Dixon, Newgarden win at Gateway; Bowyer, Byron make NASCAR playoffs

(INDYCAR)—Defending INDYCAR champion Josef Newgarden, who drives with the number 1 on his car, isn’t going to give up that number easily.  Newgarden won the second of the INDYCAR doubleheader races at Gateway Motorsport Park in Madison, Illinois Sunday afternoon. The win helps him recover from a fifteenth place finish on Saturday.

Newgarden and rookie Pato O’Ward fought for the lead with laps winding down but Newgarden’s pit crew put him ahead of O’Ward on the last round of stops. His win pulls him to within 96 points of Dixon, who’s going for his sixth INDYCar title. Dixon won on Saturday.

O’Ward added a second-place finish Sunday to go with his third on Saturday. Will Power got the other podium finish.

Saturday’s race:

Scott Dixon became only the third driver in the entire history of INDYCAR racing to get to fifty wins and he’s done it by holding off Takuma Sato, the driver that beat him to the finish of the Indianapolis 500 a week ago.

Dixon’s fourth win of the season, at Gateway Motorsports Park just across the river from St. Louis  moves him to within two career victories of Mario Andretti. Only A. J. Foyt with 67 wins, has more than Dixon and Andretti.

Sato got past Pato O’Ward to take second place with twenty laps to go but couldn’t rundown Dixon, a revere of the circumstances last weekend at Indianapolis.

Dixon took the lead by beating O’Ward off of pit road and cycled into first place when Sato made his final stop.  Sato could get close but never enough for a passing move and trailed Dixon across the finish line by 0.1404 second. O’Ward was third.

The win gives Dixon a commanding 117-poit lead in the INDYCAR championshp points chase.

Sato was hoping to become the first driver in 23 years to win a race the weekend after winning the Indianapolis 500. Arie Luyendyk did it most recently, in 1997.

(NASCAR)—A pair of Cinderella stories played out Saturday night in NASCAR;’s final race of the regular season, but a sentimental favorite and his fans were left disappointed by the ending.

William Byron’s first Cup victory locked him to the playoffs as he, seven-tine champion Jimmie Johnson, and Matt DiBenedetto went into the race facing the possibility one of  them would be the odd man out.  Johnson became that person when his car was badly managed in the second “big one” in the last ten laps.

Clint Bowyer, who entered the race all but locked into the playoffs erased any doubt with a strong run in the first state of the race and then another one in the second stage. He was running third on the last restart but developed tire problems and wound up 19th.

Bowyer will enter the playoffs as the fourteenth seed.  Drivers making the round of sixteen other than Bowyer and Byron are regular season champion Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Martin Truex, Jr., Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon, Cole Custer, Aric Almirola, last year’s champion Kyle Busch—surprisingly winless so far this year—, his older brother Kurt, and DiBenedetto.

(FORMULA 1)—Where have we heard this before? Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Max Verstappen.  This weekend it was the Grant Prix of Belgium.  It was the same order at the second GP of Austria, and the GP of Spain. At Hungary, Verstappen and Bottas switched places behind Hamilton. In the second Grand Prix of Great Britain, Versappen got the upset win with Hamilton and Bottas behind.

Hamilton has won five times in the first seven F1 races this year. There are still a lot of races to be run but Hamilton is generally favored to win his seventh championship, tying Michael Schumacher.  Hamilton’s win at Spa-Francorchamps leaves him only two wins behind Schumacher’s F1 record of 91.  He started from pole for the 93rd time in his career, extending his own record. He led every lap.

(Photo Credits: Newgarden, Dixon–Bob Priddy at Gateway; Bowyer, NASCAR)

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