ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – After today, its safe to say Josef Newgarden‘s wallet is alittle more heavier.
After beating Polesitter Alexander Rossi out of the pits, Newgarden cruised to his 3rd victory of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season in the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet and earned a cool $1 million People Ready Force for Good Challenge bonus. The Challenge rewards the first driver to win on all three types of circuits – road courses, street circuits and oval tracks – in 2022. Newgarden also exercised a few demons when having come close to winning the race last year only to have a transmission problem on the last restart.
The $1 million is shared between the team with $500,000 and Nashville-area native Newgarden and $500,000 donated to Newgarden’s chosen charities. Newgarden, who previously won this season on the Texas Motor Speedway oval and the Long Beach street circuit, selected two charities to split the $500,000 portion – Serious Fun Children’s Network and Wags and Walks Nashville.
Newgarden was simply untouchable after a string of full-course cautions gave way to clean running, and in unobstructed air in route to his 23rd career win. The two-time IndyCar champion pulled away from Rossi, until the middle of the final stint, when Rossi trimmed his deficit to 2.8 sec. The field was brought under caution twice in the final 10 laps, which allowed the #27 Andretti car onto the back of the Penske car, but both times Newgarden was able to stretch the lead around the final corner, so that Rossi wasn’t a threat as he crossed the start-finish line. Rossi finished 3rd, losing out to Chip Ganassi’s & Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson on the final restart.
In the end, Newgarden won by 3.3 secs over Ericsson and 5.6 secs over Rossi.
“Great, great day,” said the two-time champion who is now up to 3rd in the 2022 NTT IndyCar Point standing just five points behind teammate Will Power and 32 away from points leader Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda.. “Felt really good going into it. Felt like we had a car to win today. It was just about executing.
“My team really put me in position on that first stop. Rossi was not going to be easy to beat today. I felt like he was very strong. I felt like we were a little bit better than him, but he was by no means going to be simple to go by.
“To be able to win this million bucks, give half of it to charity, is very cool. Very, very cool. I’m sure our recipients are going to be thrilled with that.”
“I just kept forgetting about it,” he said of the bonus. “To finally get it done and to most importantly give that money to charity; half that money is going to charity with Serious Fun Children’s Network and Wags and Walks Nashville. I hope they are happy about that. That’s a lot of money coming their way.”
“I was just trying to stay focused on what I had to do,” he stated. “Just an unbelievable job by everyone at Team Penske. Great to have PPG on board with us. We’ve had a lot of success with this car and Team Chevy. That first stop really set the tone for us. I felt like our car was really hooked up and we had everything we needed from Chevy on the power side.”
The lap 11 restart was unbelievable as Rossi led Newgarden, Ericsson, Romain Grosjean, Pato O’Ward and Colton Herta, but by lap 15, Rossi held a slim 0.6949 second lead over Newgarden as the rear alternate red tires on the leader’s car seemed to be at the end of their road. The two pitted at the end of the lap to go onto primary black tires. Rossi’s NAPA team experienced a slow left-rear tire change and had to hold a moment for the pitting Scott McLaughlin, which promoted Newgarden to the lead.
After a P3 finish by Rossi was 2 of his Andretti teammates who ran well with #28 Romain Grosjean in P4 and a hard charging #26 Colton Herta in P5, having returned the spot he earned in qualifying, but lost P5 with a 6-position grid penalty was assessed for an unapproved engine change. The top six was completed by Arrow McLaren SP’s #7 Felix Rosenqvist, who led those who pitted early and were forced to save copious amounts of fuel for most of the race.
The next NTT INDYCAR SERIES race is The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by the All-New 2023 Civic Type R on Sunday, July 3 (noon ET, NBC, Peacock Premium, INDYCAR Radio Network).
- Graham Rahal was the biggest mover of the day, going from P22 to P8 for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
- Two drivers in the hunt for the title, Ericsson and teammate Alex Palou made contact that left the reigning champion in last place
- Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward suffered an apparent engine failure 9 laps from the end, he finished P26