Simon Pagenaud wins wild IndyCar Grand Prix at IMS

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Simon Pagenaud won Saturday’s running of the IndyCar Grand Prix after a wet and wild afternoon that saw top championship contenders Josef Newgarden and Alexander Rossi experience misfortune.

The Team Penske driver collected his first series win since Sonoma in 2017, passing race leader Scott Dixon with two laps to go. Pagenaud’s victory was his third on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, having previously won the inaugural event in 2014 for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, as well as the 2016 running for Penske.

Penske has now won five consecutive races on the 2.439-mile road course; with Pagenaud’s teammate Will Power winning in 2015, ’17 and ’18.

“It was amazing, the whole race,” Pagenaud told NBC Sports following his 12th career IndyCar victory. “Third time, so I’m equal with Will. That’s awesome! We kept it in the Penske family. I can’t believe it. It’s awesome. What a race.”

With his winless streak finally over at 21 races, Pagenaud has proven that he still has what it takes to win in the NTT IndyCar Series – something that some fans may have doubted, but Pagenaud himself never did.

“I know what I’m worth,” Pagenaud said. “I have to get everything right, and we did that this weekend. Slowly and surely, we got there. The stars just didn’t align before, but the performance has always been there this year. The team has been fantastic at giving me what I need, so here we are.”

Dixon held on to finish second for the third time this year, and for the third year in a row at the IndyCar GP. Despite another runner-up, the defending series champion tried to focus on the positives following the race.

“All in all, [it was] a solid effort,” Dixon said. “It sucks to obviously lead that many laps and then come up short but again, congrats to Simon. He drove a hell of a race, and it’s nice to see him back in Victory Lane.”

Jack Harvey, who qualified third and ran up front all day, finished where he started for his first career podium.

“I believed in this team since the Indy 500 in 2017, and I knew this weekend could happen eventually and everyone at Meyer Shank Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports just worked so hard to give us that,” Harvey said.

“It wasn’t an easy race being half dry, half wet, but we put on a great show for everybody. You can see how happy these guys were just getting a podium. Can you imagine how happy we’re going to be when we finally get a win?”

Both series points leader Josef Newgarden, who started 13th, and second-ranked Alexander Rossi, who started 17th, needed some good luck to get through the 85-lap event.

Neither driver’s wishes would be granted. Newgarden finished a disappointing 15th, and Rossi fared even worse, finishing four laps down in 22nd.

Rossi’s race effectively ended as soon as it began, when Patricio O’Ward ran into the back of Rossi’s No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda at the start of the race. Rossi then clipped the inside wall on the frontstretch, and was forced to pit before completing his first full lap.

O’Ward earned a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact, but Rossi had to soldier on well out of contention for the victory.

Newgarden, whose race looked promising after leading 20 laps via pit strategy, saw all of his luck quickly evaporate when a tire from his pit box rolled onto pit road during a disastrous stop under caution on Lap 60.

Race control assessed a penalty to Newgarden, and he had to restart the race from the tail end of the field.

Rossi and Newgarden weren’t the only drivers to experience misfortune during Saturday’s race. The wet conditions saw several drivers go off track, including veterans Takuma Sato and Helio Castroneves, the latter bringing out the aforementioned caution for spinning in turn 1 after exiting the pits.

The first yellow flew on Lap 11 when Marcus Ericsson spun in Turn 14. Ericsson’s No. 7 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Honda slid across the grass separating the interior road course from the oval before making contact with the SAFER barrier. Ericsson walked away from the incident unscathed but out of the race.

Once the green flag came back out on Lap 16, Scott Dixon made a phenomenal move, passing Jack Harvey and Rosenqvist to take the lead in Turn 1 after Rosenqvist locked up entering the corner.

Moments later, the yellow flag came out again, as Harvey made contact with Colton Herta, causing the Harding Steinbrenner Racing driver to spin.

James Hinchcliffe then made contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay, who spun and hit Herta’s car as well.

Hinchcliffe was assessed a drive-through penalty, and Herta logged another disappointing DNF – continuing his streak of misfortune since winning the inaugural IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas earlier this season.

Josef Newgarden left the race still atop the series standings with 182 points. Scott Dixon moved up to second in the standings (-6) with his podium finish, pushing Alexander Rossi down to third (-36).

The NTT IndyCar Series now gears up for the biggest race of the year, the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500, which will air live on NBC, Sunday, May 26.

Click here for full race results

Click here for the points standings.

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Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.