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IndyCar Gateway

Newgarden eliminated from IndyCar title race after St Louis exit

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden fell out of the IndyCar Series title race at St Louis on Sunday when his quest to sweep the season’s oval track races ended in the wall.

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Newgarden needed to stay within 108 points of series dominator Alex Palou to stay in mathematical contention and looked good early on when he led 98 laps of the race from his inherited pole position.

But Palou’s Chip Ganassi Racing team-mate Scott Dixon used an alternate pit strategy to turn the race on its head, the Kiwi pitting three times to the five of the majority of his rivals.

In his attempts to close the gap, Newgarden hit the wall at Turn 2 after getting on the marbles while trying to regain his track position with 50 laps to go.

Although he drove back to the pits, his suspension was too badly damaged to continue and he was classified 25th for the second race in succession, following his opening lap crash at Indianapolis two weeks ago.

“I was just trying to catch up,” Newgarden told NBC. “I knew we were going to lose to someone on fuel save, most likely Dixon or somebody – even if they yellow came out I think we were behind.

“I was just trying to get through cars as quickly as I could after I pitted and it didn’t work out. I got into the marbles and just a touch too high. I was trying… I was trying to catch up and it ended up not being a good move.

“The team did a great job, I can’t thank the team enough for all their efforts this weekend, it just didn’t work out.

“We put together a good car and a good race and it just didn’t work out, so we’ll go to the next one.”

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Honda

Photo by: Josh Tons / Motorsport Images

Dixon is now the only driver who can overhaul Palou in the final two races of the season at Portland and Laguna Seca.

“We won’t lift until we’re totally out of it,” said Dixon of the 74-point deficit. “I know everyone in this team does a tremendous job, to be 1-2 in this championship right now, it’s such a great year.

“It’s a shame that our wins came later in the season but we’ll keep pushing. It might get a little tense between the team here! But we’ll keep working hard as a team and see what we’ve got in the next two races.”

On the subject of his stunning strategic victory, from 16th on the grid following a nine-place penalty for an engine change, he added: “So proud of the team. We took a pretty good grid penalty today with one of those [engine] changes.

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“We had to go the alternate route and it worked out perfectly, it was hard to keep the tyres on but this team is perfect, they gave me the [fuel] number I needed to be getting, so massive thanks to everyone.

“And how about that Honda [fuel] mileage?”

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