Can Team Penske rebound in Gateway? Championship chances rely on that

Team Penske is coming off of a bad Month of August at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. They’ve got some work to do in going for their fourth IndyCar championship in the last five years. If they’re going to win though, they have to beat Scott Dixon and his Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. They sit 2-4-9 in the standings trailing Dixon by 84, 123 and 160 points respectively.

With two chances on the World Wide Technology Raceway oval this weekend, this could be the spot where they can close the gap at least.

See, Penske started 4-for-4 at Gateway. Then, Takuma Sato stole the win for Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing last year. Penske has swept another short oval at Iowa last month, so they have to be the favorites to land in victory lane in both races this weekend even coming off of the Indy disappointment.

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Newgarden leads his Penske teammate of Will Power in last year’s Indy Car race in Gateway

That’s good news for their trio of drivers. But, can they capitalize?

“The Indianapolis 500 was really tough,” Simon Pagenaud said. “We had some really bad luck, but we’re excited for a chance to turn that around this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway in the Menards Chevy.

“With two races this weekend, we have two chances to run hard and try and get more championship points. We lost some momentum after the last race, but we still have a shot at it, so we’re going to race hard.

“Gateway is a really fun little oval that is really fun to race at. I know my guys are working hard turning around the car from Indy for this weekend, and I know they’re putting something great together.”

Scott Dixon is 0-for-4 at Gateway with two top 10’s, both being podiums and both being in the last three years. He was only 20th last year though. Dixon, also lacked the race winning pace at Iowa last month as well. He does have five top two finishes in seven tries this season as well though.

Josef Newgarden won this race in 2017 but was only seventh in each of the last two years. Pagenaud has a top five finish in all three tries at Gateway but just one podium, a third in ’16.

Could this open the door for someone else?

Will Power won this race in 2017 but was only 20th and 22nd in his other two starts, both ending in crashes.

So, can Penske claim a stake at the championship table this weekend? Do they get to be at the head of the table by time the checkered flag falls on Sunday?

Newgarden says that stuff they learned from Indy will get a shot in his Gateway car.

“I’m really excited for Gateway,” said t defending series champion. “While Indy was a really tough race, we had a decent finish, but it just wasn’t our year. We had a really strong car and learned a few things we’re going to try on the Hitachi Chevy this weekend at Gateway.

“It’s a much smaller oval than Indianapolis, so it can be a tricky race, and this weekend is a doubleheader, so we’ll have two chances to win there. We really need a solid weekend to keep racking up points for the championship, so that will be a huge focus for us.”

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