The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway did not fail to disappoint in a race filled with plenty of drama with massive permutations for the championship standings.
Josef Newgarden took a magnificent victory at Gateway, his third at the circuit, and his second of the 2021 season to bring him firmly into title contention. Meanwhile, Patricio O’Ward took advantage of misfortune from those behind to take second place and now leaves with the lead of the IndyCar championship.
Newgarden initially started in third but assumed the lead after long-time leader Colton Herta suffered a mechanical issue after having led the majority of the race.
The Penske driver was able to fight his way to the front after leapfrogging teammate Will Power and Herta out of the pits during the third safety car period, caused by Ed Carpenter.
However, Herta with incredible pace in the middle stint was able to take the lead from Newgarden until a driveshaft failure ended the Andretti driver’s hopes. This is the second race in three that Herta has retired from a race-winning position after crashing out at Nashville two weeks ago.
Newgarden came under a late challenge from Alexander Rossi for the lead, but it was misfortune for the Andretti driver who made contact with the wall with 60 laps remaining.
On the restart, Newgarden spent the final 50 laps fending off Patricio O’Ward who qualified in fifth place. The gap was reduced to less than half a second on the final few laps, but it was the Penske driver who came out victorious.
Second place for O’Ward now puts him on 435 points with Alex Palou 10 points behind. The win for Newgarden puts him third, a further 12 points behind after Chip Ganassi Scott Dixon’s incident with Palou and Rinus VeeKay.
Immediately after the restart following the fourth caution period, VeeKay charged into the back of the Spaniard, collecting Dixon in the process.
Will Power started on pole position and was in search of his second consecutive win but would eventually settle for the final podium position, with Scott McLaughlin close behind in a fantastic fourth place.
Sebastien Bourdais’s brave strategy call allowed the A.J.Foyt driver to finish in fifth position ahead of Takuma Sato who ran a similar race to the Frenchman. With fresh-tyres they were able to push aggressively on the final restart to take a few extra positions.
Ryan Hunter-Reay was finished in seventh just 5.8s off the Japanese driver while Simon Pagenaud managed to claim eighth after coming back from contact with Newgarden on Lap 16 where he lost a portion of his front wing and was relegated to the back after coming into the pits.
Marcus Ericsson and Jack Harvey rounded out the Top Ten in a remarkable race where only 13 cars crossed the finish line on the lead lap, something we haven’t seen outside of the Indy 500 in years.
Romain Grosjean made his oval debut in impressive fashion, making some aggressive overtakes to find his way into the Top Ten. Unfortunately, after missing a wave-around he would finish a lap down from the leader in 14th.
It was a promising start for Graham Rahal who had qualified within the Top Ten, that was until a collision with Ed Jones on Lap 3 promptly retired both from the race.