Josef Newgarden captures 2017 IndyCar title at Sonoma

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SONOMA, Calif. – Josef Newgarden is the newest member of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ champion’s club, following a controlled drive to second place in today’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma season finale to win the 2017 series title.

Newgarden entered the race weekend with a three-point lead over Scott Dixon, and built that to four points after winning a crucial pole position on Saturday.

Now, Newgarden supplants Dixon as the most recent IndyCar champion under age 30. He’s 26 years old and Dixon was 28 in 2008, when he won his second of four career titles.

The 85-lap race at the 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway ran without a yellow flag and Newgarden, who started on pole in the No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, was the dominant driver for most of it.

However, while Newgarden led 41 laps, he was outdone in the race by teammate and 2016 IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud, who ran a four-stop strategy to perfection in his No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet to push harder throughout the race. The team ran three sets of Firestone red alternate tires.

Pagenaud made his final stop later in the race and then emerged ahead of Newgarden once he did. Newgarden attempted a pass at the Turn 7 hairpin, to the inside of the tight right-hander, but was not able to get past.

Pagenaud then had to encounter slower traffic in the final seven laps, which bunched the field up, and brought Newgarden within a few tenths of a second.

While the race was Pagenaud’s, his second of the year in the No. 1 car, he now loses his No. 1 banner on the car to Newgarden, who brought it home in second place.

Unofficial results are below.

Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool