WATKINS GLEN - Boy - what a difference a day makes.
Josef Newgarden began the Grand Prix at The Glen with a 31-point lead in the Verizon IndyCar points standings.
Following an issue leaving the pits on Lap 45 Sunday, Newgarden watched helplessly as that lead dropped to a mere three points at the race's conclusion.
After a normal pitstop, Newgarden locked up his front wheels exiting the pits, struck the outside retaining wall, then was rear-ended by Sebastien Bourdais, who was also coming out of the pits.
"Two mistakes at the end were just dagger(s) in the heart," Newgarden said. "I think I just made a mistake. Got wide on the exit there. I made a mistake in the pit box is what started it, I slid past my pit box and that made it difficult for the guys to give me a fast stop. So that was on me, and then I left the pit lane, thought I had beaten Will (Power), then he buttoned off real early and had a great launch.
"Then I was watching him and I think I just made another mistake. Too much wheel, too much speed with not enough grip on the tires, and into the wall it went, and a couple of guys went with me. Not a great mistake to make, feel bad for the guys, it’s my fault."
When the dust settled after the race, Newgarden finished 18th overall, but was still atop the IndyCar standings with 560 points.
Sunday's second place finisher Scott Dixon was next with 557 points. The four-time winner at The Glen - and four-time IndyCar champion showed little emotion heading into the series-ending race in Sonoma in two weeks.
"We'll treat the next week as another race," Dixon said. "I think you can't overcomplicate it. Obviously we want to win it. There's a lot on the line. But, you know, I think if you overthink things too much, then it ends up being a very bad thing."
Also within striking distance of the series championship will be Newgarden's Team Penske teammates Helio Castroneves, who finished fourth, and Simon Pagenaud, who placed ninth. Castroneves (538 points) is 22 points behind Newgarden, while Pagenaud (526) is 34 points back.
"I'll tell you what - I don't wish anyone any bad luck to anybody, because that comes back double to you," Castroneves said. "I will do everything I can to bring this championship home to Team Penske.
"Certainly it is a big battle right now. Obviously Scott (Dixon) is really close, but the good news is Sonoma is good track for Team Penske. Watch out."
Newgarden will look to rebound at the final race.
"We’ll go to Sonoma and try to be perfect there,” Newgarden said.