MADISON, Ill – Heading into Saturday night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500, the NTT IndyCar Series points standings were starting to tighten up a bit. Third and fourth in the standings in Simon Pagenaud and Scott Dixon had finished ahead of the top two in the standings in Josef Newgarden and Alexander Rossi in three of the last four races. Fifth place in the standings Will Power had just won last weekend and was the defending race winner here at the World Wide Technology Raceway.
In the end, only one of the drivers in the top five of the standings came away in the top five in the race itself.
It all started when Alexander Rossi had to change his gearbox minutes before the engines were fired on pit road. It didn’t cost him anything on track, but it was a sign then that this could be a wild night. He was on the wrong end of pit strategy and had to hit pit lane for the final time with 19 laps-to-go and fell from a top 10 result to 13th. He moves from second to third in the standings as he went from 16 points out to 46 in two weeks. Rossi, has failed to lead a lap since his dominating day in Road America on June 23 too.
Power, crashed out while battling him for what should have been the lead of the race during the first pit sequence on Lap 52. He went from first last weekend to last this week. He’s now 147 points down.
Then, under that caution, Dixon had his radiator go out on his No. 9 Honda which sent him to the garage for repairs. He’d come back out over 50 laps down in 21st place.
But, the move to send him back out was a smart one as he did gain a position when Spencer Pigot crashed on Lap 132 bringing out the fourth caution of the night. He’d finish 20th for his worst finish since crashing out at Texas in June. At that point, Dixon had finished 17th or worse in three of four races. Since though, he had a top five in every race with four straight top two finishes heading into Saturday night.
Then came Josef Newgarden’s disater final lap as he had contact from Santino Ferrucci in the final turn on the final lap and went from fifth to seventh.
The driver of the day among them was Pagenaud who finished fifth but was ahead of Newgarden and Rossi for the fourth time in the last five races. He moves into second in the standings, only 38 points out.