Hitting the Apex: Bonmarito Automotive Group 500

With the last oval track of the season, ATRL’s Eline Luna takes a look at World Wide Technology Raceway this weekend.

Eline Luna

August 26, 2023

World Wide Technology Raceway, more commonly referred to by its previous name: ‘Gateway’ is the last oval track of this season. The egg-like shape of the track is reminiscent of that of the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan.

The first major event at the track was a CART series race in 1997, a day before that year’s Indy 500 which was hosted by the series’ rival IRL (Indy Racing League). In 2001 IRL started racing at the track in place of CART but the last race was in 2003. In 2017 the track returned and IndyCar has raced there ever since and will race there for the next few years.

James Black/Penske Entertainment

The track is unlike any other ovals on the calendar. Something special this year is that IndyCar has decided to bring the alternate tyres to an oval for the first time ever. This means that during the race drivers and their teams can choose between the Firestone Black (Primary) and Firestone Red (Alternate) tyres. It’s mandatory to use both during the race which brings an extra interesting strategy element that we haven’t seen yet on ovals. 

It won’t be different for the start as it is mandated to start on the primary tyres this weekend. Qualifying isn’t allowed on alternate tyres either as there is one set reserved for practice and one for the race. 

Tyre degradation is key on this track, as a driver it is easy to overdo your tyres which makes the end of a stint extremely difficult.

Driver Moves

Jack Harvey is out of a seat as RLL replaces him with Conor Daly amid worries about the leaders circle. Conor Daly is only confirmed for this weekend, whoever is driving the car during the last two rounds is yet to be announced.

Conor Daly was initially dropped by Ed Carpenter Racing earlier this season. He returned to the driving seat three times after that, all replacing the still injured Simon Pagenaud at Mid-Ohio and both Iowa races. Now he races for his third team this season at his speciality, an oval.

Linus Lundqvist stays with MSR and will make his oval debut this weekend as Pagenaud is still yet to recover from a crash at Mid-Ohio. His two previous race weekends so far have been mighty impressive as Lundqvist managed to advance to the top 12 qualifying session during his first weekend. and finished twelfth at IMS earlier this month.

Championship Fight

The championship fight is as good as over, Alex Palou leads the championship by 101 points over teammate Scott Dixon, who is closely followed by Josef Newgarden only 4 points behind. This weekend at Gateway he could clinch the championship with only two races to go which is something nearly unheard of in IndyCar. He would only need to extend his lead by 8 points as there are 108 points up for grabs in the final two races. However, the odds are not necessarily in his favour this weekend as all oval races this season have been won by Josef Newgarden. Nevertheless his championship seems like a done deal.

James Black/Penske Entertainment

Track Information

  • Race Length: 260 Laps | 325 miles
  • Turns: 4
  • Track Length: 1.250 miles (2.012 km)
  • Most Wins: Josef Newgarden (4)
  • Race lap record: 0:24.6317 (Josef Newgarden, 2017)

Past Gateway winners:

2022: Josef Newgarden

2021: Josef Newgarden

2020: Scott Dixon (R1), Josef Newgarden (R2)

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eline follows a variety of motorsports from Formula E to IMSA to Nascar to WEC. They hope to study Mechanical Engineering to work in motorsports one day.

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