Notebook: Newgarden has the lead but others lurking

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The objects in Josef Newgarden’s championship mirror are growing larger with each NTT IndyCar Series race.

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon (second place in Sunday’s ABC Supply 500) and Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud (third place) finished ahead of Newgarden (fifth place), enabling them to draw nearer in the season points chase.

With three races to go, Newgarden leads Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi by 35 points, Pagenaud by 40 and Dixon by 52.

There are still more than 400 laps left to determine which driver will receive the 2019 Astor Cup, and it’s worth noting that Newgarden, Pagenaud and Dixon have the experience of winning an INDYCAR title – Dixon has won five season championships, the second-most in the sport’s history. Rossi was last year’s runner-up to Dixon.

So, buckle up. This looks to be a battle to the finish.

Pagenaud the king of the big tracks in 2019

No, Simon Pagenaud didn’t win Sunday’s race, but he and the crew of Team Penske’s No. 22 Chevrolet showed extraordinary strength this season at the two 2.5-mile ovals: Winning the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge from the pole and appearing dominant at Pocono Raceway for most of the race before settling for a third-place finish.

Combining the two races, the Frenchman led 180 of 328 laps (54.9 percent). Although it was teammate Will Power who hoisted the ABC Supply 500 trophy, Pagenaud genuinely seemed pleased with where his program stands.

“I think we showed our cars were the strongest,” he said.

Ferrucci’s future is bright – and so is his present

Santino Ferrucci’s rookie season continues to be the talk of the NTT IndyCar Series. Sunday, Dale Coyne Racing’s driver posted his second fourth-place finish of the year, the other coming at Texas Motor Speedway.

Ferrucci, 21, has completed all but four of the laps this season – the most by any INDYCAR driver – and has an average finish of 6.75 on the four oval tracks, which ranks fifth in points scored.

Of his Pocono finish, the driver of the No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda said: “I think we definitely had a top three in us, and we were fighting for a chance to win the race at one point.”

Up Next

The Bommarito Automotive Group 500 will be held the evening of Saturday, Aug. 24, at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. Television coverage will begin on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET with the green flag set for 8:45 p.m. Live radio broadcasts will be available on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio (XM 209, Sirius 98, Internet/App 970).

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