In the first IndyCar race at WWTR, CGR’s Scott Dixon won from RLLR’s Takuma Sato, with a gap of just 0.140 seconds. Arrow McLaren SP’s Patricio O’ward came third.
As an IndyCar field of 23 embarked on the first race of two at Worldwide Technologies Raceway, better known as Gateway, a sense of uncertainty controlled the atmosphere, as did a high chance of precipitation, which threatened the running of the race.
The risk of rain, though, did not hinder the start, which saw Team Penske’s Will Power start in pole position, with Arrow McLaren SP’s Patricio O’ward off the right-hand side of his Dallara-Chevrolet IndyCar.
What would prevent a start, however, was an incident prior to the flying of the green flag, kickstarted by Arrow McLaren SP’s Oliver Askew hitting the rear of Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud. Having been hit by Askew, the Frenchman made contact with Andretti’s Alexander Rossi, the result of which saw Rossi hit the wall, and cause yet more damage as ECR’s Ed Carpenter, Andretti’s Zach Veach, and his teammate Marco Andretti both made contact with surrounding cars in their respective bids to take evasive action.
None of the three Andretti cars involved were able to continue running, and Ed Carpenter was another casualty of the incident, as his IndyCar suffered damage. The marooned cars were cause for a caution, and upon the restart 14 laps later, the racing action finally kicked off, with Power producing a commanding lead rather quickly.
And as the passing of lap 50 opened up the second quarter of the race, so too did lap 60 the first pit window, which saw O’ward perform the undercut on Power, who further dropped down after CGR’s Scott Dixon performed an overcut and stripped the Australian of yet another position.
On lap 81, Pagenaud, who had been nursing a severe issue with his gearbox after the aforementioned crash, was called to the pits to retire his car. Similarly, Graham Rahal retired with his RLLR Dallara-Honda IndyCar with an unspecified issue.
Lap 100 came and went, ensuring that the race would finish on Saturday, and this fact became increasingly relevant as inclement weather hit the track, bringing out a caution. This caution severely disadvantaged those that had pitted prior to the FCY, as the top 11 cars – all of whom had yet to pit once again – were then given a pit stop without significant penalty.
And that they did on lap 116, in a pit cycle that saw all but one of the leading bunch dive for the pits. The restart then saw one of the leading CGR cars of Felix Rosenqvist drop several positions after a mammoth of a slide while side-by-side with Colton Herta.
The final round of pit stops commenced as lap 150 passed, and while some pitted, the leaders stayed out for roughly ten laps, only pitting on lap 164, at which point Dixon overtook O’ward by virtue of a better stop. The Kiwi would develop a strong lead over his adversary.
Some alternate-strategy cars threatened the lead of Dixon, among them 2020 Indy 500 champion and IndyCar veteran Takuma Sato. The Japanese driver, though, had trouble in the pits, and it seemed all hopes of a win for him had been dashed.
However, the RLLR driver still managed to re-enter the race in third, and soon he overtook O’ward for second in a daring overtake. Then, Sato set off on his journey to catch up to Dixon, and that he did with roughly five laps to go, setting up the very battle that fans were denied at the Indy500, albeit with reversed roles.
In the end, Dixon managed to keep Sato at bay, albeit only with a margin of 0.140 seconds. O’ward (third), too, held off his pursuers, the closest being Andretti’s Colton Herta, who managed to beat CGR’s Marcus Ericsson in his own right.
For ECR, Rinus Veekay managed sixth, having held off Andretti’s Ryan Hunter-reay. Meanwhile, the third CGR IndyCar of Felix Rosenqvist came home eighth. In what may be his last ever weekend in the series, Tony Kanaan came ninth for AJ Foyt.
In his Carlin, Conor Daly rounded out the top ten, as MSR’s Jack Harvey came 11th. Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden finished 12th, from another AJ Foyt car in Charlie Kimball. Oliver Askew secured 14th, while Alex Palou came 15th for DCR.
Positions 16-17: Santino Ferrucci (DCR), Power. DNFs: Rahal, Pagenaud, Carpenter, Veach, Rossi, Andretti.
Here’s how the IndyCar Indy500 went last weekend