An Interesting Night, Indeed

The 2021 Bommarito 500 is now in the books. Counting the double-header last year, this was the sixth edition of this incarnation of the race – since the NTT IndyCar Series returned to the 1.25 egg-shaped oval in Madison, Illinois in 2017. Without going back an reviewing each race, this one stands out as perhaps the most unique.

It was a night that started off with a series of yellow flags, and ended with Josef Newgarden in victory lane as the championship got turned upside down in one incident.

It was a beautiful night as the cars pulled away from the grid in rows of three, just as twilight was turning into nightfall. Nothing looks better than shiny Indy cars under the lights – that is, unless you have a matte finish on your car like Will Power, Sébastien Bourdais or the two McLaren cars.

The start was decent enough. Colton Herta took the lead from pole-sitter Will Power on Lap Two, and then it all went terribly wrong. Ed Jones was attempting to pass Graham Rahal in Turn One, and then appeared to just lose the back-end. He carried Rahal to the wall with him. The car of Jones was carted off on a wrecker, but Rahal made it back around to the pits. His team tried to repair the car with what looked like black Gorilla Tape. It was not to be and Rahal’s promising night was done after only four total laps.

That was a sign of things to come.

Just as they were getting ready to go green, Dalton Kellett got punted by Ed Carpenter and turned around – extending the yellow. Then as it looked like the field was finally going to go green, Takuma Sato jumped the start and they waved it off. The field finally went green on Lap 14…until Lap 17 when the field was slowed for debris, when Simon Pagenaud made contact with his teammate Josef Newgarden.

Then on Lap 21, there was a situation called a light malfunction as the flagman waved the green flag, but the lights stayed yellow around the track. That yellow lasted for four laps. By Lap 25, twenty-one laps had been run under caution.

But things settled down for thirty-one laps, until Ed Carpenter lost it by himself in Turn Four and backed it into the wall. After eight laps of caution to clean up Carpenter’s accident, the following re-start denied the race and quite possible, the championship.

Scott Dixon had been running a quiet race, mostly around eighth or ninth all night. On the restart, the filed headed into Turn One when Rinus VeeKay ran into the back of Scott Dixon. VeeKay then slid up the track and carried points-leader Alex Palou into the wall. Palou once had more than a race lead over his closest competitor. Tonight, he left the track in second place – ten points behind Pato O’Ward.

VeeKay was long removed from championship contention, but this could have done more damage to Dixon’s hopes than anyone else’s. Dixon now trails O’Ward by forty-three points with only three races remaining.

After that significant turn of events, there was only one more yellow – on Lap 201, when Alexander Rossi pushed into the Turn Two wall just after pitting. That was the second of two disasters for Andretti Autosport. The first came after Colton Herta pitted after leading for 101 laps. When his team dropped him off the jacks, he was already spinning his wheels and he broke a half-shaft. Both cars threw away podium finishes and possible a win.

But congratulations to Josef Newgarden and Team Penske. Pato O’Ward finished second and Will Power completed the podium.

newgarden trophy

The post-race press-conference was ore lively than usual – possibly due to the late hours and everyone was very tired. The drivers were more relaxed and very candid regarding the way some of their competitors were driving.

press conf

That will do it for us. It’s been a long day, and we appreciate everyone following along. I will have my usual Random Thoughts post on Monday, with a lot of thoughts on the shortened race weekend. Please check back Monday.

George Phillips

2 Responses to “An Interesting Night, Indeed”

  1. Shyam Cherupalla Says:

    Colton Herta said he pitted earlier than expected because he felt something even before the pitstop and sure enough the pit stop confrimed the breaking of the halfshaft

  2. once again, my NASCAR friends are loving Indycar’s style.

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