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Will Power joined the elite club of 50-time pole winners in Indy car history by breaking Gateway track record.

Power’s two-lap average speed of 189.642 mph on the Gateway Motorsports Park oval included a record lap of 189.709 mph (23.7206 seconds), breaking the 20-year-old track record set by Raul Boesel in 1997 (24.324 seconds, 187.963 mph).

Power, who won last week’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway, collected his sixth pole position of the season 50th of his 13-year Indy car career.

It tied the 36-year-old Australian with Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves for third place on the all-time list. The teammates trail only Mario Andretti (67) and A.J. Foyt (53).

Power has now win six or more pole positions in four seasons (eight each in 2010 and ’11, six in 2015).

Team Penske locked down the first four spots in qualifying. Following Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet were: points leader Josef Newgarden, who was second the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet (188.316 mph); Helio Castroneves, third in the No. 3 Shell Fuel Rewards Chevrolet (187.457 mph); and Simon Pagenaud, fourth in the No. 1 Menards Chevrolet (186.747 mph).

Team Penske has won 10 of the 15 poles to date in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series. It is also the 255th Indy car pole in team history.

Team owner/driver Ed Carpenter was the top non-Penske qualifier, ranking fifth in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing (184.528 mph). Reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato was sixth in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Honda (184.186 mph).

With three races remaining in the 2017 season, Newgarden holds an 18-point lead over Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, who qualified seventh. Castroneves trails Newgarden by 22 points, Pagenaud is 26 points back and Power, with the point earned for winning the pole, is 41 points behind the leader.

source: indycar.com

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Helio Castroneves can’t wait to return to Gateway Motorsports Park. No, not just because he won the last Indy car pole and race at the track. This time, he has more practical reasons.

Notably, a recent repave that impressed the drivers who tested there Aug. 3.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a track that’s as smooth as a baby’s butt,” Castroneves said. “It’s so smooth and so amazing. Wow! I feel like it’s going to be an awesome race. It’s going to be great because there’s a lot of grip. It’s fast.”

Indy cars haven’t raced on the unique 1.25-mile oval since 2003, when Castroneves held off Tony Kanaan to win. In fact, just three drivers entered in Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline – Castroneves, Kanaan and Scott Dixon – competed at Gateway during its seven-year run of CART and Verizon IndyCar Series events in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Castroneves recalled his 2003 victory not for what resulted, but for what he didn’t have while racing.

“I didn’t have a dash (readout),” he said. “My steering wheel somehow had a glitch. It was blinking from the beginning, and it never stopped doing it throughout the race. I had no information. No RPMs, no information regarding fuel mileage or lap times, no gear pattern – nothing. It was like old times when you didn’t have anything.”

He also recalled the track’s unusual configuration. The egg-shaped oval features differing turning radii at each end, with Turns 1-2 much tighter than Turns 3-4. It’s often compared with Twin Ring Motegi, a 1.549-mile oval in Motegi, Japan, that hosted the series until 2010 (with a final race run on the Motegi road course in 2011).

“I used to do really well in Japan,” Castroneves said. “Some tracks just suit your style, and I think this is one of them. It’s one of those things that feels automatic or natural. It comes your way. Even though it will be different cars and different speeds, I feel like it’s still a pretty good place for me.”

Gateway has a diverse if somewhat brief history in open-wheel racing. The first four races, beginning in 1997, were under CART sanction. In 2001, it switched to the Indy Racing League – what is now the Verizon IndyCar Series.

Other winners in addition to Castroneves in seven years at Gateway were Alex Zanardi, Gil de Ferran, Paul Tracy, Juan Pablo Montoya, Michael Andretti and Al Unser Jr.

The renewal of Gateway on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule comes at a crucial point in the 2017 season, one of three races in a 15-day span that set up the double-points season finale Sept. 17 at Sonoma Raceway  

Josef Newgarden, who finished second behind Team Penske teammate Will Power on Sunday at Pocono Raceway, leads Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon by just 18 points, the third-smallest margin with three races remaining since 2010. Castroneves is in third, four points behind Dixon.

Fifteen drivers remain mathematically eligible for the title, including 2016 champion Simon Pagenaud, who is fourth in the standings, 26 points off Newgarden’s pace.

“We're racing every week now,” Pagenaud said. “It's crunch time for the championship. This is what racing is all about, when you have to bring your 'A' game in tough situations.”

But for Castroneves, the return to Gateway is more than just the resurrection of a racetrack. It’s an emotional experience. In 1999, Carl Hogan hired Castroneves to drive the No. 9 Hogan Racing Mercedes-Benz, a year after Castroneves’ Indy car career started with Bettenhausen Motorsports. The Hogan team’s shop was based in St. Louis and Castroneves’ runner-up finish at Gateway in 1999 was his – and the team’s – best finish of the season.

At the end of the season, Hogan disbanded the team. The following year, Castroneves joined Team Penske. In January 2001, Hogan died.

“They gave me an opportunity in Indy car (racing),” Castroneves said. “For me, Gateway is a special place. The Hogan family welcomed me with such open arms. St. Louis is the place where I started all over again. It’s so special. It’s such a great memory.”

source: indycar.com

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IndyCar Series returned to Gateway Motorsports Park in speedy fashion, with two drivers logging laps in opening practice for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline under the official track record.

Team Penske teammates Will Power and Josef Newgarden each turned laps on the 1.25-mile oval quicker than the lap standard set 20 years ago by Raul Boesel of 24.324 seconds. Since track records may only be set in qualifying or a race, Boesel’s mark will hold up at least until this evening’s Verizon P1 Award qualifying session 

Power is fresh off a win five days ago at Pocono Raceway – his third victory of the season. The Australian also drew the favored last position in the order for this evening’s qualifying.

“There’s lot more grip, it’s way smoother,” Power said of the recently repaved Gateway surface. “It was a very quick session, so we’ll go back and think about qualifying, what we’ve got to do. Going last in line, so that’s good. Get to see how people do first.”

Indy cars haven’t race at Gateway – situated just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis – since 2003. Making qualifying simulation runs late in the 60-minute opening practice, Power ran a lap of 24.2521 seconds (185.551 mph) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet to lead the 21-car field. Championship leader Newgarden, in the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevy, was second at 24.2635 seconds (185.464 mph).

Team Penske drivers nailed down the top four spots in the practice, with Simon Pagenaud third in the No. 1 Menards Chevrolet (24.4552 seconds, 184.010 mph) and Helio Castroneves fourth in the No. 3 Shell Fuel Rewards Chevrolet (24.4598 seconds, 183.975 mph).

Verizon IndyCar Series rookie Ed Jones was the fastest non-Penske and non-Chevrolet with a lap of 24.5365 seconds 183.400 mph in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda. Sebastien Bourdais, Jones’ teammate at Dale Coyne Racing, made his first competitive appearance since fracturing his right hip and pelvis in a May 20 crash while qualifying for the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais was 15th on the speed chart with a lap of 24.8177 seconds 181.322 mph.

Newgarden takes an 18-point lead over Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon into the Bommarito Automotive Group 500, the 15th of 17 races in the 2017 IndyCar Series season.

source: indycar.com

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The lead change summary in the box score from today’s ABC Supply 500 reads like a phone book. If only 10 names were repeated again and again, that is.

One of those recurring names – Alexander Rossi – appeared more than most.

Rossi led seven times for 44 laps before finishing third at Pocono Raceway, just 0.7112 of a second behind Will Power, who beat Team Penske teammate Josef Newgarden to the finish line by 0.5268 of a second.

The most interesting thing about Rossi’s podium finish? The fuel trim knob on his No. 98 Andretti Autosport/Curb Honda broke midway through the race, leaving him helpless to adjust the car's fuel mixture.

“We were stuck in the mix, and it certainly wasn't optimum,” Rossi said. “It made restarts challenging, and definitely at the end when the two guys in front of me were pushing quite hard. We didn't have all of our full-on power, which is usually quite strong around here. It was a bit unfortunate.”

Before the malfunction, though, Rossi appeared to have the strongest car in the race. Starting from the sixth position, he first found his way to the front on Lap 12, then proceeded to accumulate all 44 of his leading laps within the first 114 circuits of the 200-lap race.    

“We got right to the front from the beginning, which was positive,” Rossi said. “Really, it was our race to control at that point from a fuel standpoint. … Being on the podium backs up kind of the form we know we have on superspeedways, and it's good momentum going into the last few races.”

It also was good momentum for the series’ recent record of back-and-forth racing on superspeedways. Nearly half of the 22-car field led laps, and there were 42 lead changes overall – a Pocono race record. All of which made Rossi happy.

"I had a smile on my face the whole race," he said. "It's rare that you don't driving Indy cars, especially at a track as awesome as this. I had fun for the entire race, and any time you're leading, there's some satisfaction that goes with it."

"It's also a double-edged sword around here because you're not making very good fuel numbers, so you want a lead just because it makes you happy, but then your crew is like, ‘You shouldn't be doing this.’ There's a balance to that, like everything."

As teams and drivers turn their focus to Saturday’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois, Rossi stands eighth in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings. He is 100 points behind Newgarden, who leads second-place Scott Dixon by 18 points.

“At the end of the day, it was a strong showing for Andretti Autosport,” said Rossi, the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner. “We validated what we're capable of on the superspeedways. But it's difficult to beat these guys, so we're going to keep working at it and hopefully get it done the next few races.”

source: indycar.com

 

         

 

 

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