Will Power pitted from the lead with 18 laps to go on Saturday night. In what became a fuel mileage race, Power would cycle back to the top spot seven laps later. The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Champion led 93 laps and won the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park. It is the Team Penske driver’s third win of 2018 and first since the Indianapolis 500 on May 27. With the win, he ties Bobby Unser for seventh on the all-time win list with 35.
Power finished 1.3117 seconds ahead of Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi. Points leader Scott Dixon would take the last step on the podium. Power’s teammate Simon Pagenaud finished fourth with Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach scoring his second Top Five.
With Friday afternoon’s qualifying session rained out, the starting lineup would be determined by entrant points. As a result, Dixon started on the pole.
As was the case in 2017, there was a crash on Lap 1 in Turn 2. Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan’s Sebastien Bourdais made contact with the Turn 2 SAFER barrier.
He would climb from his car on his own, but the heavy right-side damage ended his day early. Before the first caution, Power and teammate Josef Newgarden got around Alexander Rossi for second and third.
Following the Lap 7 restart, Newgarden and Rossi battled for third. With Rossi battling understeer in his Dallara-Honda, Newgarden took the spot from him. Rossi would take the spot back before the first sequence of pit stops.
After the initial pit stop sequence, Dixon would get ahead of Will Power and continue to lead. Rossi would be the last of the leaders to pit but did not make it the farthest between stops.
On Lap 150, Power was able to use a strong run off Turn 4 to pass Dixon down the front straightaway for the lead. Once the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series Champion took the lead, he would pull away. Within 10 laps, Power’s lead over Dixon would extend to 4.1920 seconds.
On Lap 172, the caution flag was brought out for the second and final time in the race. Ryan Hunter-Reay slowed on the backstretch. He did make it onto pit road unassisted, but his Andretti Autosport machine stalled during his pit stop. His day ended after Hunter-Reay informed NBCSN’s Jon Beekhuis that it was a fuel pressure-related problem.
The race restarted on Lap 183 and Power would charge to an early lead. The action further back would pick up, however. Ed Jones would drive up from fifth to third, passing Veach and Rossi. Pagenaud and Veach passed Jones before his final pit stop on Lap 227.
Four laps later, Power would pit from the lead and Dixon took the top spot. Once Dixon and the other leaders pitted, Power took back control of the race on Lap 238. Rossi hoped to take advantage of the lapped traffic Power hit at the end but was unable to get close enough to take the lead.
The 248-lap race was slowed by just two cautions for 16 laps. With an average speed of 155.644 MPH, it is the fastest IndyCar race at the 1.25-mile track. The previous record was 155.519 MPH from the 2000 CART race.
The 10 lead changes (among 5 leaders) are tied with the 1997, 1999 and 2000 CART Races and the 2002 IRL race for the second-most during a race at the track. Last year’s race still holds the record with 11 lead changes.
With the sixth and final oval race of the season in the books, teams now turn their focus to two road courses. Only Portland International Raceway (September 2nd) and Sonoma Raceway (September 16) remain before the end of the 17-race schedule.
After Saturday night’s race, Dixon holds a 26-point lead over Rossi. Power is 68 points back after his victory, with Newgarden 78 back. Hunter-Reay is fifth, a distant 147 points back of Dixon.
First practice for the Portland Grand Prix will begin on August 31 at 1:45 p.m. Eastern time. The race will be run on September 2, with the broadcast beginning at 2:30 p.m. Eastern time on NBC Sports Network.
Header Image by Chris Owens/INDYCAR Media