Defending series champion Josef Newgarden kept his slim title hopes alive in the NTT IndyCar Series with a victory Sunday at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

Newgarden seized first after the final green-flag pit stop sequence with 43 laps remaining after teammate Will Power lost the lead while caught in slower traffic entering the pits.

After beating Pato O’Ward out of the pits on his final stop on Lap 151, Newgarden cycled into the lead on Lap 157 of 200 and led the rest of the way.

.@JosefNewgarden and @PatricioOWard race on the warm-up lane off pit road!

Newgarden beats him! Less than 50 to go on NBCSN. #INDYCAR pic.twitter.com/gLuPKULa4W

— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) August 30, 2020

“This was all a pit stop victory for me,” Newgarden told NBCSN pit reporter Kevin Lee. “My guys have been amazing in the pits. They’ve put me in position every time. It was really fun racing Pato out of the pit. That was for the win side by side out of pit exit. HE did an amazing job. He’s going to do great things in this sport.

“It was just all down to my team. I’m really proud of my team. They won the race. I didn’t win it; they won it.”

O’Ward finished second after placing third Saturday at Gateway and remained a solid third in the points standings behind Scott Dixon and Newgarden.

“Man, we had a great weekend,” said O’Ward, who matched a career-best runner-up at Road America last month. “Our objective was to score two podiums (this weekend), and we did that. It would have been great to score a win. I know we’re so close. We’re knocking on the door, man. We’re going to keep pushing.”

Said Power, who remained winless this season: “I felt we had the car to win. Obviously it’s a traffic game. The car was really strong today. We had great stops. Great car. The strategy certainly didn’t work out at the end. Still very happy to get a podium. We certainly have had a lot of potential this year. Very strange year.”

It was the 16th career victory and second this season for Newgarden, who also won last month at Iowa Speedway. It’s also the Team Penske driver’s second triumph at Gateway, where he won in 2017.

With five races expected to be remaining this season, Newgarden still faces a triple-digit points deficit to Dixon, who was fifth Sunday and has won four of the season’s first nine races (including Saturday at Gateway). The two-time series champion had lost 33 points to Dixon with a 12th in Saturday’s race.

“We can’t give up on it yet,” Newgarden said. “Yesterday was a pretty big blow. We’ve been bitten by bad luck this year, and the yellows have gone against us probably three or four out of eight races.

“Sometimes it comes your way, sometimes it doesn’t, but that’s racing. You have to hopefully get on a good cycle, and maybe this will be a good kick-start for the end of the season for us.”

The race ended under caution when Takuma Sato hit the wall while running in the top 10 with three laps remaining. Rookie Rinus VeeKay took fourth after starting 18th.

Tony Kanaan finished 19th in the last scheduled race for the 2004 series champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner, who has said he wants to race at the Brickyard and select other races next year.

“There is no way this is his last @IndyCar race.”@TownsendBell says @TonyKanaan isn’t going to go out like this. #Indy500? pic.twitter.com/QMD0lp22GX

— IndyCar on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) August 30, 2020

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