Power Wins, Rossi Does What He Needs to Do
Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park Recap
With the thoughts and prayers of the Indycar paddock and fans all over the world solely fixed on a hospital room in upstate New York, the Verizon Indycar series did what it had to Saturday night and get back to the track.
The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 was, without question, the sleeper hit of the 2017 season, capped off by Josef Newgarden's gutsy pass down the inside of Simon Pagenaud to win the race and, indeed the championship.
While there are still two races left until we decide who will take the top honor in 2018, both Will Power and Alexander Rossi staked their case as to just why they deserve the 2018 season crown.
In the case of Power, the winner of Saturday nights 500-mile short track race, he showed the racing world once again why he is still one of the best. Having suffered a bit of a mid season slump following his dual victories at both the Indy Road Course and the Indianapolis 500 itself, Power was back in top form Saturday night successfully executing a splash and dash 4th pitstop that gave him the competitive advantage to take the lead and the win.
Will Power, congradulated by his team owner, the legendary Roger Penske. Photo Credit: Chris Owens/Indycar
The win puts Power only 60 points back on points leader Scott Dixon. Although 60 points may seem astronomical, thanks large in part to the double points finale at Sonoma, it is not unassailable.
"Yes, we can absolutely do it," said Power. "It's mathematically possible. When I turned up to Indy in May, it was a single points race (May 12) and a double points race (May 27). I was about this amount of points behind, and I came out two points ahead with two wins. So yes, absolutely."
The other major underdog for the championship, Alexander Rossi, may not have stood on the top step of the podium Saturday night, but by placing his car in front of Scott Dixon's by the time the twin checkards flew, Rossi was able to shrink his gap to the sublime Dixon to just 26 points.
“Our goal is to beat Scott every race," said the 26 year old American, Rossi. "If I can be within 20 going into Sonoma, I’ll have a shot.”
With Rossi recent form, that 20 point gap certainly looks attainable.
Aside from the result, Rossi may have also made the highlight of the year, Saturday night, as running side by side with eventually winner, Power, Rossi lost control of the car exiting turn 2. The car started to slide sideways towards the wall. But Rossi, in full opposite lock, managed to save the car, keep it off the wall and keep his season alive.
Rossi, by some miracle, keeping his car off the wall. Photo Credit: NBC Sports
“I said a lot of bad words,” he said of the slide. “It was one of those ones, I’d pretty given up and it came back by the grace of God. I was on the brakes and didn’t hit wall. It was a pretty pretty big blessing.”
The other potential championship contender, Josef Newgarden, had a race to forget, finish down in 7th, as sees his chances of winning back to back Verizon Indycar Championships slowly diminish.
“Tough night. We kept in it, we tried to make the most of it," said Newgarden. "We just lost too many positions there at the end. The whole race long, we just didn’t get the timing right. We got caught out in a couple of different times."
Elsewhere in the race, both Spencer Pigot and Zach Veach put in particularly respectable drives, coming home 6th and 5th respectively. Both young drivers have seen their stock rise of late as they have been growing more and more acclimatized to the 2018 Dallara built Indycar.
“I really wish we could go back to St. Petersburg right now and start this season over," said Veach. "I’ve got to give credit to my Group 1001 guys and, of course, my Andretti Autosport teammates. Those guys have helped me so much this year, just teaching me little by little. It’s finally starting to come together and I’m just so thankful for that.”
Veach during practice on Saturday. Photo Credit: Shawn Gritzmacher/Indycar Media
Indycar returns next Sunday, September 2nd for the Grand Prix of Portland.