Josef Newgarden had a quiet GP weekend. His car was good, but not great and he started 6th, but made his way up to 4th. If he could finish there, this would be a good points haul to keep him in the championship lead. He was behind Sebastian Bourdais (3rd in points and in the race), but ahead of his immediate title rival Alexander Rossi.
But then JoNew got greedy and he spun in Turn 9 trying to pass Bourdais. Newgarden clipped the inside curb and looped the car, stalling the engine when he hit the brakes. His stalled car brought out the full course yellow with 27 laps to go. At this point, the pit window was around 22 laps. It would be possible to make it all the way on the fuel in the tank, but it would require some smart fuel saving.
In IndyCar you can lean out the fuel map a bit, but the real key to fuel savings is coast into the corners and carry momentum. Unlike Formula 1, there is no concern about tire temperature or tire wear, so punishing the tires to save gas works really well. Drafting is also important on a track like the Indianapolis road course since there are two long straights and obviously letting another car cut the air for you reduces the load on the engine and therefore the amount of fuel burned.
The absolute master of saving gas and going fast is Scott Dixon. Dixon has won many races by saving more fuel than anybody and still banging out fast laps. Smart strategy and even smarter driving got Dixon all the way from 18th up to 3rd before the yellow. Dixon was able to get around Wickens after the restart and make it up to second. Nobody could believe it, least of all Dixon!
As if that wasn’t enough, the clouds overhead were getting darker and starting to sprinkle. Rain AND fuel saving? The race is on!
Try as they might, nobody was a match for Will Power. He would take his second IndyCar GP in a row, and third in four years. After a mess of a 2018 season, nabbing the checkered flag was exactly the result Will needed to get his season back on track.