Strategy decided the night race at Gateway

Verizon IndyCar Series arrived at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis in Illinois for the 15th round in the calendar.

The qualifying on Saturday was cancelled due to rain, so the starting grid would follow the positions in the championship. Thus Scott Dixon would start from Pole Position ahead of Alexander Rossi, Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Simon Pagenaud.

James Hinchcliffe, who should start from P8 couldn’t make it to the warm-up lap, since his mechanics had problems disconnecting the laptop’s data cable from the car. He managed to come out just before the start of the second lap, which meant he was allowed to keep his starting position.

21 cars started when the lights went off, where Power was the one gaining the most advantage. He jumped from fourth to second, while Rossi lost two places.

However, the field only drove through two corners before another yellow flag, following the incident with Sebastien Bourdais hitting the wall. He lost the rear end in the middle of the field and couldn’t save it before the car crashed the wall. He retired on the spot.

Bommarito Automotive 500 start
Photo: / Chris Jones

The race got restarted seven laps later, where Rossi attacked Newgarden right away, who had to defend with all his might down the straights.

It took 48 laps before Rossi could overtake Newgarden, but other than that there were no other changes in top 5 until the cars started to pit around lap 60. Pagenaud and Hunter-Reay swapped positions, but the rest of the drivers in front remained the same.

The race became really stationary when all the teams tried to save fuel, in order to go through the race with only three pitstops.

119 laps into the race, something happened at the front when Power attempted to overtake Dixon from the outside. But Power had to pull back and almost hit the wall in Turn 2, and to make matters worse he lost a place to both Rossi and his teammate Newgarden.

Both Newgarden and Power ended up being the biggest losers in the second pitstop round, where Dixon continued to lead ahead of Rossi, while Pagenaud climbed up to third, in front of Power, Hunter-Reay, and Newgarden.

Takuma Sato dived on James Hinchcliffe in the battle for 13th position. It sent Hinch out on the same place as Power earlier but he also avoided hitting the wall.

James Hinchcliffe
Photo: / Chris Jones

Power drove past Pagenaud in the battle for P3, where the latter lost six places.

It seemed that Power was into an aggressive lap, where he also dived past Rossi from the inside, who was only centimetres away from crashing the car into the wall. Luckily, he could keep the control of the car. And even though he lost two positions, he could still continue the race,

Power took the lead after 150 laps out of 248, when he drove past Dixon from the inside in Turn 1. Dixon tried to save fuel, while Power was on full gas. It also meant that Dixon was now under pressure from Hunter-Reay.

Charlie Kimball brushed the wall in Turn 4, but he could return to the pits and the race could continue under green flag.

Hunter-Reay got technical problems after 173 laps, where the engine just died. The slow car on the track gave the second yellow flag of the day. He got pulled back to the pits where the mechanics could restart the car, but the engine wasn’t clean. It cost him an almost certain top five position, if not top 3. And the worst of all was probably missing so many points that he was out of the championship contention.

The timing of the yellow flag made it almost necessary for everyone to pit for the fourth time.

After the third pitstop round, Will Power was leading ahead of Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi, Zach Veach, and Josef Newgarden.

Pietro Fittipaldi
Photo: / Matt Fraver

Ed Jones was on a progress and drove himself up in top 4, with a late dive on Veach in Turn 1. Two laps later he also came past Rossi and thus was just behind his teammate Dixon.

2016 Indy 500 winner Rossi fell back to fifth place, when Veach overtook him for fourth. A few laps after, Pagenaud followed suit.

Twenty laps before chequered flag, the cars did their last stop.

Rossi had saved so much fuel that he lost two laps to Power, with only ten laps left. Power should however pit again, so anything was still possible. Dixon went to the pits with ten laps to go.

Power managed to come out in the lead after his pitstop, with one and a half seconds gap to Rossi, who had pretty much the same distance to Dixon on P3.

Will Power & Alexander Rossi
Photo: / Chris Owens

Will Power won the race with two seconds advantage ahead of Alexander Rossi and Scott Dixon. Simon Pagenaud and Zach Veach completed the top 5.

This result brought the top three in Verizon IndyCar Series even closer to each other. Scott Dixon kept his lead in the championship, in front of Alexander Rossi, and Will Power. Josef Newgarden was the last person on P4 who still had a mathematical chance to win.

They will drive again already next weekend, in the Grand Prix of Portland, that returned to the calendar after 14 years of absence.

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