Sonoma, Calif – You can point to a number of different scenarios throughout the course of any season to why a champion was crowned and one wasn’t. But, for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, “the pass” at Gateway on August 26 turned out to be the biggest moment in this season and decided how the championship would play out.
If you don’t remember the pass, let me remind you.
Simon Pagenaud was well on his way to win the race at Gateway Motorsports Park that night. Instead, with 30 laps-to-go, Josef Newgarden forced his way by him for the lead, which in turn not only was the winning move of the race, but the championship winning move as well.
The contact in Turn 1 between the two forced Pagenaud up the track and allowed Scott Dixon to get by for second. Pagenaud would finish third as a result.
There would in-turn be some bad blood between the two that night with Pagenaud basically saying Newgarden had no respect for him. They’d later talk it out, but that was the pivotal moment in this year’s championship.
For the win that night, Newgarden received 53 championship points, Pagenaud 36. That’s a 17 point differential.
The final standings?
Newgarden beat Pagenaud by 13.
That’s the difference in this championship. Pagenaud improved in top fives (13-10) and top 10’s 15-12) from his championship winning season last year, as well as completing 100-percent of the laps this season, but he still lost the title.
That’s the pass that will go down as one of INDYCAR’s signature moment of not just the year, but of a decade.