IndyCar: Will Power holds off Rossi, Dixon to win at Gateway; points battle tightens


Will Power made it very clear to Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi and Joseph Newgarden in Saturday night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park: he’s not giving up on this season’s championship.

This year’s Indianapolis 500 and Indianapolis Grand Prix winner captured his third victory of the season, closing to within 68 points of series leader Dixon in the Verizon IndyCar Series points standings now with two races remaining. However, the season finale — and championship-deciding race — at Sonoma awards double points to drivers, so Power still has a shot at rallying to win the title.

Power came into Saturday night’s race 81 points behind Dixon, the last of four drivers still in mathematical contention for the title – but also the furthest behind Dixon.

“Will made some good points there,” Dixon said. “He’s still a little ways back, but we know how strong they’re going to be at Portland and Sonoma.

“It’s a bit of a bummer. I’m a little disappointed at myself. … Just bummed. We lost two or three points, but ultimately we want to be stretching it.”

Power made one final stop with 16 laps to go for a full fuel load (just 4.2 seconds), and that was the deciding factor that clinched the 35th career IndyCar win for him.

“Roger (team owner Roger Penske) said go and we did,” Power said. “We had a great car. I was kind of mad at Dixon because he pushed me up in the marbles, so that gave me extra motivation to get him back and get back to the front.

“Woo, I had so much fun. I’ve never passed so many cars. I was so stoked when (Penske) said just go hard.”

Dixon stopped on Lap 240 for just under three seconds but not for a totally full fuel load, but Power was not to be denied as he cycled around to regain the lead on Lap 241.

Alexander Rossi, who came into the race just 29 points behind Dixon, played fuel-save mode for the last 70 laps and rallied back after falling to eighth to finish second, slightly closing the gap on Dixon to make it just a 26-point margin for the championship.

Rossi, who came into the race just 29 points behind Dixon, played fuel-save mode for the last 70 laps and rallied back after falling to eighth to finish second.

“I don’t know that we had enough for Will, even if it was the final race for the finish, but the important thing is we beat Scott and closed the gap a little bit.”

Dixon finished third, followed by Simon Pagenaud, Zach Veach, Spencer Pigot, Josef Newgarden, Ed Jones, Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal.

“I think we had a winning car,” Pagenaud said. “When Will passed me, I was saving fuel, I tried to hold the high lane but it didn’t work. I lost about six, seven positions but we came back because the car was so good.”

Veach earned his second-best finish of the season.

“You’ve got to push,” Veach said. “Just so thankful to have another top-10 finish and another top-five.”

Newgarden, who was the defending race winner coming into Saturday’s race, falls to 78 points behind Dixon with two races left.

Power passed Dixon on Lap 150 of the 248-lap race and with the exception of that stop on Lap 232, managed to hold on to the lead the rest of the way.

As the race crossed the 200-lap mark, Rossi was running third when he was passed twice within a two-lap stretch, first by Ed Jones and then Andretti Autosport teammate Zach Veach, dropping Rossi unceremoniously to fifth place.

And then on Lap 207, Simon Pagenaud also passed Rossi, who fell to sixth with 47 laps remaining. Spencer Pigot and Joseph Newgarden also passed Rossi, who was eighth by Lap 222.

But Rossi worked his fuel-save strategy to perfection and still made up some ground on Dixon in the standings.


The race wasn’t even one lap old when Sebastien Bourdais got loose and hit the wall in a single-car incident, knocking him out of the race.

“It felt like I was pushed by the air, really,” Bourdais told NBCSN. “The car just kind of started to make a slow rear slide. I really have no idea if I made a mistake or if I got touched.”

Bourdais finished last in the 21-driver field.

“I didn’t try to do anything stupid or special, the car just got away, I guess,” Bourdais said. “We’ll keep plugging away and see what we can do at Portland and Sonoma (the final two races of the season).”

On Lap 172, just moments after he was making a run on second place, Ryan Hunter-Reay suddenly lost all power in his Andretti Autosport Honda. He tried to make it to his pit, but needed a tow. His team was unable to get the car restarted and RHR retired with a disappointing 20th place finish.

“Something with the fuel pressure, all of a sudden it just died,” Hunter-Reay told NBCSN. “It’s a real shame. We were marching forward. I was having fun out there. It’s a bummer, but that’s racing.”

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Tom Blomqvist keeps eye on IndyCar during impressive rise: ‘ I would love to give it a go’


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In between two of his latest superstar-driver-in-waiting performances, Tom Blomqvist walked through the Daytona International Speedway garage in anonymity.

“Nobody knows who the (expletive) I am,” he said to a team member with a laugh (and without a trace of being miffed), evincing the cheeky humor of someone born in England, raised in New Zealand and also of Swedish descent.

The lack of recognition in the garage might have been because he was clad in a relatively nondescript shirt, hat and sunglasses instead of a colorful firesuit covered by sponsor logos. But he also was on the way to a Friday race eve media availability where his entrance was greeted by only one reporter (after a few minutes).

During a news conference a day earlier, he sat patiently on the dais while his Indy 500-winning teammates and car owner fielded nearly all the questions – even though Blomqvist had turned maybe the most impressive lap of the month to win the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position in the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category.

The Meyer Shank Racing driver still might lack the attention commensurate with his already world-class CV (which expanded Sunday with his second consecutive Rolex 24  victory for MSR), but Blomqvist, 29, clearly isn’t bothered by it.

He carries the quiet confidence of knowing his immense talent will ensure results that will make him impossible to ignore.

“To a degree, I guess, it’s definitely ramped up a lot for me,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports. “In America, I’m starting to get a lot more (attention). In the last year, I’ve quite often got a lot of maybe what you’d call the glory moments. It’s been fun. And within the paddock, there’s a lot of respect for me anyway. It’s been good.”

There have been several moments of acclaim since he joined MSR barely a year ago in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. In his first start for the team at last year’s Rolex 24, Blomqvist turned in a Herculean performance to position the No. 60 Acura for the victory (giving way to Helio Castroneves because he was too “cooked” to complete the last 74 minutes).

He was even better this year at Daytona.

He ripped off a monster “one and done” pole-winning lap to beat the clock in qualifying on the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course. During the race, Blomqvist was as dominant in his first stint as his last in the ARX-06 while taking the checkered flag. He set the mark for the fastest time on Lap 6 that no one topped over the final 755 laps.

The 10 fastest laps in the race belonged to Blomqvist, carrying over his speed from the 2022 when he won the Petit Le Mans season finale to clinch the premier prototype championship at Michelin Road Atlanta.

A year earlier at the same track, he had burst onto the radar of car owner Mike Shank, who was intrigued by Blomqvist’s results as a BMW factory driver in the Formula E and DTM series. In 2014, Blomqvist also finished between second in F3, between champion Esteban Ocon (now with Alpine’s F1 team) and Max Verstappen (who has won the past two Formula One championships).

“He did a lot of high-level stuff, and then kind of fell out of favor, or I don’t know what happened, but he was a free agent,” Shank said. “I started looking at his numbers, and I’m like, ‘We should test this guy. So I take him to Road Atlanta in the fall of ’21, and he got in the car and just slayed it.”

Within minutes, he had called co-owner Jim Meyer.

“I’ve got our guy,” Shank said. “This is our guy. There’s no question about it.

Honda Performance Development president David Salters hugs Tom Blomqvist after the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

“Now what’s happened, though, and I think if you look back at the Rolex here last year (and) what he did, he’s a gold nugget. He reminds me a little bit when (Robert) Wickens came into IndyCar out of DTM (as a rookie in 2018).

“He truly believes he’s the fastest guy out there, and he proved it (at the Rolex 24).”

Said David Salters, president for Honda Performance Development: “We love Tom. He’s the real deal, isn’t he? Immensely talented, super smart, and on it.

The great thing about our teams, the strength in depth is tremendous. But if you look through the sports car racing now, that’s the standard you have to have. Tom, brilliant, Filipe (Albuquerque), brilliant. Ricky (Taylor). You can go through that list. They’re all superstars. Tom is awesome. His lap in qualifying quite frankly was unbelievable.”

Having conquered one of the world’s greatest endurance races twice with Acura, Blomqvist could be ticketed for the world’s biggest race next – the Indy 500 — with HPD’s primary brand.

He tested a Dallara-Honda for MSR last October at Sebring International Raceway, and while he plans to focus solely on IMSA this season, he remains very intrigued by IndyCar.

And with Castroneves, 47, beginning a one-year deal with MSR’s IndyCar team, there could be an obvious opening in 2024.

“Obviously, it’s not in the cards this year,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports the day before the Rolex. “Yeah, I would love to give it a go. To be honest, I think that would be an amazing step for me in my career. I enjoy the sports car stuff so much. It’s been really good to me lately. I really enjoyed the style of racing.

“But I feel like IndyCar would be a step up for me and my career. It would be fantastic if I could get that opportunity. But yeah, I guess I have to keep pushing Mike or something to give me a shot. But obviously for now, the focus is here in the sports car stuff. It’s not really down to me at the end of the day. And I’ve got to do my job and then the people who pay the bills and make the decisions obviously have to decide if that’s something worth pursuing.

“But yeah, I’d love to give it a go, and I definitely would be up for it.”

Tom Blomqvist after winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole on the final qualifying lap (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

A transition from IMSA to IndyCar naturally would be easier than switching teams, but it also would be comfortable because Blomqvist already seems such a good fit at MSR.

It might have seemed an unusual pairing given his European-heavy background, but Blomqvist likes the Midwestern culture that’s been built at MSR. Based just outside Columbus, Ohio, the team’s shop has “no egos, and that just enables each and every one of to reach our potential.

“Obviously, with Honda, we obviously have some great resources, but we’re up against Porsche, BMW and some big heavy hitters in the motorsports world,” he said. “I wouldn’t say we’ve got a huge team compared to them, but we’ve obviously got a very capable team, and I think that’s what has been so impressive and really, really nice to see about the work that’s been done. No stone has been left unturned.”

Blomqvist still is living in Europe and planning to commute for the nine-race GTP schedule (which has a nearly two-month break after the Rolex 24 until the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring). But though he’s “got good friends in America, so I do have places to stay,” he seems open to being based more permanently near MSR in America.

“Let’s see what the future brings, and if that means me spending more time over here,” he said. “It’s a fantastic team. It’s a different environment to what I’m used to. It’s obviously now a hugely successful team, but it is a small team. It does feel like a very small family-operated team, which it is.

“I think Mike’s really just built this thing. It hasn’t happened overnight. Mike’s a great guy and put a lot of trust and faith in me, and I played a relatively good part in some of the success last year. I was able to reward him and give him my all every time I’m on track, and he respects that. But we are still a small team. In the grand scheme of things, we still are a really, really small team.”

Blomqvist said the BMW factory program would have two or three times the staffing of MSR – just on one of its two GTP cars.

“But it’s not the number of people that makes a difference, it’s the quality of people, and obviously Mike and HPD are a fantastic operation to go racing,” Blomqvist said. “We’re racers at heart.

“I’ve been part of some big outfits, and the European way of working is very, very different to how people go about racing in America. I’d say it’s more seat of your pants. A lot of emotion and kind of rides on that competitive spirt, competitive nature and on their personalities. It’s a lot more pure. It feels very pure. You want to win, so we go out and don’t cut corners on trying to win.”

Though it’s aligned with Liberty Media and has big-budget backing and support from Honda Performance Development, MSR also is much less corporate than most GTP teams.

A longtime and respected team owner who has built a sponsor portfolio, Shank also describes his maniacal dedication to success as “messed up,” and he’s known for dropping vulgarities into postrace interview with his blunt and self-deprecating sense of humor.

Meyer Shank Racing co-owner Mike Shank congratulates Tom Blomqvist on the Rolex 24 at Daytona pole position (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).

With a more laid-back but sometimes just as biting demeanor, Blomqvist has become the team’s unquestioned leader behind the wheel

“I definitely feel a lot more immersed,” he said. “Within the team, I was a bit more of an unknown quantity the start of last year. Obviously after last season, the team trusts me a lot. And that gives me a lot of pleasure, pride and confidence. In this sport, confidence is a huge aspect of drivers’ psychology in a way. We’re in extremely high-pressure moments where my job is to perform under the pressure of these organizations and the brand as well.

“It’s just a good, healthy team to be a part of. It’s a high-pressure environment, but the team obviously have put a lot of faith in me, and I’ve been able to deliver for them on occasions.”

Rolex 24 starting lineup
Tom Blomqvist celebrates after winning the pole in the No. 60 Acura ARX-06 (Mike Levitt/LAT/IMSA).