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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Eli Tomac’s near-perfect season ended perfectly

ProMotocross.com
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From the start, Eli Tomac wanted to go into the season-ending race at Ironman Raceway with the 2020 red plate already in his possession. That final race has been know to devolve into muddy conditions and it is best not to leave things to chance.

For a rider with an almost perfect record of overall podium finishes, one would not have thought there would be much drama at the end of Round 11 at Budds Creek, but it took until the last lap of the final moto for Tomac to achieve his goal.

One reason was that Tomac’s near-perfect season was not so perfect. From the very beginning at Hangtown, Tomac struggled with poor starts to his events. Getting a bad jump out of the gate and finishing fourth in Moto 1 that weekend was not the auspicious beginning he wanted in search of his third consecutive 450 outdoor championship.

The hallmark of Tomac’s season has been overcoming bad starts. He rode through the field at Hangtown and nearly stood on the podium. Then he won Moto 2 and finished second overall. It was his first of nine consecutive overall podiums. Tomac came back the following week for a perfect sweep at Pala.

In Round 3, Tomac once again got off to a bad start. He finished fifth in Moto 1 at Thunder Valley – and then won Moto 2 in a duplication of his opening round.

In Round 5, Tomac had his worst performance until that time. He finished seventh in Moto 1. Nearly halfway through the season, a pattern was firmly established with his Moto 2 win.

Vanessa O’Brien, Kawasaki USA

One should recall that the hallmark of Tomac’s season was strong finishes. Four the next four weeks Tomac failed to podium only one time in a moto. On that occasion, he would stumble in Moto 2 at Spring Creek in Round 8 before scoring his second perfect race at Washougal.

And that is where it got interesting. Tomac left Washougal with a 50-point advantage over Marvin Musquin. It was just the scenario Tomac had seesawed his way through the season to achieve. But it was too good to be true.

In most of his previous bad performances, there was an extenuating circumstance for Tomac’s bad start: a fall or an off course excursion. This time, he simply rode an uninspired race and finished seventh again to match his worst single moto performance. He could not fully rebound in Moto 2 and finished third.

For the first time in 2019, Tomac failed to stand on the overall podium in fourth. Worse still, he lost 10 points to Musquin and no longer had his one-race cushion.

But this is a season of recovery for Tomac. At Budds Creek last week it was reported that Tomac’s lackluster performance in Washington was due to his overdoing his chores on his Colorado ranch. Rested and restored, Tomac scored his third perfect race with Moto 1 & 2 wins. And this time, he looked sharper than he had in any previous race.

Tomac did all the could do by winning both motos, but in the closing laps at Budds Creek he needed a little help to clinch the title. As it turned out, Tomac needed the perfect performance to clinch his third consecutive championship.

In Moto 1, he narrowly edged Ken Roczen and Musquin, to give the three championship contenders a sweep of the top three spots; that was not enough to regain his cushion.

Roczen was close enough to force Tomac into The Ironman needing to score points to permanently affix the red plate on his Kawasaki in 2020, but just as Tomac’s season has been marked by second half improvements, Roczen’s has been marred by a lack of performance in the second motos.

Musquin passed Roczen late in Moto 2 last week and could have extended the drama one more week if he could have caught second-place Jason Anderson. Musquin could not erase an 11-second deficit to the runner-up and now Tomac’s almost perfect season has a distinctly perfect feel to it.

Vanessa O’Brien, Kawasaki USA

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