Newgarden stays in a class of his own once again in Iowa

#2: Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet
#2: Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Death, taxes, and Josef Newgarden winning IndyCar races at Iowa Speedway. These are three of life’s inescapable truths after the Team Penske driver took his fourth consecutive oval win of 2023, fifth straight since claiming the World Wide Technology Raceway win to close 2022’s oval season, and sixth career victory on the 0.875-mile bullring.

Newgarden entered the Hy-Vee IndyCar Weekend doubleheader down 126 points to championship leader Alex Palou, who finished third for Chip Ganassi Racing, and carved a healthy chunk off the advantage to 80 points heading into the next race at Nashville.

“We knew we had a great car, and then the pressure was there,” Newgarden said. “We wanted to execute on it and make sure it was a great weekend. I’m happy now. When you finish the first race, it’s great to have a doubleheader but you just feel incomplete until you get through today. And you know, to be able to come back and do it again and make our car a little bit better, I’m so proud of the team.”

Newgarden led 212 laps which, when added to his 129 from Saturday, made for 341 tours in the lead from the 500 completed in Iowa. The two-time champion’s extraordinary oval dominance places him in illustrious company: He’s the first since Al Unser in 1970 to earn five consecutive oval races, and is only surpassed by Ralph DePalma’s six consecutive in 1918 and A.J. Foyt’s seven in 1964. He also joins Foyt as one of only two drivers to win the first four ovals in a season; Foyt’s achievement came in that record 1964 year.

WHAT CAN’T @JOSEFNEWGARDEN DO!?

He passes for second, then the LEAD at @IowaSpeedway!

TV: NBC and Peacock pic.twitter.com/DncKathzSV

— INDYCAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) July 23, 2023

A late restart added some spice to an otherwise processional day, and in that three-lap sprint to the checkered flag, Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist began the run in second but slid up onto the marbles and watched as Penske’s Will Power and Palou motored by to clinch the final podium spots.

“I didn’t really expect to be on the podium,” Palou said. “And honestly, it’s a place where we struggle. We don’t really have the package that we would like, and that I struggle with, but I got a lot of confidence today. But there’s still a lot to improve.”

Despite falling to fourth, Rosenqvist made immense progress after starting 16th and secured his second-best result of the season. Penske’s Scott McLaughlin, who spent most of the day running in a 1-2-3 with his teammates, settled for fifth and Ganassi’s Scott Dixon was embroiled in major battles for most of the race and completed the top six as the first driver who was a lap down to the winner.

Of the other finishers, Colton Herta was the best Andretti Autosport driver in seventh, and behind him, young oval ace David Malukas was competitive all afternoon and took eighth for Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports.

Toronto winner Christian Lundgaard was the top performer for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in 13th, and he was one position ahead of Callum Ilott in 14th, who started 24th for Juncos Hollinger Racing and played among the bigger teams with one of the series’ newest programs.

The doubleheader was remarkably clean with no heavy crashes recorded from Friday through Sunday. The Ganassi team, as one might anticipate, improved their form overnight, but it was nowhere near what was needed to interrupt Penske’s Iowa domination.

Palou did a great job to limit the points loss with the best short-oval performance of his career, and IndyCar’s two weeks away from a huge roll of the dice in Nashville where the cartoon anvil can strike any driver at any time.

Thanks to Newgarden, the quest for the 2023 championship is on again, and after giving up 37 points, Palou’s gone from seemingly untouchable to more than catchable.

AS IT HAPPENED

Will Power charged into the lead and Marcus Ericsson motored up to P3 by Lap 4 and Pato O’Ward also made a nice improvement to P6. By lap 10, Callum Ilott was up from P24 to P17 as Power led Scott McLaughlin, Ericsson, David Malukas and Josef Newgarden.

Strong Ray Robb, running P28 and last, is lapped on the 15th tour. Lap 21 and Alex Palou takes P9 from Colton Herta and P8 from Ed Carpenter the next time around.

Lap 26 and Newgarden takes P3 from Ericsson and McLaughlin is challenging Power for the lead. Traffic is the issue. Lap 29 and McLaughlin goes to P1 but the fight isn’t over and he reclaims the lead on lap 31 but Newgarden blows by both exiting Turn 2 and is the new leader.

Ericsson’s fallen to P7 as Malukas targets P3 McLaughlin who passes Power and demotes him to P3. Lap 35 and Malukas is by Power for P3. O’Ward is next and then Scott Dixon who pushed Power to P6. O’Ward takes P3 from Malukas on lap 37. This is wild.

Ed Carpenter started P4 and has been lapped in P26. Dixon’s up to P4 after passing Malukas.

Lap 52 and Newgarden is 3.4s up on McLaughlin as Power pits, first of the lead pack. Malukas is next, but the team is slow to change the left-rear tire. Newgarden’s lapped up to 10th and is pitting on lap 55 along with Dixon and McLaughlin.

First caution of the day on lap 87 as Agustin Canapino, while running an impressive P15, briefly rides the wall between Turns 1 and 2. He didn’t crash so much as skip the right-front tire off the SAFER barrier, but that was enough slow the field, apparently.

Lap 94 and the leaders pit under yellow. An extended effort to re-order the field meant the green didn’t wave until lap 107, and when it did, McLaughlin went after Newgarden for the lead but was unsuccessful. At 110 laps it was Newgarden, McLaughlin, Power, Ericsson, Dixon, and O’Ward. Championship leader Palou was P12. Callum Ilott is a strong P11.

Lap 115 and Dixon demotes Ericsson from P4. Lap 122 and O’Ward demoted Ericsson from P5. Lap 136 and O’Ward’s struggling, down to P7 on pace. Kyle Kirkwood’s up to P6. Malukas is next to pass O’Ward and then Herta goes by, leaving him down in an oversteering P10 by lap 142 as Takuma Sato pits after hitting the right-rear corner on the Turn 2 wall.

‘I’ve never been more bummed about a fourth place’ – Rosenqvist

Newgarden frustrated by lapped drivers en route to Iowa win

Kirkwood already building off best career oval result at Iowa

Lap 145 and O’Ward’s in. Lap 148 and the leaders pit. Lap 157 and the left-rear wheel falls off of Robb’s car and was somehow avoided by half the field as the race returns to yellow. Robb did an excellent job to keep the car under control. McLaughlin and O’Ward and Kirkwood and Palou are among those to take the option to pit on lap 164 and try to jump Newgarden later in the race.

Running order for the restart is Newgarden, Power, Dixon, Herta, Felix Rosenqvist, Ericsson, Malukas, Alexander Rossi, McLaughlin, and O’Ward, Palou, and Kirkwood.

The Lap 169 restart is a thriller that sees Herta take P3 and Dixon drop to P5. Lap 172 and McLaughlin flies past Ericsson for P6. Lap 179 and Rosenqvist takes P3 from Herta and Dixon is next to take P4 and McLaughlin goes by to leave Herta in P6. Lap 182 and McLaughlin claims P4 from Dixon.

Lap 196 and Newgarden and Power Ericsson and O’Ward are in for their final stops. McLaughlin and Dixon are in the next lap. Rosenqvist, who stopped one lap before Newgarden, is up to P2 and chasing the leader, down 0.2s on Lap 203.

Dixon and O’Ward have been wearing each other out over P7 with the two chasing Herta in P6. Lap 226 and Newgarden is 4.7s clear of Rosenqvist and 11.8 ahead of Power.

Newgarden holds on and goes four-for-four this season on ovals and five straight since WWTR in 2022.

RESULTS


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