Josef Newgarden scores his first IndyCar win at Barber

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In a thrilling 90-lap Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama that was a mix of pace, persistence, patience and pit strategy, the Verizon IndyCar Series has a first-time race winner, and a first-time champagne sipper.

His name is Josef Newgarden.

The driver of the No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet made it home on the final 27-lap stint en route to the victory, holding off fellow American Graham Rahal, who turned in arguably the drive of his career en route to second in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda.

Scott Dixon, the Long Beach winner, finished third in the No. 9 Coca-Cola Chevrolet.

While Newgarden led a race-high 46 laps – 25 more than his previous career total of 21 entering the day – he didn’t have it easy as the stats would indicate, as two separate strategies ruled the roost.

Polesitter Helio Castroneves led the opening 18 laps but Newgarden was an early charger, moving up to third from fifth on the start and second by end of the first lap with a pass on Will Power at Turn 16.

Power’s race nearly came unglued when following a pit stop, he collided with Takuma Sato, who had nowhere to go exiting Turn 2. Sato spun and Power cascaded through the gravel, later earning a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact.

Rahal though was the driver to watch, as an alternate strategy from his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing put him in a position to advance throughout the race. He ran a longer second stint (from Laps 19 to 48) before pitting earlier for his final stop to push harder towards the finish.

Newgarden and Castroneves were 1-2 with Rahal up to third by Lap 22. He inherited the lead by Lap 35 as most of the leaders, led by Newgarden and Castroneves, pitted.

Rahal stopped again on Lap 48, just past the halfway mark, which left his final stop for Lap 70. That allowed him to push harder on both stints, while others who pitted between Laps 62 and 64 would theoretically have to save more fuel throughout the run to the finish.

Newgarden made his last of three stops (Laps 19, 35, 63) and came out in second, behind Rahal, who was due to stop.

Rahal was sixth after his final stop but quickly made work of Power and Hunter-Reay, who made it back into contention past the halfway mark, before hunting down Dixon and passing him out of Turn 9 on the final lap.

It wasn’t enough to catch Newgarden, who won by 2.2061 seconds to complete the first American 1-2 in IndyCar since last year at Iowa Speedway. There, Hunter-Reay beat Newgarden on the sub-one-mile oval.

The win is the first for the combined CFH Racing but the sixth for the team overall, including the five prior wins by either Ed Carpenter Racing or Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing between 2011 and 2014.

Power and Hunter-Reay ended fourth and fifth. Carlos Munoz was a season-best sixth for Andretti Autosport.

Neither Tony Kanaan nor Castroneves – who ran strongly at various points during the race – were able to parlay the combination into a successful result. Kanaan ended 13th, Castroneves 15th on the day.

Despite two cautions for nine laps, there were no major incidents and all 23 drivers finished. Several drivers made great moves throughout the race.

But at the end of it all, Newgarden emerged as a first-time winner heading into the Month of May.

The series isn’t racing next weekend, but will have its oval aero kit test on Sunday, May 3, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

RESULTS

Results Sunday of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.3-mile Barber Motorsports Park road course with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (5) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 90, Running
2. (8) Graham Rahal, Honda, 90, Running
3. (4) Scott Dixon, Chevrolet, 90, Running
4. (2) Will Power, Chevrolet, 90, Running
5. (18) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 90, Running
6. (22) Carlos Munoz, Honda, 90, Running
7. (10) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 90, Running
8. (7) Sebastien Bourdais, Chevrolet, 90, Running
9. (3) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 90, Running
10. (13) Marco Andretti, Honda, 90, Running
11. (9) Luca Filippi, Chevrolet, 90, Running
12. (11) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 90, Running
13. (6) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 90, Running
14. (15) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 90, Running
15. (1) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 90, Running
16. (17) Gabby Chaves, Honda, 90, Running
17. (20) Takuma Sato, Honda, 90, Running
18. (12) Sage Karam, Chevrolet, 90, Running
19. (16) Stefano Coletti, Chevrolet, 90, Running
20. (21) Rodolfo Gonzalez, Honda, 90, Running
21. (19) Jack Hawksworth, Honda, 90, Running
22. (14) James Jakes, Honda, 89, Running
23. (23) Francesco Dracone, Honda, 89, Running

Race Statistics
Winners average speed: 107.176
Time of Race: 01:55:53.0630
Margin of victory: 2.2061 seconds
Cautions: 2 for 9 laps
Lead changes: 10

Lap Leaders:
Castroneves 1 – 18
Pagenaud 19 – 21
Newgarden 22 – 34
Rahal 35 – 46
Hinchcliffe 47
Bourdais 48 – 49
Montoya 50
Newgarden 51 – 62
Dixon 63 – 64
Rahal 65 – 69
Newgarden 70 – 90

Point Standings: Montoya 136, Castroneves 133, Dixon 123, Newgarden 119, Power 112, Hinchcliffe 110, Kanaan 110, Rahal 103, Pagenaud 96, Bourdais 91

Dakar Rally champs: Walkner (Bikes), Sainz (Cars), Nikolaev (Trucks), Casale (Quads), Varela (UTV)

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EDITOR’S NOTE: NBCSN will air additional Dakar Rally highlights on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. ET and Monday at 7 p.m. ET.

For most of the 545 entrants into this year’s 40th Dakar Rally, just four words remain: Wait ‘til next year.

That’s right, the 14-stage, 15-day Rally, which began January 6 in Lima, Peru, carried through Bolivia and concluded Saturday in Cordoba, Argentina.

Overall class winners were:

  • BIKES: Austria’s Matthias Walkner
  • CARS: Spain’s Carlos Sainz
  • TRUCKS: Russia’s Eduard Nikolaev
  • QUADS: Chile’s Ignacio Casale
  • SxS UTV: Brazil’s Reinaldo Varela

Here’s how the Rally finished both in Stage 14 and, more importantly, the overall final standings:

BIKES

One year after finishing second, Austrian Matthias Walkner did one better by capturing his first-ever Rally championship in the motorcycle class.

Walkner, 31, finished eighth in Saturday’s Stage 14, but it was good enough to earn him the title by more than 16 minutes ahead of Argentina’s Kevin Benavides, who won Saturday’s final stage.

It was also a big day for KTM, the brand of bike Walkner rode throughout the Rally, as the company captured its 17th consecutive Rally title.

Here’s the top 5 Stage 14 finishers:

1 Argentina’s Kevin Benavides, Honda, 1:26:41

2 Australia’s Toby Price, KTM, 1:27:35

3 France’s Antoine Meo, KTM, 1:29:30

4 Spain’s Daniel Oliveras Carreras, KTM, 1:30:06

5 France’s Johnny Aubert, Gas Gas, 1:31:00

FINAL OVERALL STANDINGS

1 Austria’s Matthias Walkner — CHAMPION

2 Argentina’s Kevin Benavides, 16:53 behind

3 Australia’s Toby Price, 23:01 behind

4 France’s Antoine Meo, 47:28 behind

5 Spain’s Gerard Farres, 1:01:04 behind

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CARS

South Africa’s Giniel de Villiers captured Stage 14, but it wasn’t close enough to unseat overall Rally winner Carlos Sainz of Spain.

Sainz had built a big lead and just had to maintain with defense, needing to finish just ninth in the final stage to take home his second consecutive Rally crown.

France’s Stephane Peterhansel finished second and Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah finished third to wrap up the final stage, but while both were strong challengers throughout the Rally, they were unable to overtake Sainz when they needed to do so the most.

As for American riders, Ricky Brabec had consistently finished most stages in the top 10 to top 20, including two stage finishes early on as high as fourth place.

But a poor run Saturday relegated him to a disappointing overall finish of 39th in the Rally.

Here’s the top 5 Stage 14 finishers:

1 South Africa’s Giniel De Villiers, Toyota, 1:26:29

2 France’s Stephane Peterhansel, Peugeot, 1:27:09

3 Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, Toyota, 1:17:10

4 Argentina’s Lucio Alvarez, Toyota, 1:27:12

5 Netherlands’ Peter van Merkstelin, 1:28:35

FINAL OVERALL STANDINGS

1 Spain’s Carlos Sainz — CHAMPION

2 Qatar’s Nasser Al-Attiyah, 43:40 behind

3 South Africa’s Giniel De Villiers 1:16:41 behind

4 France’s Stephane Peterhansel, 1:25:29

5 Poland’s Jakub Przygonski 2:45:24

AMERICAN RIDERS – Stage 14 finishes

13 Shane Esposito, KTM, 1:38:13

14 Mark Samuels, Honda, 1:38:22

25 Andrew Short, Husqvarna, 1:41:21

39 Ricky Brabec, Honda, 1:47:15

57 Bill Conger, Husqvarna, 1:53:38

AMERICAN RIDERS – FINAL OVERALL FINISHES

17 Andrew Short

21 Mark Samuels

25 Shane Esposito

39 Ricky Brabec

66 Bill Conger

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TRUCKS

While the Netherlands’ Ton van Genugten was one of the stronger performers in the latter stages of the Rally, including winning Saturday’s final stage, he could finish no higher than eighth in the overall standings.

Frankly, no one could do much in the final stages to unseat eventual champ Eduard Nikolaev of Russia, who obliterated his nearest competitors in the last few stages.

Nikolaev won the overall Trucks class by nearly a four hour advantage over Belarus’s Siarhel Vlazovich and nearly a 5 ½ hour edge over Russian teammate Ayrat Mardeev.

Here’s the top 5 Stage 14 finishers:

1 Netherlands’ Ton van Genugten, Iveco, 1:39:47

2 Czech Republic’s Martin Macik, Liaz, 1:39:58

3 Russia’s Dmitry Sotnikov, Kamaz, 1:43:22

4 Russia’s Eduard Nikolaev, Kamaz, 1:44:04

5 Netherlands’ Gert Huznik, Renault, 1:44:42

FINAL OVERALL STANDINGS

1 Russia’s Eduard Nikolaev — CHAMPION

2 Belarus’s Siarhel Viazovich, 3:57:17 behind

3 Russia’s Ayrat Mardeev, 5:22:34 behind

4 Kazakhstan’s Artur Ardavichus, 6:38:22 behind

5 Czech Republic’s Martin Macik, 7:58:45 behind

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QUADS

Here’s the top 5 Stage 14 finishers:

1 Chile’s Ignacio Casale, Yamaha, 1:43:25

2 Paraguay’s Nelson Sanabria Galeano, Yamaha, 1:44:46

3 Argentina’s Nicolas Cavigliasso, Yamaha, 1:45:01

4 France’s Alex Dutrie, Yamaha, 1:45:08

5 Argentina’s Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli, Yamaha, 1:46:27

FINAL OVERALL STANDINGS

1 Chile’s Ignacio Casale – CHAMPION

2 Argentina’s Nicolas Cavigliasso, 1:38:52 behind

3 Argentina’s Jeremias Gonzalez Ferioli, 2:08:14

4 Brazil’s Marcelo Medeiros, 4:30:00

5 Peru’s Alexis Hernandez, 4:38:53

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SxS UTV

Here’s the top 5 Stage 14 finishers:

1 Argentina’s Leonel Larrauri, Can-Am, 1:45:55

2 Brazil’s Reinaldo Varela, Can-Am, 1:53:59

3 France’s Patricie Garrouste, Polaris, 1:58:08

4 France’s Claude Fournier, Polaris, 2:01:12

5 Spain’s Jose Pena Campos, Polaris, 2:01:18

FINAL OVERALL STANDINGS

1 Brazil’s Reinaldo Varela – CHAMPION

2 France’s Patricie Garrouste, 57:37 behind

3 France’s Claude Fournier, 10:09:25

4 Spain’s Jose Pena Campos, 10:13:20

5 Argentina’s Leonel Larrauri, 27:54:15

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MORE: Dakar Rally daily stages schedule, NBCSN broadcast schedule, list of all competitors.

MORE: Stage 13 wrapup

MORE: Stage 12 wrapup

MORE: Stage 11 wrapup

MORE: Stage 10 wrapup

MORE: Stage 9 cancelled due to weather, impassible course conditions

MORE: Stage 8 wrapup

MORE: Stage 7 wrapup

MORE: Stage 6 wrapup

MORE: Stage 5 wrapup

MORE: Stage 4 wrapup

MORE: Stage 3 wrapup

MORE: Stage 2 wrapup

MORE: Stage 1 wrapup