MADISON, Ill. — Josef Newgarden bumped past Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud and drove away to his fourth IndyCar series victory of the season Saturday night at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Pagenaud was in front heading into Turn 1 on the 218th lap, but left a lane open for Newgarden, who got his nose under Pagenaud as they exited Turn 2. When Pagenaud didn’t give, Newgarden forced the issue and bumped Pagenaud, forcing the 33-year-old Frenchman to back off — dropping him to third.
“One thing I didn’t want to do was touch him too hard,” Newgarden said. “I think if I would have stayed too far left, I would have jumped the curb and that would have taken both of us out. I tried to get Simon to move over a little when we were coming to the opening of the corner.
“We both had to slow up. Fortunately, worked out well for us. Pagenaud didn’t get up into the wall or anything like that, so I would say it worked out OK for him, too.”
Pagenaud ended up finishing third behind Chip Ganassi driver Scott Dixon.
“I think if it wasn’t me, he would be in the fence with somebody else,” Pagenaud said. “He doesn’t have respect for me. I’ve never seen Scott do that to his teammates in his career, whole career. …. At the moment it’s not something I really want to talk about with him. But it will come to a conclusion, I’m sure.”
Newgarden was asked about Pagenaud’s respect comment.
“He knows we’re racing,” Newgarden said. “He knows we’re going to race in the future. We’re going to race for many years. This isn’t the first time we’ll battle, I’m sure. Hopefully, he knows next time it’s getting a little tight in the corner, give me a little more room.”
The 26-year-old Tennessee driver increased his series points lead over Dixon to 31 with two races remaining in the 17-race schedule. Dixon finished 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 Penske’s Helio Castroneves and AJ Foyt Racing’s 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. 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 on 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 for Dale Coyne Racing in his return from a fractured pelvis and right hip sustained in an accident in Indianapolis 500 qualifying in May.
“It wasn’t an easy race,” Bourdais said. “We knew the car wasn’t perfect and I had some really complicated restarts. I don’t know what was going on, but I got loose three times and I almost stuffed it, and so I went to the back of the pack. The guys did a really good job in the pits and got us back in contention there at the end.”
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.