Saturday's motor sports: Newgarden races to 4th win of season

Ken Roberts
Associated Press
Josef Newgarden, center, celebrates his win, while standing next to second-place Scott Dixon, left, of New Zealand, and third-place Simon Pagenaud, of France, after the IndyCar auto race Saturday at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill.

Madison, Ill.— Josef Newgarden passed teammate Simon Pagenaud and drove away to his fourth IndyCar series victory of the season Saturday night at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Newgarden, the 26-year-old Team Penske driver from Tennessee, increased his series points lead over Chip Ganassi driver Scott Dixon with two races remaining in the 17-race schedule.

“It was an awesome race,” Newgarden said. “I’m so proud of Team Penske. They build the best race cars on the planet and so it’s a pleasure to be part of the group and win again.”

Dixon was second, 0.6850 seconds back.

“I guess that’s the best we could have hoped for,” Dixon said. “It’s was definitely going to be a tough race for us, but the car was actually very good. I think we had a better mechanical grip than the group we were racing with, with the Penskes, and especially toward the end of the run.”

Pagenaud was third, followed by Helio Castroneves and Conor Daly.

Newgarden led 170 of the 248 laps on the 1.25-mile oval en route to his seventh career victory and Penske’s fourth at Gateway and 196th overall.

In front of crowd of about 40,000 fans, Newgarden got by Pagenaud coming out of Turn 2 on the inside on Lap 218. The teammates touched wheels, forcing Pagenaud to back off and settle into third place.

“The move, you know, I don’t know what to say,” Pagenaud said. “I don’t have anything nice to say, so I’m not going to say it.”

Newgarden has won three of the last four races, also winning on road and street courses at Toronto and Mid-Ohio during the run. He won the road course in Alabama in April.

“I hope the fans enjoyed it,” Newgarden said. “We had an awesome race. It was a lot about strategy and fuel-saving and then a good battle with Simon at the end.”

Sebastien Bourdais was 10th in his return from a fractured pelvis and right hip sustained in an accident in qualifying for the Indianapolis 500.

The first 17 laps were run under yellow after the caution came out before the cars could make an official lap when Tony Kanaan spun out at the exit of Turn 2.

Then when the green flag finally flew, pole-sitter Will Power immediately dropped to third entering Turn 1 as Newgarden took the lead. But, before Power could make it through Turn 2, he spun, hit the outside wall and Ed Carpenter flew in the air and over the top of Power’s machine.

Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato also spun in the melee. All three were unable to continue.

Hamilton matches Schumacher

Lewis Hamilton equaled Michael Schumacher’s Formula One record of 68 pole positions in style, leading qualifying for the Belgian Grand Prix from start to finish.

The three-time F1 champion was already ahead when he went even faster with a blistering final lap for Mercedes, but Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel limited the damage with a fine lap of his own to join Hamilton on the front row. Valtteri Bottas was third and Kimi Raikonnen fourth.

Hamilton, who races his 200th GP on Sunday and trails Vettel by 14 points overall this season, was quick to praise Schumacher.

“It’s very surreal and very much a humbling experience, knowing Michael’s such a legend,” Hamilton said. “I have always admired him. I am honored to be there with him now on pole positions, but he will still be one of the greatest of all time.”

Hamilton was met on track by Ross Brawn, the F1 managing director of motorsports, who delivered a special message of praise to Hamilton from Schumacher’s family.