Newgarden Wins Among ‘Beautiful Chaos’

| , RacinToday.com Monday, April 3 2023

Josef Newgarden heads to victory at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, (Photo courtesy of INDYCAR)

FORT WORTH, Texas _ Josef Newgarden timed it just right once again to earn his second consecutive victory at Texas Motor Speedway Sunday in the PPG 375 after a scintillating NTT IndyCar Series race perfectly described as “beautiful chaos.”

Newgarden drove his No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet past the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet of Pato O’Ward for the lead on Lap 249 of the 250-lapper just moments before Romain Grosjean crashed in Turn 2 in the No. 28 Honda, triggering the last of five caution periods and ending the race under yellow.

It was the second straight year of perfect timing on the high-banked/1.5-mile oval for two-time series champion Newgarden, who passed Team Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin exiting Turn 4 on the last lap for victory last year.

“Pato gave me all the respect in the world when he was racing next to me,” Newgarden said. “It was really hard to fight those guys. I think (Alex) Palou was super strong, too. There are just no gimmes. It was packed-up today, very difficult to get away.

“There were parts when we were good, parts when we were weaker. But when we needed to be good, the car was there at the end.”

Newgarden, who led a race-high 123 laps, averaged 169.917 mph for his 26th career series victory. Newgarden, from Nashville, Tenn., also extended his streak to nine consecutive seasons with at least one victory.

Palou, the 2021 season champion from Spain, finished third in the No. 10 The American Legion Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, followed by David Malukas in the No. 18 Honda in an impressive performance for the series sophomore driving for one of the series’ smallest teams.

“My new word for this week is going to be ‘beautiful chaos,’^” Malukas said. “I loved it. I was having a blast.”

Six-time series champion Scott Dixon of New Zealand rounded-out the top-five in the No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, as CGR placed two cars in the top-five. O’Ward took the championship lead by seven points over St. Petersburg winner Marcus Ericsson of Sweden and CGR with his second consecutive runner-up finish of the season.

“I was timing the tow, but it’s been a hell of a start to the year,” said O’Ward, a native of Mexico who scored his first series win here in May 2021. “The guys gave me an absolute rocket ship. Everybody that was watching the race midway through pretty sure saw that.”

Indeed. The dramatic, two-wide/three-deep pack racing that unfolded on the high-banked Texas asphalt over the closing 20 laps was a dramatic contrast to O’Ward’s breathtaking speed and dominance halfway through the race.

O’Ward took the lead for the first time on Lap 109. By Lap 160, he had lapped the entire 28-car field except for Newgarden, who was nearly six seconds behind in second. But O’Ward’s imperious march was halted when teammate and NTT P1 Award winner Felix Rosenqvist crashed his No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet in Turn 4 on Lap 179.

That incident unleashed a high-speed game of tactical chess on-track and on pit stands up and down the field for the remaining laps, as drivers and strategists devised the optimal time to pit for fuel and tires. It was half-smarts, half-dice roll.

Six cars that were one lap down got the wave-around to the lead lap when O’Ward and Newgarden pitted alone as the sole cars on the lead lap with 68 laps remaining.

That regroup spawned the wild, thrilling side-by-side racing that filled every inch of the racing groove over the last 57 laps. After the restart on Lap 193 following Rosenqvist’s crash, there were 14 lead changes among five different drivers.

O’Ward and Newgarden swapped the lead five times in the last eight laps before Grosjean’s race-ending incident while he was dicing and slicing with the lead pack, too, in the Frenchman’s most impressive oval race performance yet.

Newgarden grabbed the point on Lap 242, with O’Ward reclaiming the top spot one lap later. Then it was Newgarden’s turn to take the lead one trip later on Lap 244, with O’Ward nosing ahead on Lap 247. Newgarden finally got in front just in time on Lap 249, a few exhilarating breaths before the yellow flag flew for the last time. In total, the race featured 26 lead changes among eight drivers.

Newgarden will split $10,000 with Team Penske and his chosen charities, SeriousFun Children’s Network and Wags and Walks Nashville, for his victory as part of the PeopleReady Force For Good Challenge.

Round 3 of the schedule race is the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 16, on the streets of Long Beach, Calif. Live coverage starts at 3 p.m. (EDT) on NBC, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Results of the PPG 375 NTT IndyCar Series event on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (4) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 250, Running
2. (5) Pato O’Ward, Chevrolet, 250, Running
3. (7) Alex Palou, Honda, 250, Running
4. (9) David Malukas, Honda, 250, Running
5. (2) Scott Dixon, Honda, 250, Running
6. (15) Scott McLaughlin, Chevrolet, 250, Running
7. (10) Colton Herta, Honda, 250, Running
8. (16) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 249, Running
9. (17) Callum Ilott, Chevrolet, 249, Running
10. (21) Helio Castroneves, Honda, 249, Running
11. (26) Rinus VeeKay, Chevrolet, 249, Running
12. (19) Agustin Canapino, Chevrolet, 249, Running
13. (18) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 249, Running
14. (11) Romain Grosjean, Honda, 248, Contact
15. (13) Benjamin Pedersen, Chevrolet, 248, Running
16. (8) Will Power, Chevrolet, 248, Running
17. (22) Simon Pagenaud, Honda, 247, Running
18. (28) Jack Harvey, Honda, 247, Running
19. (27) Christian Lundgaard, Honda, 247, Running
20. (25) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 246, Running
21. (14) Santino Ferrucci, Chevrolet, 246, Running
22. (3) Alexander Rossi, Chevrolet, 243, Running
23. (12) Devlin DeFrancesco, Honda, 221, Contact
24. (24) Graham Rahal, Honda, 219, Contact
25. (23) Sting Ray Robb, Honda, 208, Contact
26. (1) Felix Rosenqvist, Chevrolet, 177, Contact
27. (20) Kyle Kirkwood, Honda, 97, Contact
28. (6) Takuma Sato, Honda, 46, Contact

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 169.917 mph
Time of Race: 2:07:07.2653
Margin of victory: Under caution
Cautions: 5 for 52 laps
Lead changes: 26 among 8 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Dixon, Scott 1 – 2
Newgarden, Josef 3
Dixon, Scott 4
Newgarden, Josef 5 – 65
Palou, Alex 66 – 67
Newgarden, Josef 68 – 108
O’Ward, Pato 109 – 114
Rosenqvist, Felix 115
Robb, Sting Ray 116
Newgarden, Josef 117 – 128
O’Ward, Pato 129 – 169
Rosenqvist, Felix 170 – 172
O’Ward, Pato 173 – 194
Palou, Alex 195 – 198
Newgarden, Josef 199 – 200
Palou, Alex 201 – 202
Herta, Colton 203 – 206
O’Ward, Pato 207 – 208
Palou, Alex 209 – 219
Grosjean, Romain 220 – 221
O’Ward, Pato 222 – 238
Palou, Alex 239 – 241
Newgarden, Josef 242
O’Ward, Pato 243
Newgarden, Josef 244 – 246
O’Ward, Pato 247 – 248
Newgarden, Josef 249 – 250

Point Standings: O’Ward 82, Ericsson 75, Dixon 67, Newgarden 66, Palou 60, Malukas 53, Ilott 52, McLaughlin 48, Power 40, Rossi 40, Herta 37, Canapino 36, Rahal 34, Lundgaard 33, Grosjean 31, VeeKay 28, Castroneves 27, Daly 26, Harvey 20, Kirkwood 20, Robb 20, Pedersen 20, Marcus Armstrong 19, Pagenaud 18, Rosenqvist 18, Carpenter 17, Ferrucci 15, DeFrancesco 12, Sato 5


| , RacinToday.com Monday, April 3 2023
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