Newgarden powers past Pagenaud for decisive Gateway win (VIDEO)

0 Comments

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.

Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023; leaves open possibility of returning at Ganassi

Jimmie Johnson race 2023
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images
0 Comments

Though he remains uncertain of his plans for next year, Jimmie Johnson won’t race full time in 2023, scaling back his schedule after running a full 17-race NTT IndyCar Series season.

“This was a difficult choice for me, but in my heart, I know it’s the right one,” Johnson said in a statement Monday morning. “I’m not exactly sure what the next chapter holds, but if an opportunity comes along that makes sense, I will consider it. I still have a bucket list of racing events I would like to take part in. Competing at this level in IndyCar has been such a great experience.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better team to race for than Chip Ganassi and Chip Ganassi Racing. Everyone worked extremely hard for the last two seasons, pushing to get the best performances out of me every single week. The support from my crew and teammates Dario (Franchitti), Scott (Dixon), Tony (Kanaan), Marcus (Ericsson) and Alex (Palou) went above and beyond anything I could have ever asked for.”

WHAT’S NEXT FOR JIMMIE JOHNSON: An analysis of his racing options for the 2023 season

Driving the No. 48 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing, Johnson ranked 21st in the 2022 points standings with a career-best fifth place July 24 at Iowa Speedway.

After running only road and street courses for Ganassi in 2021, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion added ovals this year. In his Indy 500 debut, he qualified 12th and finished 28th after a late crash.

“I do have a desire to go back (to IndyCar), it’s just at this point, I know what’s required to do a full schedule, and I don’t have that in me,” Johnson told AP. “I don’t have that passion that I need for myself to commit myself to a full season.”

That leaves open the concept of Johnson returning part time with Ganassi, perhaps exclusively on ovals.

“We are fully supportive of Jimmie,” team owner Chip Ganassi said in a statement. “He has been a valued member of our team and if we can find a way to continue working together, we would like to do so.”

During IndyCar’s season finale race weekend, Johnson told reporters Sept. 9 that he planned to explore his options with wife Chandra and daughters Evie and Lydia. Johnson told the Associated Press that his family is considering living abroad for a year or two, and he has toyed with the idea of running in the World Endurance Championship sports car series because of its international locales.

Johnson hasn’t ruled out IndyCar, IMSA sports cars or even a cameo in NASCAR next year. Since retiring from full-time NASCAR after the 2020 season, he has entered the endurance races of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac (including Saturday’s Petit Le Mans season finale). Johnson also wants to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and is a prime candidate for the Garage 56 entry (a joint project of NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports).

Johnson told the AP he is interested in becoming the latest driver to try “The Double” and run both the Coca-Cola 600 and Indy 500 on the same day (the most recent was Kurt Busch in 2014).

“You know me and endurance sports, and ‘The Double’ sounds awesome,” Johnson, a four-time Coke 600 winner, told AP. “I’ve always had this respect for the guys who have done ‘The Double.’ I would say it is more of a respect thing than a bucket-list item, and I’d love to put some energy into that idea and see if I can pull it off.”

It is less likely that he would return to IMSA’s endurance events because its top prototype series is being overhauled, limiting the amount of inventory available for the new LMDh cars in the rebranded GTP division.

Johnson has confirmed that he would retain primary sponsor Carvana, which has backed him in IndyCar the past two years. He revealed his decision Monday during the last episode of “Reinventing the Wheel,” Carvana Racing’s eight-part docuseries about his 2023 season.

“I’m thankful for the partnership with a company like Carvana for allowing me to take this journey in IndyCar, for seeing the value in our partnership and being open to future opportunities together,” Johnson said. “They have truly showed me that there are no finish lines in life. Along with Carvana, The American Legion, Ally, cbdMD and Frank August were there every step of the way, and I couldn’t have done it without all of them. Most importantly — and the true rockstars in all of this –my family, Chani, Evie and Lydia. They have always allowed me to chase my dreams, and we are all just really excited about what the future holds for all of us. I have enjoyed every minute of these last two years.”

Said Carvana co-founder Ryan Keeton: “During the past two years, Jimmie Johnson has been so amazing to collaborate with. Our team admires his passion, hard work and commitment to continuous improvement while also having fun, and we look forward to continuing to support him next year in this new chapter.”