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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.”


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Will Power battled back from a lap down today to win the Pocono Raceway for the second straight year.

The driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet held off teammate Josef Newgarden by 0.5268 of a second to pick up his third win of the Verizon Indy Car Series season.

It is also Power’s 32nd career Indy car win, breaking a three-way tie with retired greats Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy for ninth place on the all-time list.

Power was running in sixth place when he made an unscheduled green-flag pit stop on Lap 66 to replace a front wing assembly. It put the 2014 series champion a lap down, but Power worked his way back onto the lead lap just past the halfway point of the 200-lap race on the 2.5-mile, three-turn oval.

He led for the first time on Lap 154 benefited from a lightning-quick pit stop on Lap 177 that brought him back on track ahead of the other front-runners. When leader Marco Andretti had to stop for fuel 10 laps from the finish, Power regained first place and held off the charges of Newgarden and Alexander Rossi over the final 10 laps.

By finishing second in the No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Chevrolet, Newgarden retained the championship lead with three races remaining in the 17-race season. Newgarden holds an unofficial 18-point lead over Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon, who finished sixth today in the No. 9 NTT Data Honda.

Helio Castroneves is third in points, 22 behind Newgarden, after finishing seventh in the race in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.

Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Simon Pagenaud finished fourth in the race and holds down fourth in the season standings, 26 points behind Newgarden. With the win, Power moved into fifth in the championship, 42 points out of the lead.

The Verizon IndyCar Series is in action on Saturday, Aug. 26 with the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline at Gateway Motorsports Park.



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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.”


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Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay has been cleared to drive in today's Pocono 500 following a crash Saturday during qualifying for the race.

Dr. Geoffrey Billows, INDYCAR Medical Director, re-evaluated Hunter-Reay this morning after the driver of the No. 28 DHL Honda sustained injuries to his left knee and hip in the Turn 3 crash on his warmup lap prior to making a qualifying attempt Saturday at Pocono Raceway.

Hunter-Reay was transported by ground to Lehigh Valley Hospital - Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pennsylvania, after the incident for further evaluation. He was checked and released but not cleared to drive at that time, pending the follow-up evaluation by Dr. Billows today.

Hunter-Reay will start 21st in today's 500-mile race in the No. 28 DHL Honda. The team has prepared a backup car for him to race.

Takuma Sato, Hunter-Reay's teammate at Andretti Autosport, will start from the pole in the No. 26 Honda