Newgarden’s Middle Maneuver Leads To St. Pete Victory In End


24 May 2019

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – When Josef Newgarden ran longer, harder and faster in a middle stint of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, it paid off with victory at the end.
Newgarden kicked off the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season victorious by 2.8998 seconds over reigning series champion Scott Dixon. It was the 11th triumph of Newgarden’s eight-year NTT IndyCar Series career but first on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street course that incorporates a runway of Albert Whitted Airport.
“I feel like we executed today,” Newgarden said. “We were very patient in the beginning of the race. We had a right-to-left, different tire strategy again today, and it really paid off. I actually think it's what helped us create the opportunity.
“We found our footing (in Saturday qualifying) and finished it off right today.”

FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG:
The win by Newgarden extended Team Penske’s run of success at St. Petersburg to nine victories in the event’s 16-race history. It was also the 204th win all time by the Indy car team, most in the sport, and returned Chevrolet atop the podium after the engine supplier went winless on temporary street circuits last season.
Newgarden started the 110-lap race second in the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet behind teammate and NTT P1 Award pole sitter Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Content to run in the top three early on, Newgarden made the decisive move by extending his second race stint one to five laps longer than the other frontrunners. It allowed the Tennessean to lay down key quicker laps on an open track, so that when he pitted for fuel and tires on Lap 55, Newgarden returned to the action in first place and on a new set of Firestone alternate tires while his nearest competitors were on the harder primary tires.
The 2017 NTT IndyCar Series champion led 59 of the final 60 laps, pushing the advantage to more than seven seconds before Dixon trimmed the gap near the finish.
“When we went out on brand new reds (alternate tires), we were able to open up a huge chunk,” Newgarden said. “It was just really good timing and positioning, and once we established that gap, it was about managing it, really. We didn't have to blow it wide open and we didn't need to see it shrink too quickly, but we let it seesaw back and forth how it needed to.”
Power led 17 early laps before finishing third. It’s the 71st time the 2014 series champion and reigning Indianapolis 500 winner has been on the podium in a 15-year career.

“Definitely a lot better points here than I’ve done in the past two years, so I’m really happy about that,” said Power, who finished 10th last year at St. Pete, 19th in 2017 and didn’t race in 2016 due to illness. “We put ourselves in a really tough position pitting early there.
“I just kind of did my best to maintain a third-place finish. I got more points than the last two years so we’re in the game (for the championship).”
The race was slowed by two early full-course caution periods, tying for the fewest in race history. The first came on Lap 20 when Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay suffered a mechanical failure in the No. 28 DHL Honda on the frontstretch.
The second caution occurred on Lap 26 when Ed Jones hit the wall in Turn 9 in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Chevrolet and Matheus Leist clipped Jones’ car while racing past in the No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet. Both cars were eliminated in the incident and Jones sustained a small non-displaced fracture of the distal fourth metacarpal in his left ring finger, according to Dr. Geoffrey Billows, INDYCAR medical director. Jones had the finger splinted and is scheduled to see a hand surgeon, but it is expected that proper splinting will permit him to continue participating in racing activities.
Sunday’s race is the first of a diverse and demanding 17-race NTT IndyCar Series schedule this season. Newgarden takes a 13-point lead over Dixon to the next event, the INDYCAR Classic at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, March 24.

Indycar.com



Bommarito Automotive Group 500


30 August 2018

Will Power went from worst to first at Gateway Motorsports Park in the span of a year and moved into closer contention for the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series championship in the process.


Charging hard from the start, Power took control over the final 100 laps of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline on Saturday (25 August) night to pick up his third win of the season. He guided the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet across the finish line 1.3117 seconds ahead of Alexander Rossi for the 35th victory of his career to tie Bobby Unser for seventh most in Indy car history.


The triumph came a year after Power completed just five laps at Gateway before a crash ended his night and title hopes. Saturday’s victory lifted the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion to third in the standings and within 68 points of leader Scott Dixon, who finished third in the race. Rossi, with his third straight podium finish following a pair of wins, maintained second in the championship and crept within 26 points of Dixon with two races remaining.


James Hinchcliffe passed Dixon for first place on Lap 150 of 248 on the 1.25-mile oval. The 37-year-old Australian then zoomed away to a gap of more than seven seconds before making his final pit stop for a splash of ethanol 18 laps from the end, surrendering the lead back to Dixon.


Power regained the lead on Lap 240 after Dixon and other drivers made their last stops for fuel. Rossi, attempting to complete the race in one less pit stop – as he did in winning the 2016 Indy 500 and four weeks ago at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, nursed his No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda home in second place for his eighth podium finish of 2018.


With the victory, Power joined Dixon, Rossi and Josef Newgarden as three-time winners this season. Power swept the May races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the road course and 102nd Indianapolis 500 on the oval – but Saturday’s win was his first with team owner Roger Penske calling the race strategy.


Dixon led 145 laps from the pole position in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda and earned his eighth top-three result of 2018. The four-time series champion has seen his lead shrink from 62 to 26 points over the past three races despite finishing in the top five each time.


Newgarden, the reigning series champion and defending Gateway winner, finished seventh in the race and fell to fourth in the standings, 78 points behind Dixon. Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 series champion, finished 20th when mechanical issues parked his No. 28 DHL Honda after 172 laps. At 147 points behind Dixon, Hunter-Reay is fifth in the standings and the only other driver with a mathematical chance to win the championship.


The next Verizon IndyCar Series race is the Grand Prix of Portland on Sept. 2, marking Indy car racing’s return to Portland International Raceway for the first time since 2007.


www.indycar.com



Road America, Wisconsin


26 June 2018

ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – He made it look easy, but Josef Newgarden said winning the KOHLER Grand Prix was anything but that on Sunday.


The reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion led all but two laps to claim victory at the iconic Road America circuit. Driving the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Newgarden won by 3.3759 seconds over Ryan Hunter-Reay to pick up his third victory of the 2018 season and 10th of his seven-year career.


Starting from the pole position after winning the Verizon P1 Award in qualifying on Saturday, Newgarden led the first 13 laps on the 14-turn, 4.014-mile permanent road course until making his first pit stop. Scott Dixon, the points leader driving the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, led two laps before also stopping, with Newgarden reassuming first place and never relinquishing it the rest of the way.


Newgarden wound up leading 53 of the 55 laps to give Team Penske its fifth win at Road America and victory No. 202 for the team in 51 years of Indy car competition. The race ran caution-free for the ninth time at Road America and first since 2000, with Newgarden’s speed average of 132.101 mph establishing a race record.


Hunter-Reay, in the No. 28 DHL Honda, secured his best Road America finish in five tries with the runner-up finish. It moved the Andretti Autosport driver into second place in the championship after 10 of 17 races, trailing Dixon by 45 points.


Dixon, the four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2017 winner at Road America, recovered from his worst starting position in five starts at the track (eighth) to finish third.
Two championship front-runners suffered issues that saddled them with disappointing finishes. Will Power, winner of the 102nd Indianapolis 500 last month, had a mechanical issue at the start, completing just two laps in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet and finishing last in the 23-car


Alexander Rossi was running fourth when he was forced to pit with a front suspension issue on the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda with 17 laps remaining. The Andretti Autosport driver finished 16th.


The standings after 10 of 17 races have Dixon in the lead with 393 points, followed by Hunter-Reay (348), Rossi (348), Newgarden (343), Power (328), Graham Rahal (278), Robert Wickens (274), Simon Pagenaud (255), Sebastien Bourdais (235) and Marco Andretti (232).


The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action Sunday, July 8 with the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway.

Indycar.com



Indianapolis 500


29 May 2018

Will Power finally reaped the reward for containing the emotions that had once beguiled him. And then he let them loose to liven the celebration.


The 37-year-old Australian controlled the final quarter of the 102nd Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on Sunday but didn’t hold the lead for good until Stefan Wilson and Jack Harvey were forced to abandon a fuel conservation play in the final laps, allowing Power to give owner Roger Penske his record 17th win in the Verizon IndyCar Series’ greatest event.


For a driver who has seen championships and Indianapolis wins fade away under circumstances either bizarre or because of admitted lapses, the 2014 season champion – as has been his aim in recent seasons – was calm and methodical in victory. That is, until he reached victory circle for a manic celebration with his team and wife, Liz. The couple hugged and screamed joyously, almost disbelievingly, at each other.


Pole sitter Ed Carpenter finished second, 3.1589 seconds back despite leading a race-high 65 laps, followed by former Indy 500 winners Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
In the first superspeedway oval use of the universal aerodynamic body kit for both Chevrolet and Honda, 15 different drivers led on Sunday, tying an Indy 500 record set last season. The new kit changed the tone of the event, as predicted by drivers, with turbulent air in traffic, aggressiveness on restarts and handling in corners becoming a critical factor. The advantage of stalking and sling-shotting past a leader was eliminated.


The puckishness of the new kits was dramatically illustrated by veterans Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais, among several, whose races were truncated by spins through corners that ended in contact with the SAFER Barrier.


Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato lasted just 46 laps in defense of his 2017 Indy 500 victory, plowing into the back of a laboring James Davison in Turn 3. Davison had struggled with control throughout the race in the No. 33 Jonathan Byrd’s 502 East Chevrolet for the Foyt with Byrd-Hollinger-Belardi team.


Sato cited high closing rates in the incident and said he was powerless to avoid it once he came within proximity of an “air pocket” behind Davison’s car.


Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ed Jones lost control coming out of Turn 2 and spun into the wall on Lap 58, mashing the right side of his Honda. He was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital complaining of neck pain, was later released but will be re-examined before being cleared to drive.


Patrick had returned to Indianapolis to conclude her career at the epicenter of the fame that made it so notable. As a rookie in 2005, she became the first female to lead laps in the Indianapolis 500, finishing what was then a gender-best fourth. Patrick was third in the 500 in 2009.


This was not what she imagined. The 30th-place finish was the worst of her career at the Indianapolis 500, a stark contrast to the six top-10s she produced in her previous seven starts from 2005-11.
Just laps after leading on a pit cycle, Bourdais lost control on Lap 139 and backed the No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda into the SAFER Barrier in Turns 3 and 4. Bourdais’ caution period allowed race leader Power and pole sitter Carpenter to reach the 200-lap distance on one more pit stop in what became a strategy-jumbling final third of the race.


The 500 lost another nostalgic storyline on the ensuing restart as veteran Castroneves, in his ninth attempt to capture a record-tying fourth Indianapolis 500 victory, crashed similarly out of Turn 4. Hunter-Reay plied through tire smoke to barely avoid contact as Castroneves skidded hard backward into an interior SAFER Barrier.


A frustrated Castroneves, who moved to Team Penske’s sports car team full time this season but returned to run the INDYCAR Grand Prix and Indy 500 this month, implored team owner Roger Penske to let him try again next May.


Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner, brought out the last of seven caution flags when he spun and crashed off Turn 2 on Lap 189. The restart came with eight laps to go and Power trailing Oriol Servia, Wilson and Harvey. All three were lean on fuel, however, and when Wilson and Harvey had to stop for a splash of ethanol four laps from the finish, the track was clear for Power to drive to the victory.


The win allowed Power to become the first driver to sweep both IMS races in a year, following his May 12 INDYCAR Grand Prix on the road course. With the race paying double points, it also put Power into the championship lead after six races, two points up on Alexander Rossi (who finished fourth) and 10 ahead of Josef Newgarden (who finished eighth).


Close has marked Power’s career with Team Penske since he joined the team full time in 2010. He finished second in series points that season after leading the points into the final race, but crashing at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Dario Franchitti won the championship. Power led the standings again after the penultimate official race of the 2011 season but finished 19th at Kentucky Speedway and saw Franchitti win his third consecutive championship. In 2012, Power topped the standings entering the final at Auto Club Speedway, but an inexplicable crash left the title to Ryan Hunter-Reay. Power eventually finished off a championship in 2014.


The final box, the Indianapolis 500 box, remained bedevilling too, however. After Sunday, he’s led laps in his last six attempts, including his previous best of 23 in 2015, but was outdueled in a furious finish by teammate Juan Pablo Montoya. Power was second.


The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action with the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear, the only doubleheader race weekend on the schedule.
Indycar.com



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