By: Spencer Neff
August 24, 2019 | 10:51 PM
For the second time this season, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato was victorious. In an eventful Bommarito Automotive Group 500, Sato held off Ed Carpenter Racing owner/driver Ed Carpenter by 0.0399 seconds to win in the final oval race of the 2019 IndyCar season at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
For Sato, the win comes a week after being at the center of a Lap 1 crash at Pocono Raceway.
With the victory, Sato now has five career wins and has won multiple races in a season for the first time. This is also Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s first win on an oval since Graham Rahal did so at Texas Motor Speedway in 2016.
As for his Honda power plant, they win their first oval race since Alexander Rossi won at Pocono last year.
It is their second World Wide technology Raceway at Gateway victory, their other win at this track came with Alex Zanardi in 1998. This also snaps Team Penske’s five-race oval win-streak, dating back to this race in 2018.
In a wild race, Sato’s win over Carpenter was the closest finish in not only the track’s history, but the closest on a short oval – tracks 1.5 miles or less in length. Despite falling short of his fourth career win, Carpenter earned his best finish since his runner-up effort at the 2018 Indianapolis 500.
Rounding out a surprise podium this evening was A.J. Foyt Racing’s Tony Kanaan, his first podium since the Texas Motor Speedway race in 2017.
After leading a race-high 97 laps, Dale Coyne Racing’s Santino Ferrucci equaled his career-best finish of fourth. Following points leader Josef Newgarden’s last-corner incident with Ferrucci and ensuing spin, Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud finished fifth.
Fortunately for Newgarden, he was able to increase his points lead to 38 markers. With Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi finishing a lap down in 13th, Pagenaud took over second place in the points with two races remaining.
A wild final lap was fitting, considering the unpredictable nature of the 248-lap event.
As was the case last weekend, Lap 1 was marred by a caution. In Turn 4, Marcus Ericsson got loose and spun. Although the Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports rookie continued on, he did have to pit for a wing change.
When the race resumed on Lap 7, the action picked up almost immediately. After starting second, Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan’s Sebastien Bourdais quickly dropped to fourth as Power and Ferrucci stormed past.
At the front of the field, Newgarden continued to lead despite reporting significant left-side tire wear. Soon after pit stops began on Lap 51, the yellow would fly.
On Lap 54, defending race winner Will Power drifted into the Turn 4 wall. For the Team Penske driver, his chance at two in a row at the track and in the series ended early.
While the last few drivers pitted, Scott Dixon reported an issue with his radiator. After being unable to diagnose the issue on pit lane, the Chip Ganassi Racing crew took his Dallara-Honda back to the garage.
After losing 59 laps due to repairs, the defending series champion returned to the fray. As it turned out, his radiator had been punctured on the opening lap. Despite making a brief return to the race, Dixon ended the day 20th, 112 laps down.
Upon the Lap 70 restart, James Hinchcliffe continued to use his late green-flag pit stop to his advantage. Within ten laps, Ferrucci took the fight to the Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver.
By Lap 84, the rookie was able to take over at the front of the field.
Prior to his second pit stop on Lap 110, the rookie built a lead of over seven seconds on the field.
During the sequence, the yellow flag flew once again. For the second time, Ericsson made contact with the Turn 4 wall.
When the race went back to green on Lap 131, the fierce battles behind Ferrucci continued. Two laps later, Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot spun in Turn 3 while battling Carlin Racing’s Charlie Kimball.
After struggling yesterday, Rossi charged up to third on the ensuing restart. Despite another dominant stint, Ferrucci ran into trouble on the following round of pit stops.
Due to issues refueling and on his rear tires, the rookie was beaten out of the pits by Bourdais. On Lap 191, Bourdais spun after tagging the outside retaining wall on the front straightaway.
In what turned out to be a 15-lap caution, the first four drivers were able to pit and top off with fuel. Up front, the leaders were able to pull away from the field.
Despite a last-lap push, Carpenter was unable to catch Sato and settled for second.
Although the race was slowed to an average speed of 136.874 mph by five cautions spanning 49 laps, track records were set.
The lead changed hands 13 times among 11 drivers. Additionally, all four full-time rookies led in this race.
With the oval portion of the season wrapped up, the NTT Indycar Series closes 2019 with two natural terrain road courses.
Next week, the NTT IndyCar Series will travel to the Pacific Northwest – Portland International Raceway – for the penultimate race of the 2019 championship.
First practice for the Portland Grand Prix will begin at 1:50 PM Eastern time, while the second practice is slated for a 5:40 PM start this Friday.
On Saturday, a 45-minute final practice begins at 2 PM Eastern time. At 6:00 PM, three rounds of knockout-style qualifying will begin.
As is the case with all practices, there will be streaming available via the NBC Sports Gold app. At 3:00 PM Sunday, prerace coverage begins on NBC. The green flag for the 105-lap race is scheduled for 3:35 PM Eastern.
Have a great week and stay with Open-Wheels.com and our platforms for more coverage on the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 and the NTT IndyCar Series.
Header Image By Chris Owens/INDYCAR