Things got underway earlier than expected at Worldwide Technology Raceway for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 in anticipation of impending rain. With the start time moved up half an hour, IndyCar hoped to get past half distance before the rain fell in case they had to call the race. This decision proved smart as rain fell, bringing out the red flag on lap 214.
Before the red flag period, the race was a true strategic battle as passing proved difficult after showers earlier in the day washed away a lot of the rubber laid down over yesterday, especially that on the high line.
Once the race got going again with 40 laps remaining, the show really started. David Malukas restarted fifth, but wasted no time getting ahead of pole sitter Will Power and then the fight was on for podium places. The Chicago-born rookie set his sights on the bright orange of Pato O’Ward and started setting up his move.
The rookie got around the veteran with roughly 10 laps to go and, not content with just third, focused shifted towards Scott McLaughlin. He got around McLaughlin on the high line on the last lap and secured the second podium spot. It was a thrilling end, and gave Malukas his first ever IndyCar podium.
Though Malukas’ celebration felt like a victory, Josef Newgarden was the one that took the victory in the rain-delayed race.
The win was Newgarden’s 25th career win, and places him second in the points standings with just two races remaining on the season.
The biggest mover of the day came from Felix Rosenqvist who found 13 spots from last place on lap 13. The Chevy-powered cars rose to the top after a Honda dominated practice on Friday, with four of the top five sports being Chevy powered cars after the first 25 laps of the race.
Things began to settle pretty quickly, which was a stark contrast from last year which saw three yellow flags before lap 35. Devlin Defrancheso continues to be stand out this weekend running 8th at this stage in the race while his teammates struggled near the middle and back of the pack.
The battle for the top spots raged on, but near the back of the grid a bad day was getting worse for Ed Carpenter Racings #21 entry with Rinus VeeKay. VeeKay got a pit lane speed violation around lap 57, but it wouldn’t matter for long. He would eventually retire with electrical issues When the green flag flew to start the race, VeeKay went up the outside and made contact with the wall, he was able to carry on, but pace suffered until he was forced to call it a day.
The Penske drivers dominated the first portion of the race, but right before the red flag was shown the Dale Coyne Racing cars would make the best strategy call they possibly could have. Four laps before the rain fell, both David Malukas and Takuma Sato dipped into the pits from the top two spots for fresh fuel and tires.
On first thought this was an unfortunate-missed opportunity, as putting the Dale Coyne Racing cars at the front of the field during the red flag when the race could have potentially called would have been the way to go. But it worked out in the end as both cars had the freshest tires and fuel tanks when the race got back underway, and they were starting from fifth and sixth and ready to fight.
There are only two races left in the season, with a trip out west to Portland and Laguna Seca on tap to decide the very-close title fight.