Josef Newgarden won his fourth IndyCar race of the season at the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 and strengthened his point lead for the 2017 championship. The 26 year old Tennessean has now won more races in one season than in his previous five seasons of IndyCar racing. Scott Dixon came in second to maintain his hold on second place in the standings. Simon Pagenand was third. 2003 winner Helio Castroneves was fourth. The Gateway Motor Speedway is a mile and a quarter long and highly banked. The race drew a capacity crowd and surprisingly high TV ratings. The Indy cars hadn’t raced there since 2003. The race will most likely return to the schedule in 2018.
As expected, during qualifying, Team Penske chewed up and spit out the rest of the qualifiers. Will Power won his 50th pole which ties him with Bobby Unser for 3rd most career poles. Newgarden started next to him with Castroneves 3rd and Pagenand 4th. As the race got underway Tony Kanaan spun on the pace lap before the green flag came up so the drivers took single file positions under yellow. Kanaan made it to the pits and had his cars rear end replaced but came back out 3 laps down. The green flag dropped and the race started. Newgarden jumped to a lead but coming out of the 1st turn Power spun and took out Takuma Sato and Ed Carpenter bringing the yellow light out. Kanaan, Power, and Carpenter all agreed that the track was very slick.
Newgarden dominated the event, leading most of the 243 laps. With about 30 laps to go, the cars had to make their last required pit stops. During that last series Pagenand’s crew got him out before Newgarden and he took the lead. As the last few laps were winding down Newgarden, who had the faster car, kept trying to get around his teammate. Pagenand kept dropping low to keep Newgarden at bay. Finally with 2 laps to go, Pagenand come out of turn 2 and gave Newgarden just enough of a lane that he could squeeze underneath and regain the lead. As he executed his maneuver his right rear tire touched Pagenand’s left rear tire. Pagenand went high on the track and Dixon was able to slip under him for second place, Newgarden went on to score the win.
After the race an infuriated Pagenand denounced his teammate for disrespecting him on the track and said that he had “lost all respect” for Newgarden. Pagenand did not seem to get much sympathy from anyone including boss Roger Penske. It’s called racing, Simon. Newgarden was driving to win. You were driving to keep from losing. Pagnand is the defending series champ. He has talent. He won 5 races last year. This year he has a single victory although he has more top 5 finishes than any of his teammates. He seems to be driving to finish rather than racing to win. There are 2 races left for 2017. While Scott Dixon has a theoretical chance of winning the IndyCar championship, I believe Newgarden has it in the bag. The boys race again this coming Sunday at Watkins Glenn New York for the Grand Prix at the Glen.
Colts First Preseason Win
I was on the horns of a dilemma last Saturday night. The Colts game was on one TV channel and the Indy Car race was on another…..at the same time. So, what to do? Channel flipping, of course. I was able to get the meat of both the events without missing out on the most exciting action of either. As to the Colts, The Boys in Blue played aggressively and with a confidence I hadn’t seen in the first two games. The running was on track. Two rushing touchdowns were scored by the Colts. Both quarterbacks Scott Tolzien and Stephen Morris played capably, Tolzien in particular. The defense came up with some turnovers and some hard hits. The pass rush still isn’t there yet. Anyway the Colts came away with a win,
Some good news is that the Horseshoe have uncovered a center to start while Ryan Kelly recovers from his foot injury. Rookie free agent Deyshawn Bond is now at the pivot. If the name is familiar to you it’s because Deyshawn is a Warren Central grad who attended University of Cincinnati. Obviously he is thrilled to be playing in front of the home folks and the team is glad to have found a competent fill in at the center position.
Monday the Colts released punter Jeff Locke. Locked had been signed off of the Vikings roster. Rookie free agent Rigoberto Sanchez from the University of Hawaii has won the job. Sanchez was a bit more versatile than Locke in that he can kick off and pick kick in addition to punting. Rookie long snapper Tom Hennessy was traded to the New York Jets for safety Ronald Martin. Converted linebacker Luke Rhodes will now handle the long snapping.