Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at World Wide Technology Raceway was the fifteenth round in the NTT IndyCar Series.
It was a bit of a mouthful for the race that covers over 500 miles on the track near St. Louis, Missouri, which a lot of people know as Gateway. And there were fights all the way until the chequered flag, at the last oval race of the year for the series.
Championship leader Josef Newgarden had taken Pole Position for the second week in a row. Sebastien Bourdais was second, ahead of last weekend’s winner, Will Power. Simon Pagenaud completed the three Team Penske cars in top four, followed by Takuma Sato, Santino Ferrucci, James Hinchcliffe and Scott Dixon.
You’d have to look all the way down in P11 to find the second place in the championship, Alexander Rossi, who would have a hard night ahead of him. It got more dramatic when Rossi had to get his gearbox repaired on the grid, right before the race started. But the mechanics managed to do it.
The lights were already on as the twenty-two cars rolled on the track, even though the sun hadn’t completely set.
Something almost happened on the first lap, when Hinchcliffe, Sato and Hunter-Reay were only millimetres away from a collision, for the second week in a row. Luckily all the cars remained on the track.
Marcus Ericsson had a solo spin in Turn 3, which deployed the Safety Car, but fortunately, he wasn’t hit by anyone.
Charlie Kimball and Ericsson used the chance to pit and get new fresh tires.
Tony Kanaan had won six positions already on the first lap, with a clever driving.
Newgarden was still leading when the race got restarted, but Will Power was now in the second place, while Ferrucci drove past his teammate Bourdais and was up to third.
55 laps into the race there was a yellow flag when Will Power hit the wall in Turn 4. The Australian simply went too wide and ended up in the wall.
It was while the majority of the field had been pitted or would have to shortly afterwards.
Hinchcliffe and Ferrucci were super lucky as they came out on the track in front of Newgarden, and thus were the new first and second places.
Dixon had some drama as he had to pit with a leak, and the car got pushed back into the truck to get repaired. It was later revealed that the cooling system was the culprit. Thus he was pretty much out of the championship battle.
The restart of the race was action-packed, where Rossi tried to win a position on Paggenaud, while the latter tried to defend himself on Rossi.
Ferrucci took the lead after one-third of the race and quickly built up a gap to the ones behind him.
120 into the race there was another yellow flag when Marcus Ericsson brushed the wall as he was on the dirty part of the track, but the car didn’t have any damage.
It was a short yellow and the car quickly went back to full speed – in a few laps before Spencer Pigot ended up in the wall, after some contact with Charlie Kimball. The caution took longer this time because they had to remove Pigot’s car. The stewards looked into it, but they decided no further action.
With about 100 laps left, the green flag was waved.
Conor Daly was aggressive at the restart, and he was up to sixth place after some exciting overtakes.
There was a bit of an episode between Rossi and Hinchcliffe, where the American got past the Canadian with a bit of a hard overtake. The stewards, however, chose not to do anything about it.
Pagenaud attempted to drive past Hinchcliffe a few laps later, but he was on the dirty part of the track and was about to hit the wall. He managed to save the car but lost positions to Herta and Rosenqvist.
The Dale Coyne Racing team made a mistake during Ferrucci’s pitstop, where they had some problems with putting the fuel hose in place, and later they also fumbled with the tire change.
Two laps later there was a problem for Ferrucci’s Dale Coyne teammate Bourdais, who brushed the wall in Turn 4 and broke his rear suspension. It was the end of the Frenchman’s day, who had a chance to win the race earlier when he came out ahead of Ferrucci.
The mechanics had repaired Dixon’s car and he was back on the track, but since there was no chance to win any position, the team chose to pull the car from the race with 48 laps left.
Because they hadn’t pitted before the yellow flag, Sato, Kanaan, Carpenter and Newgarden were one lap ahead of everyone else. Thus they could do their pitstop and still came out in front of the field again, now on the same lap. Rossi was P5 on old tires, and he would run out of fuel sooner than later.
There were plenty of battles throughout the field when the race got restarted, with a mixture of new and old tires, and some drivers more aggressive than others, like Daly and Ferrucci amongst others.
Ferrucci went past Rossi and could begin to chase the top four. Newgarden in P4 drove very defensively, and he was close to sending Ferrucci to the wall, but luckily the latter could catch it.
Sato had built up a huge gap at the front, and Kanaan was leading a train in P2, with Carpenter, Newgarden and Ferrucci behind him without any of them could do any overtaking attempt.
Rossi had to pit with 19 laps left since he didn’t have enough fuel to finish the race.
Ferrucci finally drove past Newgarden with fourteen laps left of the race, and now he set his sight on Carpenter. The young driver got more and more frustrated behind Carpenter. He was about to hit the wall again, and worse, lost a place to Newgarden.
Sato had a bit of a problem overlapping Hinchcliffe, but when he finally got past, he could pull away again from Kanaan and Carpenter, who were getting too close.
Four laps before the finish, Carpenter overtook Kanaan and quickly went after Sato. One lap later, Ferrucci drove past Newgarden again.
Takuma Sato won the race with just 0,0399 of a second ahead of Ed Carpenter, who could have overtaken the Japanese if he had one more lap. Tony Kanaan held on to his third place, followed by Santino Ferrucci in fourth.
Josef Newgarden was about to finish in fifth place, but he tried to dive on Ferrucci in the last corner, which sent him out to a spin, but luckily without hitting the wall. He managed to roll his car over the finish line in P7. Simon Pagenaud took the fifth place, ahead of Conor Daly from Carlin.
This victory was Sato’s fifth in Indycar, and the second one this season after the one at Barber Motorsports Park in April.
Newgarden extended his lead in the championship, where Simon Pagenaud went up to the second place, 38 points behind Newgarden. Rossi fell back to P3, ahead of Dixon in P4. All four drivers still have a mathematical chance to win the championship, but nothing will be decided yet when the penultimate race of the season visits Portland International Raceway next weekend.