Big racing returned to Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday with frequent overtaking and a thrilling finish as Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden denied teammate Scott McLaughlin’s first oval victory at the finish line. by 0.0669 sec; Newgarden was credited with leading three laps of the 186 McLaughlins controlled on behalf of Penske and the Chevrolet.
“It was a race of patience, of course,” Newgarden said after earning his 21st IndyCar win. “We had a lot of adversity to overcome; we had a right front tire that came off in the first stint. The final I got blown out of my doors by everyone. I had to come back sixth or seventh. At the At the very end, I literally conceded two rounds before I was like, “Man, that’s not gonna happen.” I was like, “It’s done. “You know, he did a good job. He was in position, he’s going to win this race, and you just brought him home.”
Newgarden’s approach changed when he used the traffic ahead of McLaughlin to knock him down and win the drag race to the checkered flag.
“The traffic just presented a great opportunity to chase it down and try to do something to win this race,” Newgarden added. “So I went to the high side and said, ‘You know what, if I hit the fence, hit the fence. Scott would still win and it would be a great day for the team. If I don’t hit the fence, then I don’t know what’s going to happen. “And you saw I was so pumped. I’ve never been so excited.
Marcus Ericsson (Chip Ganassi Racing) – in another strong showing – led his home organization to third as drivers Penske and Ganassi were in the top seven. sixth and Alex Palou seventh.
After Johnson’s star performance in the No. 48 Honda, the most notable drive of the day belonged to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Santino Ferrucci, who went from pit lane spectator on Saturday to replacing Jack Harvey on Sunday, racing from last to ninth in the #45 Honda.
The race wasn’t perfect, but it was a big improvement over recent Texas races where drivers were pretty much stuck in the bottom lane due to the application of NASCAR’s PJ1 traction compound on the top lanes. . and revised tires from Firestone, more aggressive passing attempts—entering Turn 1, exiting Turn 2 and Turn 4—became possible.
Not all overtaking attempts were successful, some drivers came into contact with others, while solo incidents and mechanical and engine problems put nine drivers out of the race.
Newgarden felt it was the biggest win of his career. McLaughlin felt he should have held on to concede defeat. Chevy led over 200 laps and finished 1-2-4 to extend its constructors’ championship lead over Honda. In just over two weeks we will meet again to see if the Penske-Chevy train can be stopped on Honda’s ground or if the Penske trio will continue to own the first part of the season.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The 248-lap race started with Felix Rosenqvist leading from pole, but Scott McLaughlin grabbed the lead by the end of the first lap. Alexander Rossi appeared to get an early race coming to the green flag overtaking a number of cars outside.
Colton Herta was on the move early, down to P6 from P9 in the opening laps. Rossi was penalized for jumping the start, but before he could serve the penalty he slowed to a crawl with suspected alternator problems. The first warning came on lap 13; restart on lap 16; Kyle Kirkwood, Graham Rahal, Dalton Kellett and Santino Ferrucci are in the pits.
Pato O’Ward went on a charge, using portions of the second lane to execute passes; he went to P8 after falling back early. On lap 28 Kirkwood charged at P10 as McLaughlin held a 0.28 second lead over Rosenqvist. After the Swede he was Takuma Sato 0.87s behind, then Herta 1.3s behind and Will Power 2.0s behind.
Graham Rahal nearly hit the wall at Turn 4 on Lap 53 as he encountered a slippery Rinus VeeKay. Concerns about tire life at the end of the stint began to arise soon after. VeeKay stopped on the next lap, which challenged a three-stage race. Marcus Ericsson was on lap 57 and was joined by Josef Newgarden and leader McLaughlin moments later. Rosenqvist was next on lap 59. A long stop for Christian Lundgaard on lap 61 as fuel took a while to transfer while Sato held the lead with Herta and Power behind Sato pitted at the end of the lap 61.
Sato was blocked from getting to his pit as Malukas went long into his; With the pit trades, Kirkwood took the lead. Pit lane speed penalty for Conor Daly.
Kirkwood stops in the lead on lap 67.
After the pit stops, McLaughlin, Newgarden, O’Ward, Rosenqvist, Herta and Dixon were the top six. McLaughlin was 12.4 seconds ahead of teammate Newgarden in P2 on lap 79.
Trying to drive through fast traffic halved McLaughlin’s lead on Lap 95 as Newgarden was 6.4 seconds behind Lap 99 brought the second warning as Devlin DeFrancesco slid into Turn 1 and set a right rear-left front contact with Sato who is mounted. the track and lightly hit the wall at Turn 2 before heading to the pits.
Lap 104 saw the field come to a halt and O’Ward and Rosenqvist had major pitfalls. O’Ward slid into his box and hit his left front tire lever. The crew had to back the car up and then do the maintenance. Rosenqvist also slipped long in his box, had to be removed, and then his right rear tire lever needed a second attempt to re-tighten the wheel, which added more time to the process. got out of the car.
Rosenqvist and O’Ward fell into the top six and joined 16th and 17th. Leading the field at this point: McLaughlin, Newgarden, Power, Dixon, Ericsson and VeeKay. The restart came on lap 114 for just one lap when Kirkwood spun. after getting on the PJ1 enclosure and crashing into Turn 4. He appeared to be unharmed.
O’Ward was penalized for hitting his team mate – Norm Hornitschek – and stopped under warning to replace his front wing. He lost a lap in the rally and restarted P21.
The restart on lap 129 saw DeFrancesco, Castroneves and Rahal in the wall in turns 3 and 4. Castroneves was an innocent spectator as DeFrancesco dipped under the white line and came into Rahal who then hit Castroneves. center.
Lap 140 ended Rosenqvist’s day with a mechanical issue in the rear right corner.
The 150 lap restart was a Penske 1-2-3 with McLaughlin leading Newgarden and Power and Newgarden passing late in the lap. VeeKay was on a charge until P2 on lap 153 as McLaughlin regained the lead. Newgarden slipped to P4 after Dixon got out, Ericsson was next to downgrade him to P6.
VeeKay took the lead on lap 160. Will Power passed McLaughlin and VeeKay in one shot to take the lead on lap 164. Dixon improved to P3.
Top 10 by saving fuel and managing tires on lap 177: Power, VeeKay, Dixon, McLaughlin, Ericsson, Newgarden, Herta, Pagenaud, Johnson, Ferrucci.
McLaughlin moved to P2 and Newgarden to P5. Ericsson took the lead on lap 185 as the tires started to become an issue for most of the remaining riders. VeeKay was the first to stop among the leaders on lap 187. Herta pitted at the end of the He lost a ton of time – 14.5 seconds for the blackout because the left front wheel nut blew refused to hug. He lost a lap because of the problem.
McLaughlin stopped on lap 192. Newgarden and Power followed at the end of the lap. Ericsson was on lap 184.
Lundgaard clipped the wall on lap 232, damaging his right front wing. McLaughlin, Newgarden and Ericsson fought for the top three with McLaughlin 0.6 seconds ahead. Herta in P11 has been told he needs to save fuel and VeeKay cannot go all the way on his tank.
When it looked like McLaughlin was safe, Newgarden pulled off a shock and lost his mind in the celebrating car.