Newgarden looked to the inside of Team Penske-Chevrolet teammate Power at the drop of the green but the polesitter could take more momentum around the outside and retained his lead. Behind them, O’Ward did a great job to leap around the outside and send his Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet from seventh to third, repelling a retaliatory attempt by Takuma Sato of Dale Coyne Racing w/RWR-Honda.
Behind them ran Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet’s Conor Daly, Scott McLaughlin (Penske), Jack Harvey (Rahal Letterman Lanigan-Honda) and Felix Rosenqvist (AMSP). Another driver making strong progress, as in Race 1, was Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda’s championship leader Marcus Ericsson, up from 15th to ninth ahead of ECR’s Rinus VeeKay.
On Lap 19 , Rosenqvist moved into seventh ahead of Harvey, and a couple of laps later one of the stars of Saturday’s race, Jimmie Johnson, passed Colton Herta for 12th. The Andretti Autosport driver had started nine places lower than he started because of a penalty for an early engine change.
Ericsson dived down the inside of Harvey to grab eighth on Lap 25, and Harvey also swiftly lost spots to VeeKay, Romain Grosjean, Johnson and the Coyne/HMD car of rookie David Malukas. Rosenqvist and Ericsson had demoted Daly to seventh by Lap 33, and the ECR driver dropped down the field.
Up front, the gap between Power and Newgarden was concertina-ing in and out between half a second and 1.2sec according to the backmarker situation.
Scott Dixon had made a cautious start from his 18th grid slot but as first pitstops approached, he was up to 13th, ahead of champion teammate Alex Palou. In fact, Palou was having a torrid day, lapped by the two leading Penskes by Lap 50, who had also pulled seven seconds on O’Ward. Palou pitted on Lap 58.
Dixon and Herta were the next expected frontrunners to pit , while O’Ward pitted on Lap 64. A lap later, Power and Newgarden pitted together, left together, getting exceedingly close on pit exit, with the #12 retaining its lead. As they settled down again up front their margin to O’Ward was down to 5 sec. Johnson’s stop, six laps earlier, ahd seen him vault into fourth, ahead of Ericsson, McLaughlin, Dixon, Rosenqvist, Herta and VeeKay.
The pass for the lead from Newgarden came on Lap 85, as Power came up to lap Grosjean. Power tried to force Newgarden low, but the dirty air from Grosjean, while it gave him a draft, it then compromised his car through the turns, and when he washed out wide, Newgarden was into the lead.
Ericsson claimed fourth from teammate Johnson just before one-third distance of this 300-lap race but he was 15sec behind Newgarden.
VeeKay had an alarming double twitch on the lowline at Turn 4 that allowed Herta and Malukas into the Top 10, prompting ECR to call its Dutch ace to the pits for new Firestones.
On Lap 120, Kirkwood struck the wall at Turn 2 on his 119th lap and out came the first caution of the day, the AJ Foyt Racing-Chevy having run high to allow leader Newgarden and VeeKay through.
Newgarden, Power, O’Ward and Ericsson pitted as soon as the pits opened, and got out without problem in the same order but now bunched together. When the remainder pitted, #3 Penske crew jumped McLaughlin got their guy out ahead of Johnson who then also lost a spot to Dixon on the restart.
At that same restart, O’Ward rebuffed a passing attempt by Ericsson, and then immediately started attacking Power, briefly passing him by a fraction but unable to make it stick. Behind Johnson, it was the second AMSP car of Rosenqvist, Grosjean and Herta completing the Top 10. Ahead of Johnson, Dixon moved past McLaughlin for fifth, and the sophomore then lost two places to Rosenqvist and Johnson, the Swede having jumped ahead of the NASCAR legend.
Herta started falling down the field from Lap 175, losing spots to Sato, Callum Ilott of Juncos Hollinger Racing and Malukas.
Leader Newgarden had an alarming moment on Lap 183 when he got caught in the dirty air of Malukas, and Power closed to within a couple of tenths, but the leader re-gathered his thoughts and extended his lead to 1sec again.
On Lap 193, McLaughlin ducked into the pits, and even more significantly, O’Ward hit pitlane on Lap 194. That prompted the two Penske leaders to come in next time by, and soon Dixon followed suit.
Just as in yesterday’s race, that slightly earlier stop – and a great in-lap by O’Ward – ensured he jumped Power to become Newgarden’s prime challenger. Stopping even earlier, had ensured McLaughin was up into fourth, ahead of Ericsson who then also lost out to Dixon to run just ahead of Johnson.
Behind, the three-car Ganassi train ran the impressive Ilott, ahead of Rosenqvist, Grosjean, Herta and Sato. Malukas then passed both his teammate and Herta to take 11th, and on Lap 228 Rosenqvist moved past Ilott for eighth.
Then suddenly on his 235th lap, a failure at the right-rear of the car sent Newgarden spinning hard into the wall, thankfully without hurt to the driver. The caution sent everyone into the pits, and they emerged in the order of O’Ward, Power, Dixon, McLaughlin, Ericsson, Johnson, Grosjean, Heta, Malukas and Ilott.
The green flag waved at the start of Lap 250, and McLaughlin moved past Dixon into third, while Johnson passed Ericsson around the outside to grab fifth, although he had to survive some alarming moments on tires not quite up to temperature in order to stay there.
Over the final stint, O’Ward eked out his gap to Power, who was doing the same to McLaughlin, who was doing the same to Dixon. Ericsson passed Johnson for fifth, but Johnson wouldn’t let him go. And they started battling hard.
The Dale Coyne Racing duo of Sato and Malukas endured a torrid battle with each other and also with Herta. But Rosenqvist passed them both and Grosjean to take seventh with six laps to go.
O’Ward crossed the line 4.25sec ahead of Power, who was 5.2sec clear of McLaughlin. Ganassi finished 4-5-6, Johnson allowed to stay ahead of Ericsson despite it causing the Indy 500 winner’s points lead to shrink to eight. Rosenqvist, Malukas, Grosjean and Sato completed the Top 10 with Ilott a creditable 11th ahead of Herta.
|1||Patricio O'Ward||Arrow McLaren SP||300||1:54'23.2097||146.443||4|
|2||Will Power||Team Penske||300||1:54'27.4573||4.2476||146.019||4|
|3||Scott McLaughlin||Team Penske||300||1:54'32.6561||9.4464||149.229||4|
|4||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||300||1:54'34.3596||11.1499||149.472||4|
|5||Jimmie Johnson||Chip Ganassi Racing||300||1:54'35.5348||12.3251||149.544||4|
|6||Marcus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing||300||1:54'37.4437||14.2340||149.689||4|
|7||Felix Rosenqvist||Arrow McLaren SP||300||1:54'40.8984||17.6887||149.389||4|
|8||David Malukas||Dale Coyne Racing||300||1:54'41.5822||18.3725||149.644||4|
|9||Romain Grosjean||Andretti Autosport||300||1:54'42.7673||19.5576||148.386||4|
|10||Takuma Sato||Dale Coyne Racing||300||1:54'43.9422||20.7325||145.808||4|
|11||Callum Ilott||Juncos Hollinger Racing||300||1:54'44.7027||21.4930||146.672||4|
|12||Colton Herta||Andretti Autosport||299||1:54'26.4217||1 Lap||143.680||4|
|13||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing||299||1:54'40.5555||1 Lap||149.285||4|
|14||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||299||1:54'41.3559||1 Lap||149.085||4|
|15||Devlin DeFrancesco||Andretti Autosport||298||1:54'32.2849||2 Laps||150.265||4|
|16||Conor Daly||Ed Carpenter Racing||298||1:54'33.9342||2 Laps||148.875||4|
|17||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing||297||1:54'40.3549||3 Laps||149.737||6|
|18||Alexander Rossi||Andretti Autosport||296||1:54'25.7926||4 Laps||148.131||5|
|19||Rinus van Kalmthout||Ed Carpenter Racing||296||1:54'31.8243||4 Laps||149.797||5|
|20||Jack Harvey||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||296||1:54'38.9620||4 Laps||148.330||4|
|21||Helio Castroneves||Meyer Shank Racing||295||1:54'26.7255||5 Laps||145.492||6|
|22||Dalton Kellett||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||294||1:54'39.5606||6 Laps||150.445||5|
|23||Simon Pagenaud||Meyer Shank Racing||281||1:54'30.3943||19 Laps||149.710||6|
|24||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||235||1:31'49.2703||65 Laps||8.659||3||Accident|
|25||Kyle Kirkwood||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||117||41'24.8490||183 Laps||148.771||1||Accident|
|26||Christian Lundgaard||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||112||39'41.2876||188 Laps||98.225||2||Mechanical|
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