By: Tanner Watkins
August 22, 2019 | 8:00 AM
It is hard to believe that we only have three races remaining in this 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season. I can still imagine the brisk spring air in the Midwest while St. Petersburg enjoyed the March season opener, or the beautiful, rain-less day we were blessed with at the Indianapolis 500 in May.
But enough of the reminiscing – we have a championship battle on our hands.
After exiting in a first-lap crash at Pocono Raceway (and the drivers are still trying to decide who is to at fault for that one), Alexander Rossi has dropped to 35 points behind 2017 champion and current points leader Josef Newgarden.
The gap behind those two continues to narrow, though, as Simon Pagenuad is only 40 points behind his Penske teammate while Scott Dixon is lurking at 52 markers back.
With the double-points finale at Laguna Seca still in play, each of those four have a fighting chance at the title – and technically, eight drivers are still mathematically alive. Add Pocono winner Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato into that group.
Any driver who trails the championship leader by 159 points or more at the end of Saturday night’s race will be officially eliminated from championship contention.
In the two years since Gateway returned to the IndyCar schedule, the Penske duo of Newgarden and Power have been the only winners. With Power coming off a win last week and Newgarden’s short oval prowess, both drivers will be gunning for the top step on Saturday night.
“(Gateway) a track we feel really comfortable at and a place where I’ve had success in the PPG Chevy. Ovals can be tricky, but they’re really fun to race. And over the last couple of years, (World Wide Technology Raceway) has one of the most excited crowds we see all year, so it’s always really cool to be able to go there and put on a show for the fans,” said Newgarden this week.
“The win at Pocono is what we needed to really turn our season around,” added Power. “The guys on the Verizon Chevy have worked so hard all season and I’m glad they could finally celebrate a win. We feel like this is great momentum headed into this weekend at (World Wide Technology Raceway) where we’ve also had some success.
“I’ve made it no secret that I really enjoy racing at ovals these days, so I’m hoping we can make it two in a row. We are going to keep racing hard for every possible win or championship point we can get. We’re focused and ready for more.”
And one more thing – in the last 11 seasons, the driver leading the championship with three races to go has won the title six times. Newgarden is in place to make that seven out of 12 if he can manage a 35-point cushion through September.
And now, check out the Fast Facts for this weekend at the newly-renamed World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway!
Bommarito Automotive Group 500
presented by Axalta & Valvoline Fast Facts
Race weekend: Friday, Aug. 23 – Saturday, Aug. 24
Track: World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, a 1.25-mile oval in Madison, Illinois
Race distance: 248 laps / 310 miles
Firestone tire allotment: Eleven sets for use throughout the weekend
Twitter: @WWTRaceway, @IndyCar, #Bommarito500, #IndyCar
2018 race winner: Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet)
2018 pole sitter: Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda), field set by entrant points after qualifications were canceled by rain.
One-lap qualifying record: Will Power, 23.7206 seconds, 189.709 mph, Aug. 25, 2017
Two-lap qualifying record: Will Power, 47.4579 seconds, 189.642 mph, Aug. 25, 2017
NBCSN television broadcasts: Qualifying, 6 p.m. ET Friday, Aug. 23 (live); Race, 8 p.m. ET Saturday, Aug. 24 (live); Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer for the NBCSN telecasts this weekend alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Kelli Stavast and Robin Miller.
Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Anders Krohn. Jake Query is the turn announcer with Rob Howden, Nick Yeoman and Michael Young reporting from the pits.
All NTT IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 98, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. Live coverage of NTT IndyCar Series qualifying is available on Sirius 217, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
NBC Sports Gold livestreaming: All NTT IndyCar Series practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports’ direct-to-consumer livestreaming product.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, Aug. 23
1 – 2 p.m. – NTT IndyCar Series practice #1, NBC Sports Gold (live)
5:15 – 6:15 p.m. – Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (single car/cumulative time of two laps), NBCSN (live)
8:15 – 9:15 p.m. – NTT IndyCar Series final practice, NBC Sports Gold (live)
Saturday, Aug. 24
7:05 p.m. – Driver introductions
7:40 p.m. – Command to start engines
7:45 p.m. – Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta & Valvoline (248 laps/310 miles), NBCSN (live)
Header image by Matt Fraver/INDYCAR.