Newgarden frustrated by lapped drivers en route to Iowa win

IOWA SPEEDWAY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - JULY 22: #2: Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet at Iowa Speedway on Saturday July 22, 2023 in Newton, United States of America. (Photo by LAT Images)
IOWA SPEEDWAY, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA - JULY 22: #2: Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet at Iowa Speedway on Saturday July 22, 2023 in Newton, United States of America. (Photo by LAT Images)

Josef Newgarden might have seemed to have it all his own way in the Hy-Vee Homefront 250 at Iowa Speedway, once he got past teammate Will Power for the lead, but the race winner still was left steaming over what has become a recurring topic after IndyCar races: the behavior of drivers being lapped. Rather than single out anyone in particular, Newgarden decried what he sees as a widespread trend.

“There’s a lot of people. There’s a lot of people,” he said when asked who he meant. “It’s one thing if you’re leading the race. If you’re leading the race, you’re really within your right. If you’re fighting with people around you, seventh, eighth, ninth place, you’re all fighting. You’re within your right to fight as hard as possible.

“I think, the way the rule was written, it’s also legal for them to fight to the death to stay on the lead lap in front of the leader. It is legal. I’m just telling you you’re not making any friends when you do it. There’s 20 laps to go in the race, and I was getting driven like it was literally to the death for the end of the Indy 500. It was just crazy. I couldn’t believe the way people were mirror-driving.

“I’ve never seen it that bad here. Normally if you’re the leader, you’re not getting a handout, but you’re at least getting the courtesy that you are the leader and you’re about to get lapped. You don’t have to pull over, but just don’t be aggressive and weave in front of the leader, block the leader, chop the leader.”

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Newgarden made clear that he’s keeping track, and that paybacks could be coming.

“There’s just a point where you’ve got to understand that that comes back around,” he said. “If you do that to someone, I’m going to fence you the next time I see you. If you’re the leader the next time, I am going to do you so dirty if you did that to me.

“It’s common sense. Everybody in the paddock knows it, and they’re just — for whatever reason, there’s people who just can’t get it. You know what, if they can’t learn it by now, they’ll probably never learn. I guess where I’m going with this — you can tell I’m frustrated by it, which a lot of people are. I can’t change people’s behavior. If they’re going to continue to do that, I have to study and figure out how to counteract it, because that’s how they’re going to play. I’m going to assume they’re going to play like that (Sunday, in the second race of the Iowa doubleheader), and I’ve got to be in a better position and better equipped handle it.”

After teammate Scott McLaughlin said he intended to speak with some drivers about the issue prior to Sunday’s race, Newgarden said, “I’ll go talk to some people too. They need to know.

“Look, it’s not cool. It’s not cool. If you want to play that game, that’s fine, but you should be thinking long term.”

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