IndyCar Bommarito 500 Race Review: Hood Vibrations

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Photo from indycar.com

Josef Newgarden won his fourth race of the year Saturday night, making it three of the last four for the blonde American who somehow reminds us of a beach boy. He bested Scott Dixon by seven tenths of a second and was joined by peeved teammate Simon Pagenaud on the podium. Newkid’s late race pass around Pags for the lead was classic.

The race began comically, with the increasingly dangerous Tony Kanaan spinning and crashing on the final parade lap. It was a weird vibe to start a race. After some repairs, he eventually finished many laps down in sixteenth, then refused to do an interview. That’s some fan favorite, huh?

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

After the Kanaan debacle was cleaned up, the field had just taken the green flag when pole sitter Will Power spun and crashed into the turn 2 wall. Ed Carpenter and Takuma Sato were caught up in the melee, with Ed spectacularly going up and over Power’s car, their races ruined.

Sato posted that he was “hit from behind” in a subsequent Tweet. Ed mentioned the slick track and Lights rubber being a factor, and looked forward to next season. “This year just did not go well,” the owner/driver admitted. His employee J.R. Hildebrand later joined him in the pits after crashing out due to an apparent suspension failure. Power said “it was super slippery,” and that his teammate “Josef took my air” when passing. It’s “unfortunate,” the first to retire summed up, hinting at early dissension in the Penske ranks.

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Photo from sports.usatoday.com

Following the second brain fade in as many laps, Newgarden took command and pulled away from the field until the second round of pit stops. Further back, Ryan Hunter-Reay gained eight spots, advancing to 5th before eventually ruining the effort by drifting high into the wall on lap 203. He was the seventh DNF on the night – a full third of the field.

During the second round of pit stops, Newgarden was held up in the pits and as a result Helio took the lead. Penske President Tim Cindric later impolitely blamed the returning Sebastien Bourdais, who he said missed his neighboring pit stall entirely. The delay handed Helio a huge advantage, although another rare Penske pit issue would soon negate it.

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Photo from indycar.com

Defending race winner “HELL-io,” as Paul Tracy insists upon calling him, opened up the largest lead of the race as talk of tire blistering became the focus. Several drivers, including Conor Daly, Charlie Kimball, Alexander Rossi and Helio reported vibrations in their cars caused by excessive Firestone tire wear. These vibrations weren’t of the good kind, either.

Under green flag stops, Helio relinquished the lead and his chance to repeat by uncharacteristically stalling his car. A noticeably deflated Castro-Neves called it “a huge mistake” after the race. Thanks to the miscue Newgarden grabbed the lead, followed by Pagenaud and Dixon. They would go on to share the podium after a few more skirmishes and mistakes, though it wasn’t exactly all smiles. Ganassi’s Max Chilton then spun into the wall, bringing out the race’s penultimate caution.

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Photo from twitter.com

Restarts failed to thrill all night, with little passing except for back in the pack. Daly battled Kimball for many laps before finally overcoming him to finish fifth, his best ever result on an oval. At one point Kimball nearly hit Daly swerving to block him. Daly screamed into his radio “How did he get away with that?!” and called him “an idiot!” After a review by race control, no action was taken.

The pass of the race was when Newgarden went low and bumped past Pagenaud with thirty laps to go, stealing the lead and sending the Frenchman high toward the wall. Newkid never looked back, while it seems Pags isn’t likely soon to forget. Ominously, he spoke of losing both “trust” and “respect” for his teammate after the race. Uh-oh. Seems Team Penske’s good vibrations faded away completely last night in the hood of East St. Louis.

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Photo from indycar.com

Post Race Quotes –

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

Pags: “A real shame. The move, you know I don’t know what to say. I don’t have anything nice to say, so I’m not going to say it. It’s disappointing.” [Jon Beekhuis said Josef thought there was room.] “There was room with me. Anybody else he would be in the fence right there.”

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7 thoughts on “IndyCar Bommarito 500 Race Review: Hood Vibrations

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  5. As a native St. Louisan, you are COMPLETELY in the wrong calling Gateway’s location “in the hood of East St. Louis.” If you haven’t been to the track, and if you haven’t been to the ACTUAL hood of East St. Louis, then don’t speak on it, because Gateway isn’t remotely located to the neighborhood you’re comparing it to. To anyone familiar with the city who reads this, you’ve made yourself look extremely foolish with such a comparison, making it clear you’re desperate for viewership. I’ve always viewed INDYCAR (and its fans) as white-collar, but this pretentious statement which you’ve clearly made just for attention, is as blue-collar as it gets.

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