Josef Newgarden held off a late charge from Scott Dixon to win the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 Presented by Valvoline on Saturday at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Qualifying second behind fellow Team Penske member Will Power, Newgarden took the lead less than 10 laps into the race. Falling behind Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud briefly during the 248-lap main event, Newgarden took the lead for the last time with 30 laps remaining, then outran the field to the finish as he recorded his fourth series win of the season and seventh of his career.
A native of Nashville, Tenn., the 26-year-old Newgarden averaged 139.465 mph and led for 170 of the 248 laps.
Dixon, a four-time series champion was second (139.453 mph), while Pagenaud was third and Castroneves was fourth. Newgarden, Pagenaud and Castroneves are all members of Team Penske which finished dominated the field with three drivers in the top four.
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The fourth member of Team Penske, Will Power, who earned the pole position with the top qualifying time, was involved in a wreck with Ed Carpenter on lap six and was forced out of the race.
Castroneves, who won the last Indy Car race at Gateway in 2003, prior to Saturday, led for 52 laps. Castroneves also became just the fourth driver in history to lead 6,000 or more laps in his career.
Back at Gateway
After 14 years, IndyCar racing returned to Gateway on Saturday.
Twenty-one of the top drivers in the world were on hand to compete — for the first time since Aug. 10, 2003 — on the 1.25-mile oval before an expected crowd of 30,000 race fans. It was a night Gateway owner and CEO Curtis Francois envisioned when he purchased the track in 2011.
The race went off on time and without a hitch.
“It’s been a long time in coming back, but this is the night we’ve all been waiting for. It’s a great night for Gateway Motorsports Park, it’s a great night for racing fans in Illinois and the St. Louis area and it’s a great night for racing in the Midwest,” Francois said minutes before race time. “We’re just so glad to bring back open wheel racing back to Gateway.”
East St. Louis native and three-time Olympic champion Jackie Joyner-Kersee was the grand marshal Saturday, dropping the green flag to start the race.
Santi Urrutia led for just 28 laps but crossed the finish line first, nipping Juan Piedrahia to win the Mazda St. Louis Indy Lights Oval Challenge.
Rookie Colton Herta was third, while series points leader Kyle Kaiser moved closer to the championship by placing fourth. Urrutia averaged 121.399 mph. in the 75-lap final.
Team Penske dominant in qualifying
Power, a 36-year-old IndyCar series veteran from Queensland, Australia, was on the pole Saturday after posting the top qualifying time of 189.642 mph Friday. The top spot was the 50th of Power’s career, tied for third-most all time.
Power’s performance continues the domination of Team Penske, which grabbed the top four spots. Teammate Josef Newgarden started with a qualifying speed of 188.316, while Helio Castroneves, who won in Madison in 2003, and Simon Pagenaud were right behind to start the race.
Power said having four teammates helps everyone know the track.
“I think it helps having four cars because when your teammates are running this amount of downforce for qualifying, you’re like, all right, if I want to contend for the pole, I have to do that, too,” Power said. “We all push each other, trim out a lot. So yeah, it’s — I think Chevy has a very good package around here, as we’ve seen on the short ovals, so that creates a gap.”