IndyCar: Josef Newgarden Takes Victory In Toronto
The championship tightens up with just five races left to go.
The race started off as planned for Helio Castroneves. He jumped from third to first by late-braking into the first corner. The man in front of Castroneves in the championship, Scott Dixon, was stuck further back in the pack. Going in to turn one, Dixon and Will Power had a little contact. Power then hit outside wall and bounced back into the left rear corner of Dixon's car. Power did significant damage to his front and rear suspension. Though he made it back to the pits, he never came back out. Dixon got a left rear tire puncture and some brake duct damage from the contact and was forced to pit. He stayed on the lead lap, but was at the back of the field.
Castroneves then took off, taking Simon Pagenaud, Graham Rahal, and Spencer Pigot with him away from the rest of the field. In the early stages, Castroneves was looking like he could stay up front for the whole race. Before the lead group could pit, Tony Kanaan locked up and slid into the tire wall following his stop on lap 23. This brought out the safety car and changed everything.
A good number of cars had pitted early. With the lead group having stayed out, they would get shuffled back after their stops. Josef Newgarden, who started seventh, came into the pits just seconds before they were closed when the safety car was deployed. As everyone else, including the leading four cars, made their stops, Newgarden found himself in the lead.
Castroneves emerged from the pits in 14th position. Dixon, who was involved in the opening lap incident and had made several stops to repair his car, was in 12th. This was not how Castroneves envisioned things would go after he took the lead on the first lap.
Newgarden may have gotten a little lucky with the timing of his first pit stop, but once he was out front, he was untouchable. As he stormed off, Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe followed, though there were about six seconds between each of them for the bulk of the race. Newgarden's car was so hooked-up that by the end of the race had almost all of his push-to-pass left. Rossi used his up trying to catch Newgarden, but it had little to no effect on the gap.
The trio would go on to finish in that order. This was Newgarden's fifth IndyCar win and his second in Toronto. This win keeps him in fourth and firmly in the hunt for the championship this year.
Aside from his 2016 Indy 500 win, second place was Rossi's best finish and his only other IndyCar Podium.
Further back in the field, Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay did their best Azerbaijan Angry Vettel impersonation on each other. Pagenaud said his car got sucked in under braking, causing him to bump Hunter-Reay. However, Hunter-Reay said since Pagenaud hit him, he retaliated and hit him back. No action was taken against either driver, though something should have been done.
IndyCar's replay doesn't show the first hit from Pagenaud which happened right before this video starts.
Castroneves did end up finishing a few spots in front of Dixon, who's lead in the championship is now down to just three points. Because Pagenaud finished a few spots in front of them, he made up ground on the pair. The spread in the championship from Dixion (423) to Castroneves (420) to Pagenaud (404) to Newgarden (400) is just 23 points. With five races left in the season, it's really is anyone's game at this point.
IndyCar will be back in action at Mid-Ohio on July 30.