Newgarden powers past Pagenaud for decisive Gateway win (VIDEO)

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MADISON, Ill. – Josef Newgarden saw an opportunity when Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud left the door open in Turn 1 at the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline.

He seized it with both hands in a forceful, authoritative move for the lead, and ultimately the win in the third to last race of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Newgarden took the lead after contact with Pagenaud into Turn 1 on Lap 218 of the 248-lap race, the move not being reviewed by INDYCAR Race Control, and then held on the remaining 30 laps to win his fourth race of the season.

Pagenaud fell to third behind Scott Dixon, who rallied all race despite an aero deficit for Honda, with Helio Castroneves fourth and Conor Daly posting by far his most impressive drive of the year in fifth.

The late pass for the lead spiced up an otherwise difficult to handle return to the series for Gateway. Despite a near capacity crowd in the front straight grandstands – it’d be fair to estimate a crowd north of 30,000 – the race was delayed after a fireworks display and a one-lap three-wide row salute, then saw two bizarre incidents out of the gate.

Tony Kanaan spun in Turn 2 and needed to pit before the green flag, although race laps started counting for a four-lap yellow period before a two-wide start.

Then shortly thereafter, polesitter Will Power spun in Turn 2 on the low line, and Takuma Sato and Ed Carpenter spun behind them. Carpenter careened back up the road over top of Power’s car in another scary looking incident. It wasn’t until Lap 18 that the race properly got going.

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Newgarden’s fourth win of the year, with 170 laps led, helped increase his points lead to 31 over Dixon with two races to go. … In second, Dixon scored his first top-five finish since winning at Road America and did an excellent job of damage limitations. … Alexander Rossi’s strong run of late continued with sixth. … Daly’s run was a needed top-five, his first of the year and first for the A.J. Foyt Enterprises team all season, and teammate Carlos Munoz was ninth. … Charlie Kimball, Daly’s in-race sparring partner, finished seventh and James Hinchcliffe, his wedding minister, was eighth. It marked both drivers best oval results this season. … Sebastien Bourdais returned to action with a solid top-10 and Sebastian Saavedra rounded off the first and only two Sebastian/en race of the IndyCar season with a clean drive to 11th.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ed Carpenter Racing. Two wrecked cars for Carpenter and JR Hildebrand left the team likely in need of its primary sponsor, Fuzzy’s Vodka, after a disappointing and expensive evening. … A pit safety infraction cost Graham Rahal a potential top-five finish and fell to 12th. … Other than Rossi, Andretti Autosport had a tough day with Marco Andretti 14th, Ryan Hunter-Reay 15th after a spin, and Sato out after the early Turn 2 crash. … Kanaan was parked by the team after going several laps down. He told NBCSN’s Jon Beekhuis “talk to Chip” about the decision and Ganassi declined comment, also confirmed by a team spokesperson. It marks the second time a Ganassi IndyCar has been retired owing to a team decision in as many weeks, the same having occurred to Max Chilton last week in Pocono. … Speaking of Chilton, a spin off Turn 4 ended his race and created a rare second straight DNF for the likable Englishman who’s usually a regular finisher.

NOTABLE: Team Penske did in fact win its fifth straight race, extending its streak for its longest win streak since 1994 (seven straight wins). … Newgarden’s four wins this year exceed his career total prior, three wins between 2015 and 2016. … Pagenaud’s year of metronomic consistency that in any other year would win him a title continued, as he banked his 12th top-five finish in 15 races and remained the only driver to complete every lap of the year.

QUOTABLE: Pagenaud to NBCSN after the race, and “the move:” “The move, you know, I don’t know what to say. I don’t have anything nice to say, so I’m not going to say it.”

RESULTS

MADISON, Illinois – Results Saturday of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 248, Running
2. (7) Scott Dixon, Honda, 248, Running
3. (4) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 248, Running
4. (3) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 248, Running
5. (11) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 248, Running
6. (9) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 248, Running
7. (18) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 248, Running
8. (10) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 248, Running
9. (8) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 248, Running
10. (19) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 248, Running
11. (21) Sebastian Saavedra, Honda, 248, Running
12. (13) Graham Rahal, Honda, 248, Running
13. (12) Ed Jones, Honda, 248, Running
14. (20) Marco Andretti, Honda, 248, Running
15. (14) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 205, Contact
16. (17) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 168, Mechanical
17. (16) Max Chilton, Honda, 164, Contact
18. (15) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 100, Contact
19. (6) Takuma Sato, Honda, 6, Contact
20. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 5, Contact
21. (5) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 5, Contact

Race Statistics:
Winner’s average speed: 139.465 mph
Time of Race: 2:13:22.0358
Margin of victory: 0.6850 of a second
Cautions: 5 for 43 laps
Lead changes: 11 among 6 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Power 1-5
Newgarden 6-60
Bourdais 61-65
Chilton 66
Newgarden 67-193
Pagenaud 104
Castroneves 105-156
Newgarden 157-158
Chilton 159-160
Newgarden 161-205
Pagenaud 206-217
Newgarden 218-248

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Newgarden 547, Dixon 516, Castroneves 505, Pagenaud 504, Power 464, Rahal 436, Rossi 422, Sato 410, Kanaan 365, Hinchcliffe 351.

NASCAR America: Scott Speed’s quest for Red Bull GRC three-peat

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Red Bull Global Rallycross points leader Scott Speed is going for his third consecutive championship next month (Saturday, October 14, 4:30 p.m. ET, NBC from Los Angeles) for the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team.

Prior to that, he joined Thursday’s edition of NBCSN’s NASCAR America, checking in with his former Red Bull Racing teammate Brian Vickers, show host Carolyn Manno and analyst Steve Letarte.

Speed talked teammate dynamics – he and Tanner Foust have been the class of the Red Bull GRC field for several years – and what it takes to succeed in the diverse championship that features racing on both pavement and dirt.

“Tanner comes from more of a more rally background and I come from more of an open-wheel, road course background,” Speed explained. “You have to meet in the middle and often times that creates success. Our personalties are polar opposites and that’s a good thing.”

One other thing Speed addressed was Austin Cindric’s couple notable incidents in the last month or so. Going for his maiden NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win, Cindric hit Kaz Grala at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to move for the lead and ultimately the win.

Cindric then made his GRC Supercars debut at the most recent weekend in Seattle and the two collided after a miscommunication in a preliminary race, prior to the Joker section of the course.

“He’s a young kid with not a lot of experience. He’s made a couple big mistakes. He came in like a wrecking ball,” Speed laughed.

“I was more mad because the car couldn’t restart at first. But it did, and we got going.”

Public clashes over future of Detroit Grand Prix

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DETROIT (AP) State officials are deciding whether to continue hosting the Detroit Grand Prix on Belle Isle, a state park and island that opponents say is negatively impacted by the annual event.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is considering whether to allow the race to continue after its current five-year contract expires after the 2018 race.

The department held a public meeting Wednesday at the Belle Isle Nature Center to gather feedback. Dozens of residents attended.

Opponents voiced concerns about the race’s environmental impact. Several conservation groups have requested a third-party environmental impact study on how the race affects island habitat.

But supporters say the race shines a spotlight on Detroit and stimulates the economy.

The Grand Prix has occurred on Belle Isle periodically since 1992 and annually since 2012.

FIA confirms Halo crash test details, International F3 plans and more

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Following the latest meeting of the FIA World Motor Sport Council in Paris, France, a number of updates concerning the championships under the governing body’s umbrella for 2018 had been confirmed.

The stand-out news was the confirmation of a Formula E race in Zurich for June 2018, marking motorsport’s return to Switzerland after being outlawed back in 1955.

A number of tweaks have also been made to the FIA Super Licence points allocation from next year, placing a greater onus on drivers to race in Formula 2 before stepping up to Formula 1.

Here’s a run-down of all the other news from the WMSC’s meeting in Paris.

FORMULA 1

Following the F1 Strategy Group’s approval of ‘Halo’ cockpit protection being introduced to F1 from 2018, the WMSC gave its approval to the required updates in the technical regulations to allow its implementation.

The various technical details can be found in the regulations by clicking here (under Article 17), but the key point is that teams will now be able to finalize their chassis designs for 2018 now they know the crash test details.

The WMSC also confirmed that Sentronics will be the exclusive supplier of fuel flow meters in F1 for 2018 and 2019.

There is also a clampdown on oil burn in F1 for 2018 following the controversy with Mercedes and Ferrari in 2017, as well as continued plans to ban the ‘shark fin’ from next year’s regulations.

One point we already knew but is nevertheless of interest is the reduction in power unit elements permitted to each driver per season. As of 2018, each driver will be limited to just three internal combustion engines, three MGU-Hs, three turbochargers, two control electronics and two MGU-Ks per season, down from four for each element in 2017.

No updates were made to the F1 calendar for 2018, but Bahrain and China are tipped to switch places, the latter becoming the third round of the season.

INTERNATIONAL FORMULA 3

The WMSC confirmed plans to form an International Formula 3 series in 2019 in a bid to complete the pyramid from Formula 4 to F1.

Both the FIA European F3 and GP3 Series co-exist as the third rung on the single-seater ladder at the moment, with the international championship tipped to replace the latter.

The WMSC called for expressions of interest for chassis and engine suppliers for an international series, as well as a promoter.

Loose regulations have also been formed that are similar to GP3’s current rules, with a 24-car grid desired over a nine-to-10 round season featuring single-make chassis, engines and tires.

The FIA is also pushing to create more regional F3 series in the future to bridge the gap between F4 and International F3.

FIA WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP

Following confirmation of Silverstone’s return to the 2018/19 ‘super season’ calendar last week, the WMSC ratified the schedule for the next WEC campaign that will last 13 months.

The technical regulation amendments for 2018 were also approved as part of the WEC’s bid to attract more manufacturers to the LMP1 class following Porsche’s shock exit.

“The FIA Endurance Commission was also encouraged to pursue a number of exciting and innovative proposals that it is currently working on, with the aim of enticing new manufacturers to the Championship,” part of the WMSC’s release reads.

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP

The FIA confirmed its calendar for the 2018 WRC season, with the addition of a rally in Turkey being announced in place of Poland.

1. Rally Monte Carlo – January 28
2. Rally Sweden – February 18
3. Rally Mexico – March 11
4. Tour de Corse – April 8
5. Rally Argentina – April 29
6. Rally de Portugal – May 20
7. Rally Italia – June 10
8. Rally Finland – July 29
9. Rally Germany – August 19
10. Rally Turkey – September 16
11. Rally Great Britain – October 7
12. Rally Spain – October 28
13. Rally Australia – November 18

To see the full release from the WMSC, click here.

FIA tweaks Super Licence points allocation for 2018

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The FIA has tweaked its points allocation for the Super Licence required to race in Formula 1 for 2018, placing a greater onus on Formula 2 as being the final step on the single-seater ladder.

In a bid to tighten up on the route drivers took to reach F1, the FIA introduced a new points system for the Super Licence from 2016.

Drivers require a score of 40 points in a three-year period to be granted an FIA Super Licence, with different scores being awarded for success across a variety of categories.

Previously, drivers scored the full 40 points required for a top-two finish in GP2 (now F2) or winning the title in IndyCar, FIA Formula 3, Formula E or the FIA World Endurance Championship’s LMP1 class.

As of 2018, 40 points will only be awarded for a top-three finish in F2 or winning the IndyCar drivers’ title, with the other series facing points reductions.

One of the most devalued championships is Formula V8 3.5, formerly seen as being equivalent to GP2, with a title win previously worth 35 points now worth just 20.

Here are the points breakdowns for the most valuable championships, running from P1 in the final standings to P10.

FIA Super Licence Points Allocations

Formula 2: 40-40-40-30-20-10-8-6-4-3
IndyCar: 40-30-20-10-8-6-4-3-2-1
FIA F3: 30-25-20-10-8-6-4-3-2-1
Formula E: 30-25-20-10-8-6-4-3-2-1
WEC LMP1: 30-24-20-16-12-10-8-6-4-2
GP3: 25-20-15-10-7-5-3-2-1-0
Formula V8 3.5: 20-15-10-8-6-4-3-2-1-0
Super Formula: 20-15-10-8-6-4-3-2-1-0

You can see the full breakdown by clicking here.