Gateway Wrap-Up

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It took over four and a half hours, but the 2022 edition of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 is now in the books. It was worth waiting for. After a more than a two hour rain delay, the final forty-two laps were run; much to the chagrin of Scott McLaughlin who was leading when the rains came.

When it became obvious that the race would be restarted, McLaughlin knew he had his work cut out for him, with Josef Newgarden behind him. After all, Newgarden had already won three times at World Wide Technology Raceway. When the green flag flew, McLaughlin’s fears came true as Newgarden flew by him. From that point until two laps to go, it appeared that Newgarden would lead a Penske one-two finish.

What McLaughlin did not count on was rookie David Malukas being shot out of a cannon. Malukas started fifth after the rain delay. With about ten laps to go, Malukas passed Pato O’Ward for third. I was standing with a few friends in Turn Four and we were watching Malukas closing in on McLaughlin lap by lap. When they came around with two laps to go – Malukas was ahead of McLaughlin as they headed for the white flag.

Before the rain delay, the race was somewhat processional. Pole-sitter Will Power dominated early, leading 128 laps, but he never led past Lap 157 (of 260). After the only caution of the night due to contact, when Jack Harvey made contact with the Turn Four wall, O’Ward went by Power. But Newgarden’s car came to life after that yellow, as he blew by O’Ward and then basically checked out. Before he pitted on Lap 207, Newgarden appeared to have almost a half a lap lead on the rest of the field. But he lost the lead to McLaughlin, who held it until the race was red flagged. But on the restart, Newgarden retook the lead from McLaughlin and held the point until the checkered flag, securing Newgarden’s career-best fifth victory of the season.

Will Power now leads Newgarden by only three points in the championship. Scott Dixon slipped to third, by finishing eighth; but he is still a very close fourteen points behind Power with two races remaining. Marcus Ericsson is only seventeen points behind Power and still very much in the championship hunt. Alex Palou is now forty-three points out and is still mathematically alive. However, he needs some help and I really consider this down to a four-driver championship battle.

In the post-race press conference, I don’t know when I’ve seen a driver happier to be there than David Malukas. He had so much energy about him, he seemed to be vibrating. He did not give the polished answers that his podium mates did. Instead, he gave genuine answers with raw emotion. Most drivers act like they can’t wait for the press conferences to end. Malukas acted like he wanted to stay all night. He probably won’t wipe that smile off of his face for a week.

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Josef Newgarden was actually pretty candid too. He spoke highly of Malukas, saying he thought he was the best rookie he’s seen since he has been in IndyCar. Newgarden said he was glad that there were only two laps remaining when Malukas moved into second, because he knew Malukas was hungry and would be looking to take his first win. Had there been another ten laps remaining, Newgarden thought he might be in trouble.

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Newgarden also said that he wished this race had been scheduled to be a true night race and hopes it will be again in the future; but he said those decisions are not left to him.

That will do it for me tonight. It’s been a fun weekend. I really like this race, but it was different without my sidekick, my photographer and my wife – who all happen to be the same person. Rest assured she watched every lap and we talked often through the day. I will be here on Monday with my usual Random Thoughts

Congratulations to Josef Newgarden for his twenty-fifth career win, Team Penske for placing two on the podium and for David Malukas for a well-earned second place finish.

George Phillips

4 Responses to “Gateway Wrap-Up”

  1. Malukas has been a revelation to me. I was pleasantly surprised last year when he was able to give Kirkwood such a good run in Lights. This year his open approach, honesty and growing race craft has been one of the seasons big wins. I hope he gets one more year with Dad at Coyne. I also hope that when he lands at Chip or Penske he is not consumed by their PR people. Joseph is getting better at letting his message speak through all the PR BS. Boring race early on but the rain did the trick.

    Hope Susan keeps gathering strength.

  2. Thanks for blogging.

  3. Bruce Waine Says:

    George – Congradulations are in order.

    You picked Malukas to win.

    It would appear the your jinks has turned around and did not hamper Malukas from finishing second.

    And for the next two races ?

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