Josef Newgarden snapped his streak of late race misfortunes to win for the first time this season, earning the first IndyCar victory of the year for Team Penske on the same weekend the storied organization celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first win
LEXINGTON, Ohio — Josef Newgarden snapped his streak of late race misfortunes Sunday to win for the first time this season, earning the first IndyCar victory of the year for Team Penske on the same weekend the storied organization celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first win.
Newgarden led all but seven of the 80 laps Sunday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The two-time IndyCar champion dominated the two races leading into Sunday, but late yellows altered the outcome and denied Newgarden two trips to victory lane.
The American insisted nothing needed to change on the No. 2 Chevrolet team because the performance was just fine. After all, he had started from the pole and led 99 of 125 laps in the two races he lost after late restarts.
Now he’s led 172 of 205 laps — or 83.9% — over three races and finally put Team Penske in victory lane in the 10th race of the season. The last time the Penske organization went this late in the year without a victory was its 1999 winless season.
Team Penske on Saturday marked the 50th anniversary of its first IndyCar win, with Mark Donohue at Pocono. The win was the 19th of Newgarden’s career, an IndyCar record for an American driver.
Roger Penske greeted Newgarden in victory lane.
“This team has been doing the job,” Newgarden said. “Everyone has been giving me a hard time asking what’s up with us not winning? But you know, I don’t think this team could have done anything different. We’ve been in the game almost every race.”
This one again seemed to be in the bag for Newgarden — particularly after a pair of slow pit stops took fellow front-row starter Colton Herta out of contention — but a hard charge from Marcus Ericsson put Newgarden on the defensive. He had to hustle his way through the 13 turns over the final two laps to hold off the Swede by 0.8790 seconds.
IndyCar points leader Alex Palou finished third and was followed by six-time and reigning IndyCar champion Scott Dixon as Honda cars owned by Chip Ganassi went 2-3-4. Ganassi earlier this week said he had sold his NASCAR team and will focus on his IndyCar, IMSA sports cars and Extreme E teams at the end of the year.
“We had a great day, the whole team, to get 2-3-4 was a great result,” Ericsson said. “We were pushing very, very hard out there to catch Josef and a couple more laps, we could have challenged for it.”
Will Power, one of four Penske drivers in the field, was involved in one of the three earlier cautions at the start of the race when contact with Dixon sent Power spinning into a blind turn. Incoming traffic couldn’t see Power stopped in the middle of the track and he was drilled by Ed Jones.
Power had his right hand wrapped when he left the care center and did not return to the race.
Budding star Kyle Kirkwood remained undefeated at Mid-Ohio by sweeping the doubleheader Indy Lights races.
Kirkwood’s win Sunday was his second of the weekend and fifth in last six races. The 22-year-old has won six of the 12 Indy Lights races so far this season and leads the points standings for Andretti Autosport.
Kirkwood is remarkable at Mid-Ohio and has won all seven races he has entered in the Road to Indy ladder system.
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