Sonoma, California


18 September 2017

SONOMA, California – It couldn’t have been scripted any better for Team Penske. Of course, it turned out just the way Team Penske scripted it.

Simon Pagenaud won the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma to conclude the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, while Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden finished second to wrap up the championship.

As agreed to in the team’s pre-race strategy session, Pagenaud ran a four-stop strategy to perfection in beating Newgarden to the finish line by 1.0986 seconds to win the 85-lap race at Sonoma Raceway. It was the Frenchman’s 11th career victory and second straight on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn permanent road course. A year ago, Pagenaud won from the pole position at Sonoma to sew up his first championship.

Newgarden, the points leader heading into the race and pole sitter, stuck to the more traditional three-stop strategy and was rewarded with the runner-up finish in the race that earned his first season title and the $1 million champion’s prize. Newgarden’s margin of victory in the final standings was 13 points over Pagenaud and 21 over third-place Scott Dixon as the Verizon IndyCar Series crown was decided in the season finale for a 12th straight year.

The championship is the 15th for Team Penske, the most decorated team in Indy car history. Newgarden, in his first season with the team, joins the likes of Tom Sneva, Rick Mears, Al Unser, Danny Sullivan, Al Unser Jr., Gil de Ferran, Sam Hornish Jr., Will Power and Pagenaud drivers to win an Indy car title under the Team Penske banner.

The race ran caution-free for the first time in Sonoma Raceway history, which now spans 14 Indy car events. Newgarden and Pagenaud each led 41 laps on the varying strategies. Meanwhile, their other teammates filled key predesigned roles as well. Will Power played wing man and had Newgarden’s back. Helio Castroneves hounded Dixon – the only non-Penske driver in serious title contention – to make sure the Chip Ganassi Racing driver couldn’t make a run at the race win and championship.

Power finished the race in third to give Team Penske a podium sweep. Dixon did get past Castroneves late for fourth place, which settled the four-time champion into third place in the final 2017 standings.

The decisive race moment came when Pagenaud made his final stop from the lead for fuel and tires on Lap 64 in the No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet. He returned to the track just ahead of the charging Newgarden and held on to first place as the teammates battled around the track. From there, Pagenaud kept Newgarden in his mirrors to the finish.

Pagenaud completed all 2,331 laps this season, becoming just the second driver to finish every lap in an Indy car season. Tony Kanaan was the first, completing all 3,305 laps when he won the 2004 championship.

Castroneves wrapped up fourth in the standings by finishing fifth in the race in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. Completing his 20th year racing Indy cars, the 42-year-old Brazilian is still in search of his first series championship.

Power, the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, earned fifth place in this year’s standings, with Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sixth. Andretti Autosport secured the next three positions in the championship, with Alexander Rossi seventh, Takuma Sato eighth and Ryan Hunter-Reay ninth.

The race also marked the conclusion of the competitive aero kit era that began in 2015 between Chevrolet and Honda. INDYCAR has developed a universal aero kit to be used by all teams in 2018.

by Mark Robinson indycar.com



Gateway Motorsports Park


29 August 2017

MADISON, Illinois (Saturday, Aug. 26, 2017) – Josef Newgarden’s latest bold move led the Team Penske driver to win in the Verizon IndyCar Series’ thrilling return to Gateway Motorsports Park and extend his championship lead.

Newgarden completed a daring pass of teammate Simon Pagenaud on the 218th of 248 laps on the 1.25-mile oval and he went on to win the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline by 0.6850 of a second over Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon. The triumph – Newgarden’s third win in the past four races and his fourth victory this season – allowed the 26-year-old Tennessean to push his points lead to 31 over Dixon with two races remaining.

The race marked the Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to the St. Louis region for the first time in 14 years. A packed main grandstand roared when Newgarden, in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet, slipped inside of Pagenaud, driving the No. 1 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet, heading into Turn 1. The cars touched mid-corner, forcing Pagenaud to slow as he moved up the track.

Pagenaud’s loss of momentum on the decisive pass opened the door for Dixon, in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda, to get past for second place. Pagenaud, the reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion, was understandably upset after finishing in third place.

Newgarden led 170 laps in collecting his seventh career win, delivering Team Penske its fifth straight victory and ninth this season. It was also the 196th Indy car win for the renowned team.

Dixon felt fortunate to finish second, considering he started seventh and Team Penske had secured the first four spots in qualifying.

Helio Castroneves gave Team Penske three of the top four finishers when he placed fourth in the No. 3 Shell Fuel Rewards Team Penske Chevrolet. Castroneves led 52 laps to become the fourth driver in Indy car history to surpass 6,000 laps led in a career.

Conor Daly finished fifth in the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet, the AJ Foyt Racing driver’s best finish in his first season with the team and his best showing since placing fourth last year at Watkins Glen.

The start of the race was slowed by a pair of incidents. Tony Kanaan of Chip Ganassi Racing spun in Turn 2 on the pace lap and backed his No. 10 NTT Data Honda into the SAFER Barrier. Kanaan went three laps down while the car was repaired and eventually finished 16th.

When the green flag did wave, pole sitter Will Power spun in nearly the same place as Kanaan and hit the wall in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet on Lap 6. The cars of Ed Carpenter and Takuma Sato touched as they slowed to avoid Power, sending both into the wall as well. None of the drivers was injured but their races were over before the night had barely begun.

The Verizon IndyCar Series standings show Newgarden in the lead with 547 points, Dixon second with 516, Castroneves third at 505, Pagenaud fourth at 504 and Power fifth with 464. Graham Rahal (436 points), Alexander Rossi (422) and Sato (410) remain mathematically alive for the championship as well.

By finishing 13th tonight, Dale Coyne Racing’s Ed Jones clinched Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors for the season.

The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action with the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen, from the road course at Watkins Glen International in upstate New York. The season finale, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 17 at Sonoma Raceway in California, is worth double the normal race points.

by Mark Robinson Indycar.com



Pocono Raceway


21 August 2017

LONG POND, Pennsylvania – Will Power kept telling himself to not give up. They wound up being winning words.

Power overcame numerous obstacles to get to the front today in the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, then held off charging Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden to win the Verizon IndyCar Series race for a second straight year.

Power defeated Newgarden by 0.5268 of a second to become the first Indy car driver to post back-to-back wins on the three-turn, 2.5-mile oval in the event’s 24-race history. It was also Power’s third triumph this season and the 32nd of his 13-year career, moving the 36-year-old Australian into sole possession of ninth place on the all-time Indy car victory list ahead of Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy.

The results also kept the battle for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series championship tight with three races remaining. Newgarden leads Scott Dixon by 18 points, Helio Castroneves by 22, Simon Pagenaud by 26 and Power by 42. The top 15 drivers in the standings remain mathematically alive for the title.

Starting the 200-lap race from fifth, Power made an unscheduled green-flag pit stop on Lap 66 to replace a front wing assembly on his No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and went a lap down. He later had a damaged rear wing assembly replaced during a caution period. Still, Power persevered, was back on the lead lap with 75 to go and worked his way through the field.

A lightning-quick pit stop on Lap 177 put Power ahead of the other front-runners who had stopped before him. When race leader Marco Andretti, who was off pit sequence, stopped for fuel on Lap 190, Power assumed first place and withstood pressure from Newgarden and Alexander Rossi over the final 10 laps.

Newgarden took consolation that his points lead expanded slightly with the second-place finish.

Rossi led 44 laps and finished third in the No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda to earn his second podium finish in the past three races.

Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Pagenaud was fourth in the No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet, with Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Tony Kanaan and Dixon (who led a race-high 51 laps) finishing fifth and sixth, respectively.

Hunter-Reay, who sustained left hip and knee injuries in a qualifying crash Saturday, charged from the 21st starting position to lead 12 laps before finishing eighth in the No. 28 DHL Honda for Andretti Autosport.

The thrilling race featured 42 lead changes – a Pocono race record – among 10 drivers. At one point, Kanaan and Graham Rahal swapped the lead for 12 consecutive laps. The race was slowed by three cautions, including one when James Hinchcliffe and JR Hildebrand collided in Turn 1 on Lap 125. Neither driver was injured.

The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action on Saturday, Aug. 26 at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois. It marks the return of Indy car racing to the St. Louis region for the first time since 2003.

By Mark Robinson www.indycar.com



Mid-Ohio


31 July 2017

Josef Newgarden became the second driver to win back-to-back Verizon IndyCar Series races in 2017, dominating today’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.

The Team Penske driver led 73 of the 90 laps on the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, taking the checkered flag 5.1556 seconds ahead of teammate Will Power. It follows Newgarden’s win July 16 in the Honda Indy Toronto and pushes the 26-year-old Tennessean into the unofficial championship lead after 13 of 17 races.

Takuma SatoDriving the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet, Newgarden started second and made a daring pass of pole sitter Power for the race lead on Lap 13. He was never headed again in collecting his third win of the season and sixth of his six-year Verizon IndyCar Series career.

Local favorite Graham Rahal finished third in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Rahal was the other driver to win consecutive races this season, sweeping both ends of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear doubleheader weekend.

Newgarden moved into the unofficial points lead for the first time this season. He holds a seven-point advantage over teammate Helio Castroneves, who finished seventh today, and is eight markers ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, who entered the race with the points lead but surrendered it with his ninth-place finish today.

The race ran caution-free until Dale Coyne Racing rookie Ed Jones spun into the grass in Turn 9 on Lap 67, bringing out the yellow flag after Newgarden had built a 10-second advantage. Using the lapped car of Esteban Gutierrez on the Lap 71 restart, Newgarden quickly sped away and wasn’t challenged.

The next race on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 20.

by Mark Robinson www.Indycar.com



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