Newgarden holds off Hunter-Reay at Road America

Newgarden is perfect in Elkhart Lake - leads lap 1
Newgarden is perfect in Elkhart Lake – leads lap 1

On a perfect day for racing at Road America with a huge crowd in attendance, Josef Newgarden drove a perfect race and led 53 of 55 laps from pole to get his first IndyCar win on the 4.04-mile road course.

Newgarden had Ryan Hunter-Reay breathing down his back the entire race but he never put a wheel wrong and Hunter-Reay never was close enough to make a pass attempt. He backed off on the last lap and brought it home 3.3s behind.

Scott Dixon came home third with Takuma Sato and Robert Wickens rounded out the top-5.

It was Newgarden's third win of the year and he is closing on the point leader Scott Dixon who has a 45-point lead in the points over Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi who had miserable luck and lost almost a lap with loose bolts on his left front suspension and out of the points.

"It was a hard-fought day; it was not as easy as it looked," Newgarden said. "I was looking at my mirrors half the day at Ryan closing in on me. I think that Team Chevy engine made the difference. I had the fuel mileage that I needed, good power, good reliability – everything that you'd expect from Team Chevy. At the end of the day, to me, that's what made the difference."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]Starting from the pole position after winning the Verizon P1 Award in qualifying on Saturday, Newgarden led the first 13 laps on the 14-turn, 4.014-mile permanent road course until making his first pit stop. Scott Dixon, the points leader driving the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, led two laps before also stopping, with Newgarden reassuming first place and never relinquishing it the rest of the way.

Newgarden wound up leading 53 of the 55 laps to give Team Penske its fifth win at Road America and victory No. 202 for the team in 51 years of Indy car competition. The race ran caution-free for the ninth time at Road America and first since 2000, with Newgarden's speed average of 132.101 mph establishing a race record.

"It was a day of executing. Team Penske did a great job," Newgarden said. "You're trying to juggle fuel economy and driving fast and the tires are wearing out, so you're nearly wrecking towards the end of the stints in all the high-speed corners. It's really difficult to manage the whole thing but our car was phenomenal. Our car was great on Firestone reds (alternates tires). I was loving the reds today so that's why I kept choosing them."

Hunter-Reay, in the No. 28 DHL Honda, secured his best Road America finish in five tries with the runner-up finish. It moved the Andretti Autosport driver into second place in the championship after 10 of 17 races, trailing Dixon by 45 points.

Rossi hounds Hunter-Reay
Rossi hounds Hunter-Reay

"I thought we had the pace for (Newgarden) early on," said Hunter-Reay, the 2012 series champion. "But after we took that second-to-last set of reds and then at the end with him on the new reds, I could keep up with him for a bit but then in the dirty air I just couldn't do anything with him. That's about all we had today.

"Good, fun day. One position short."

Dixon, the four-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion and 2017 winner at Road America, recovered from his worst starting position in five starts at the track (eighth) to finish third.

"Had we started a little further up, we could have had a good shot at trying to fight for the win today," Dixon said. "Speed-wise, we were right there. Had a bit of a crack at Hunter-Reay on his out lap on the last stint there, but cooked it too much going into (Turn) 14, got a bit loose, lost momentum. That would have been really the only chance of passing him.

"All in all, great points day for us, lead in the championship, which is important."

There are 7 races left in the season, can anyone catch point leader Dixon?

The standings after 10 of 17 races have Dixon in the lead with 393 points, followed by Hunter-Reay (348), Rossi (348), Newgarden (343), Power (328), Graham Rahal (278), Robert Wickens (274), Simon Pagenaud (255), Sebastien Bourdais (235) and Marco Andretti (232).


Newgarden gets third win of year
Newgarden gets third win of year

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): "What a day. I don't know what to say, I'm worn out. I was doing everything I could to keep Ryan (Hunter-Reay), I knew (Scott) Dixon was close, too, so it was a day of executing. Team Penske did a great job. Tim (Cindric, race strategist) gave me the strategy I needed. The guys were perfect in their pit stops. I don't know what to tell you. It was a hard-fought day, it was not as easy as it looked. I was looking at my mirrors half the day with Ryan closing in on me. I think that Team Chevy engine made the difference. I had the engine mileage that I needed, the power, good reliability – everything that you'd expect from Team Chevy. At the end of the day, to me, that's what made the difference."

MATHEUS LEIST (No. 4 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "Today was a really tough race. We've just been struggling a lot finding the right car setup. We can't quite figure out the best setup for tracks like these. All we can do is prepare the best we can for Iowa."

JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 5 Arrow Electronics SPM Honda): "Eventful day for us. We kind of got snuck around on the start with (Will) Power having his problems; I was at the wrong place at the wrong time and lost a few spots. Ultimately, we had really good pace in our first stint. We were taking care of the Firestones really well and were able to make up positions as we cycled through. We had a problem with fuel on the first stop, which cost us a ton of time, and without a caution flag to kind of reset the field, it was a really, really tough race driving back through the field. We were great on the reds (Firestone alternate tires), and stops after the first one were flawless. To drive back up to a top 10 from where we were, really proud of the Arrow Electronics boys today. We would have liked a little bit better than 10th – I think we had a better car than that, but given the circumstances, it was a good day."

ROBERT WICKENS (No. 6 Lucas Oil SPM Honda):
"It was a tough one for us today. We had a great start… I think something happened to Will (Power) so we moved up there. I made a move on (Alexander) Rossi in Turn 5, and suddenly I was P3. I thought it was all happy days from there, but Alex got back on the inside of me in Turn 6 – I gave him space, he pushed me off, and I fell back to sixth. It was kind of a struggle from there. We had a great car, but we didn't have the track position to make a three-stop strategy work; there was no real flexibility on the strategy side. Everyone was pitting on the same laps, so in terms of trying to do something clever… I did see Scott (Dixon) was able to jump all of us there, so hats off to him, he deserved it. I think all things considered today, fifth place is a decent day. We struggled with a few things, so to come home fifth was good. We wanted the Lucas Oil car to be on the podium, but it wasn't our day today. If we keep on hammering these top fives, eventually we'll start having things go our way."

It was another healthy crowd at Road America
It was another healthy crowd at Road America

SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "The PNC Bank car had a ton of speed, at the end there it was just track position. Had we been able to crack in front of (Josef Newgarden or Ryan Hunter-Reay), I think we could have stayed in there, no problem. To try and close that gap, I made a really big run on Hunter-Reay coming into the last corner on Turn 14 during his out lap, and I just cooked it too much and got loose and lost momentum. I think that would have been the only chance I had to try and snag second (place) there. But good job by Josef and Ryan, it was a tough race and good points for us."

ED JONES (No. 10 First Data Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): "It was a tough start to the race. We kind of got sandwiched in when one of the cars had an issue, so my line got stacked up and I had nowhere to go. We dropped back, but the First Data car was good and we were able to pass a lot of cars and gain the ground back. That cost us a ton of track position which was hard to get back, but the team did a good job in the pits and we'll keep fighting in the races to come."

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet):
(About what happened to cause him to retire early): "Literally from as soon as I started warming it up, there was something amiss. I have no clue. They replaced the exhaust and it still didn't take, so the Chevy guys will take a deep look at it." (About his up and down season): "It is unbelievable the amount of DNFs I have had this season. I have never had this many in my career in such a short period of time. Yep, that's racing. Goes one way and then the other. As quickly as it is down, it can swing the other way quickly in a good way. When I think about it, we came into the Month of May, I think, fifth in points and left as the leader, so it can change, man."

TONY KANAAN (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet): "We missed on the setup. No excuses. We need to get better."

Part of the field screams up the hill for the start
Part of the field screams up the hill for the start

GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 GEHL Honda): "We were decent. We went to the new reds (Firestone alternate tires) on the third stint and probably just went on them too early, probably needed to keep them for the last stint. Overall, the car was decent — not great — we have to continue to work on it. We can be a top-five, top-six car but how do we win? We went to new reds on the third stint and it catapulted us up into the group with Robbie (Wickens), Takuma (Sato) and everyone, but I think we needed them at the end. We just have to go back and review that because we definitely needed new reds to close out the race. At the end of the day, it was a great day in the GEHL machine with another consistent result. How about that crowd? It's unbelievable when you drive around the track and see that many people, so thank you to everyone for coming out and supporting us. It was just like our other races. I shouldn't be disappointed, but we want to win. We have finished in the top-10 in every race this year but one, but at some point, we need to improve enough to win these things. We'll go enjoy the Fourth of July and then come back to battle at Iowa."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda):
"The SealMaster Honda was so strong again. We were holding with the lead group and I felt like the guys in front of us were starting to lose their tires faster than we were. The prospects were looking good, then I lost all shifting for about 30 seconds. It started to work again when I got on pit lane. We rebooted, but at that point, the race was basically over, as there was never a yellow to reset the field. Because we pitted early we had to save a massive amount of fuel, so that was pretty much a double penalty, the time lost and the amount of fuel I had to save the rest of the way. As usual, when you need a yellow it never comes. It's a shame. A really solid run that turned into no result. It is what it is. We will just keep at it, and hopefully, catch a break every now and again the rest of the season."

ZACHARY CLAMAN DE MELO (No. 19 Paysafe Honda): "I had a decent start, but I made a mistake at the end of the first lap and that put us back. We just kind of stayed where we were for the first stint. Our pace was much better in the middle of the race, and things were looking good as we were heading into the final stint, but then, unfortunately, we had an electrical issue with the engine and that cost us at the end."

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Direct Supply Chevrolet): "No, definitely not. The start was pretty eventful for us. Obviously, Will (Power) had an issue and I got boxed in and the field was just kind of streaming past me on the inside. We fell back a bit on the first lap, but we were able to pass a lot of guys and move up. But the Direct Supply Chevy was really good for us, and the guys did really good on pit lane. It was a little frustrating to get passed by Simon (Pagenaud) there on the last lap, but we did the last stint there on used reds (Firestone alternate tires) and we were just hanging on there and he just got me. Overall, it was a great race and I had a lot of fun. There were a lot of really good battles, and a clean race, but a lot of hard driving."

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet):
"It was a good weekend. Qualifying was a real shame. We definitely had a good car. We made big improvements throughout the weekend, but we over-balanced and barely missed Q2 where we could have adjusted and probably contended for the pole. It would have changed the whole race because the Menards Chevy was really good in the race. We managed to have a really good fuel saving during the race, so strategy was really good. Tires – when to have to the reds (Firestone alternate tires); when to have the blacks (Firestone primary tires). Made a lot of passes on track. We had a blast today. Coming from starting 14th to finish seventh on a track like this with no yellows is pretty outstanding. Very proud of my team. It was a really exciting race. I would like to have been up front more, but it was pretty good where we finished."

CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet):
"It's been a character-building weekend for everyone here at Carlin. I'm proud of the guys for trying something different on strategy for the race today. We knew that it was a possibility that the race would go full green here, which meant that our strategy for the No. 23 Tresiba Chevrolet might not work as well, but we felt like that was a risk worth taking. We'll go back and look at all of the data, keep learning, and keep taking steps forward. I'm looking forward to going to Iowa in a few weeks. We had good race pace on the last short oval we raced on in Phoenix, so we're optimistic about our starting point there."

ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Relay Group 1001 Honda):
"We had something come loose on the steering racks. Basically, one of the lock nuts that keep the toe-links in their position with the steering racks came loose. At the start, I had a good start up to P8 into Turn 1, and then the steering wheel started going left-hand down further and further to the point where I was going down the straightaway with my hands at seven and two (o'clock position), so it was kind of strange. Our fear was it was going to put us in the wall so we stopped, luckily. My crew did a great job – they found it and fixed it, but from that point on it set our fate to have no yellows here at Road America. We keep showing people we belong in the top 10 and we keep having performances to get us there, but little things keep taking us out of it. I think people are noticing the speed that we have – we just need a little bit of luck."

Rossi screams past the big crowd that lined the circuit
Rossi screams past the big crowd that lined the circuit

ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): "I definitely think we had a car to fight for a podium finish. It wasn't enough to win today, but halfway through the second stint, we had some camber shims fall out of the left front tire which made it pretty undrivable. It's disappointing that something like that happened. It's the way the world and racing works sometimes, but we're still second in the championship and we'll move focus to Iowa."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): "Hats off to Josef (Newgarden) there, he did a great job. I thought we had the pace for him early on, but after he took that second to last set of reds (Firestone alternate tires), and then at the end, for him on the new reds, I could keep with him for a bit, but then in the dirty air, just couldn't do anything with him. It's about all we had today. I thought the car was really good. I was hoping to make it a better show for the fans, I was hoping to get up there and make it interesting, but I gave it 110 percent the whole way. Big thanks to the No. 28 DHL team again, rock stars in the pit lane and continued consistency."

TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Mi-Jack / Panasonic Honda): "We had a fast car. It's a shame that we missed the podium, but we need to find a little more speed. Thanks to the fans for all the support. It was another great event at Road America. We struggled at the beginning of the season and lost too much ground, but Graham (Rahal) and I are working close with the engineering side and shared a lot of stuff and picked up speed. I made a good start at the beginning and it was really fun. At one point, I was side-by-side (with Rossi) and pushed hard, and obviously, not very happy with that, but in the end we got the spot back and close to the podium. In high-level, professional racing, you shouldn't really be bumping each other. Obviously, I gave him room enough and he came inside. He just couldn't stop and came into me and bumped me. He did exactly the same thing to (Robert) Wickens at the start and I'm surprised the stewards didn't take action. I'm OK with side-by-side, just don't touch me. The guys did a tremendous job over the weekend and we hope to carry momentum to Iowa."

ALFONSO CELIS JR. (No. 32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet): "I finally have my first race under my belt. It was a lot of learning and a lot to take in. It was important to finish no matter what, so that's good. I made some mistakes during the race. I had contact in Turn 1 at the start of the race, so we had to replace the front wing during the first pit stop. I am happy to finish the race and look forward to moving on from here."

MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet):
"We made such an improvement in today's race from where we started this weekend. I very much enjoyed that race – it's such a pleasure to drive this Road America circuit. Obviously, it was a really clean race with no yellows and ended up being a fuel mileage race. We picked the right strategy and we had great stops, but we just didn't start off in the right place to fully maximize everything we did right. I feel like I extracted everything out of the car that I could and it's a shame that we can't do qualifying again and see where we'd end up after seeing how we did in our race today. I'm looking forward now to Iowa – I've had some success there, so hopefully, it'll translate into a good result for the No. 59 Gallagher Chevrolet in a few weeks."

GABBY CHAVES (No. 88 Harding Group Chevrolet):
"It felt like we made some good changes overnight and we were able to pass some cars, be aggressive and have fun out there in the first few stints. Unfortunately, we had an issue with one of the air guns, I'm not quite sure what happened, but we ended up running over one of our air hoses. That cost us a drive-through (penalty), which obviously, on a long pit lane basically ended our day. Anyways, it's been a very positive change to challenge a bit more and race some cars! We were unlucky at the end, but we made a lot of progression which was the goal. Really looking forward to Iowa now."

MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda):
"I made the call to go to blacks (Firestone primary tires) at the end when we should've gone with reds (Firestone alternate tires) – so, I think that cost us a top-10 finish. I just completely lost the front and went off the track. I made an error there at the end of the race. I think I cost us a top 10 today."


Pos No Name Laps Diff Gap Led ST Engine Points Team
1 1 Josef Newgarden 55 0.000s 0.000s 53 1 Chevy 343 Team Penske
2 28 Ryan Hunter-Reay 55 3.3759 3.3759 0 3 Honda 348 Andretti Autosport
3 9 Scott Dixon 55 5.4902 2.1143 2 8 Honda 393 Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
4 30 Takuma Sato 55 14.8772 9.3870 0 7 Honda 201 Rahal Letterman Lanigan
5 6 Robert Wickens 55 23.8993 9.0221 0 5 Honda 274 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
6 15 Graham Rahal 55 32.5513 8.6520 0 9 Honda 278 Rahal Letterman Lanigan
7 22 Simon Pagenaud 55 42.1868 9.6355 0 14 Chevy 255 Team Penske
8 21 Spencer Pigot 55 42.5336 0.3468 0 10 Chevy 171 Ed Carpenter Racing
9 10 Ed Jones 55 46.2118 3.6782 0 12 Honda 205 Chip Ganassi Racing Teams
10 5 James Hinchcliffe 55 47.5359 1.3241 0 16 Honda 229 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
11 98 Marco Andretti 55 48.1468 0.6109 0 15 Honda 232 Andretti Herta Autosport w/CA
12 20 Jordan King 55 53.4242 5.2774 0 13 Chevy 88 Ed Carpenter Racing
13 18 Sebastien Bourdais 55 60.3249 6.9007 0 6 Honda 235 Dale Coyne Racing with VS
14 14 Tony Kanaan 55 65.2583 4.9334 0 18 Chevy 8 AJ Foyt Enterprises
15 4 Matheus Leist 55 69.7681 4.5098 0 20 Chevy 2 AJ Foyt Enterprises
16 27 Alexander Rossi 55 83.4715 13.7034 0 4 Honda 348 Andretti Autosport
17 59 Max Chilton 55 84.3709 0.8994 0 22 Chevy 21 Carlin
18 23 Charlie Kimball 55 103.1560 18.7848 0 19 Chevy 15 Carlin
19 88 Gabby Chaves 54 1 LAPS 33.5024 0 23 Chevy 23 Harding Racing
20 32 Alfonso Celis Jr 54 1 LAPS 23.4642 0 21 Chevy 20 Juncos Racing
21 19 Zachary De Melo 54 1 LAPS 13.2311 0 17 Honda 11 Dale Coyne Racing
22 26 Zach Veach 54 1 LAPS 22.7247 0 11 Honda 155 Andretti Autosport
23 12 Will Power 2 14 LAPS 14 LAPS 0 2 Chevy 328 Team Penske

Race Statistics:
Winner's average speed: 132.101 mph
Time of Race: 1:40:16.4165
Margin of victory: 3.3759 seconds
Cautions: 0 for 0 laps
Lead changes: 2 among 2 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Newgarden, Josef 1 – 13
Dixon, Scott 14 – 15
Newgarden, Josef 16 – 55

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings:
Dixon 393, Hunter-Reay 348, Rossi 348, Newgarden 343, Power 328, Rahal 278, Wickens 274, Pagenaud 255, Bourdais 235, Andretti 232.

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