Will Power used a dominant run during the back half of Saturday’s Bammarito 500 at Gateway Motorsports Park to secure his third win of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Will Power wins at Gateway, Rossi gains three points on Dixon
Although Power added to an already impressive season that includes an Indy 500 win, even though he won’t come home with the points championship.
“I was happy to get my first win with Roger [Penske],” Power said. “When you have Roger on the radio, he’s always pushing you to pass cars and that’s what we did.”
Though, the story everyone was looking at was surrounding the two drivers that rounded out the podium. Alexander Rossi used a three-stop strategy to finish in second and more importantly ahead of points leader Scott Dixon, who was third.
Rossi vs Dixon Battle
Coming into the race, Rossi was on a two-race win streak, and had trimmed Dixon’s points lead to 29 points. Since qualifying on Friday was rained out, the lineup was set by the point standings, and Dixon would lead the field to green alongside Rossi.
The action picked up right from the get go. After a bad start, Rossi was shuffled back to P4 behind Josef Newgarden and Power. It took him a chunk of laps, but by lap 113, Rossi was able to overtake a slow Power on the inside of turns one and two.
After the second round of pit stops in what is usually a four-stop race, Rossi and Dixon remained at the forefront with Power following closely behind. The final caution of the race came with 70 laps and saw the leaders come down pit road.
At this point in the race, Power held the lead and would go on to win the race off of pit road followed by Dixon and Rossi. The normal fuel window at the track is 57-62 laps, but Rossi and the NAPA Racing team didn’t bat an eye. The team opted to stay out and try to save enough fuel to get to the end of the race, and it worked.
“It’s a mental game,” Rossi said. “You’re trying to hit a fuel number within a certain amount of laps. A huge hats off goes to Rob Edwards and the entire No. 27 NAPA-Andretti team for coming up with it and keeping the faith that I could manage it. It was just enough at the end.”
Rossi crossed the line in second, far behind the leader in Power, but clipped Dixon by just a few car lengths. The second-place finish for Rossi trims Dixon’s lead in the standings down to 26 points.
“The goal really was to beat [Dixon], and we were able to do that,” Rossi said. “Even though it’s only a couple point swing, we’ll take it.” Now, following Gateway, the series will travel to Portland International Raceway for the final regular points paying race of the season.
Battle For The Championship
The series finale at Sonoma will feature a double-points-paying system that will give the winner 20 points more than even the second-place finisher.
“The goal right now is to just get hopefully under 20 points going into Sonoma and then it can really be about who beats the other person,” Rossi said.
Flying under the radar amongst the points battle between positions one and two was rookie Zach Veach, who corralled his second top five of his career, finishing fifth. Veach, driving for Andretti Autosport, has finished in the top 10 of each of the past four races.
The series will return to the track next week when it travels to Portland International Raceway for the first time since 2007. The race will be televised live by NBCSN with the green flag scheduled to fly at 2:30 p.m. ET.
Verizon IndyCar Series point standings
After 15 of 17 races
1. Scott Dixon 568 | -0
2. Alexander Rossi 542 | -26
3. Will Power 500 | -68
4. Josef Newgarden 490 | -78
5. Ryan Hunter-Reay 421 | -147
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