific Northwest. (Photo Credit: James Black)

Bommarito Automotive Group 500 Top-10 Results: Newgarden, O’Ward, Power, McLaughlin, Bourdais, Sato, Hunter-Reay, Pagenaud, Ericsson, Harvey.

Kobe Lambeth is a 2021 graduate of UNC Charlotte, who earned his undergraduate degree in Communication Studies (mass media concentration), with a double minor in Journalism and American Studies. In February 2007, he initially developed a strong passion for motorsports. His childhood dream is to work in the motorsports industry for a long time. In June 2017, his journey began as a freelance journalist and social media specialist for RockinghamNow, covering high school sports and leading a Twitter project. He was a part of expanded coverage of high school football within his local community. Through the use of Twitter, his team had a goal of significantly increasing the number of followers on multiple accounts. At The Podium Finish, he intends to provide professional motorsports coverage, focusing on series such as the NASCAR Cup Series, NTT IndyCar Series and more. He's also a Freelance Editor at NASCAR Digital Media and Multimedia Producer at GRID Network

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