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

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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.

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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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Lessons learned in three rounds of Extreme E pay huge dividends in the Copper X Prix for Tanner Foust

Foust Copper X Prix
McLaren Racing
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To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, unique trip it’s been for Tanner Foust in his first season with the Extreme E series as he took his early season lessons to Chile to compete in the Copper X Prix. And he’s learned his lessons well.

In February, McLaren announced they would expand their motorsports program with an Extreme E entry. They signed two talented rally drivers in Foust and Emma Gilmour – and paired them for the opening round in Neom, Saudi Arabia with just a few days of testing under their belts. Baked by the Arabian desert sun, it was trial by fire.

The duo performed well in their debut, advancing into the final round and finishing fifth. As Extreme E headed to another desert halfway across the globe for Round 4, it was a good time to catch up with Foust and ask about McLaren’s progress. The Copper X Prix was held this past weekend in one of the most extreme regions in the world: the Atacama Desert.

MORE: McLaren considering Kyle Busch for Indy 500

“The shock going into the first race was the speed,” Foust told NBC Sports. “It was much higher than we had tested. We spent a lot of time around 100 miles per hour [in race trim] and our testing speeds were more in the 60 to 70-mile range. Then, once we sort of got around that, the car got updated so you can drive it even faster.”

In rally racing, some incidents are out of a driver’s control. Even peeking around another car can be dangerous because of potholes that have recently been gouged in the ground or large bushes that seem to sprout up between laps. A couple of rollovers brought Foust back to earth – but the pace was there and that was important.

“We had some challenges this season,” Foust said prior to the Copper X Prix. “We had a good start; made the final, which is a difficult thing to do in this series. I had two rolls in the first three events, but I have improved each time. Now we come into Round 4 in Chile in a pretty strong position. We have competitive times as a team. We are communicating really well and have our heads around this Odyssey vehicle.”

Foust’s words proved to be prophetic.

He won the Crazy Race – Extreme E’s version of a Last Chance Qualifier – and did so after passing the field. It was the same manner in which he qualified for Saudi Arabia’s finale, but this time things would be better. There were those hard-earned lessons on which to lean – and Foust had reps under his belt. He was not going to be caught off guard by any random obstacles.

Tanner Foust passed Sebastien Loeb heading to the Switch Zone in the Copper X Prix. (Photo by Sam Bagnall / LAT Images)

In the Copper X Prix finale, he pressured one of the best rally drivers in the history of the sport.

Pitching sideways through a tight left-hander late in his stint, Foust put his McLaren Extreme E Odyssey at the head of the pack in front of Sebastien Loeb as they headed to the Switch Zone. There, he would turn the car over to his co-driver Gilmour.

The Extreme E series pairs male and female drivers with both taking a turn behind the wheel.

After the driver change, Gilmour lost the lead momentarily to Loeb’s teammate Cristina Gutierrez, but as they charged toward the finish line, she surged ahead and crossed under the checkers first.

“What an improvement for the team over this year,” Foust said after the race. “We have struggled through some of the events, being in our first year in competition. We showed true pace this weekend; overtaking Sebastien Loeb was a highlight.

“Emma put in a great run in the Final. I was fortunate to go from last to first in the Crazy Race and then first in the Final but with some flag penalties, we had 20 seconds added to our time, which put us into fifth. It was a great feeling crossing the line first, I love this wide style track and the NEOM McLaren Odyssey was fantastic here.

“Hopefully we can continue that momentum into Uruguay.”

Loeb and Gutierrez were elevated to the top of the podium, but no one can take away the feeling of crossing under the checkers first.


Racing Responsibly

Since cars were first invented, racing has played a socially responsible role by improving safety. As Earth reaches a tipping point with climate change, racing needs to adapt to these new needs and requirements, which is where Extreme E’s unique strategy becomes increasingly important.

The Extreme E experience is more than simple racing. Each race is accompanied by a legacy program designed to offset damage done by climate change and to erase the footprint caused by the events.

Foust, a biology major from the University of Colorado, was given the chance to rekindle his interest and give back to the environment ahead of the Copper X Prix.

The Atacama is the oldest desert in the world at 150 million years. It is the driest place on earth and has the highest degree of ultraviolet light. And yet somehow life perseveres through underground rivers with oases dating back to Incan times. Foust participated in preparing a local habitat for the reintroduction of a critically endangered water frog to Chile’s longest river, the Loa, which snakes its way through the desert.

“I’m loving the experience,” Foust said. “I’m putting on a lot of Chapstick, a lot of sunscreen. What a fascinating part of the world. I never would have come here otherwise.

“I honestly am very honored to be a part of this sport. I am a huge believer in the fact that motorsports has done us good in the last 100 years. I think we benefit every single time we put our seatbelts on and drive down the road to the lessons learned in racing since the turn of the century. And I really hope motorsports continues that tradition.

“I think that motorsports like [Extreme E] does it in a responsible way, a gender-neutral way and a carbon-neutral way.”