In last year’s Grand Prix of Long Beach, it took less than five turns for Josef Newgarden to go from the thrill of leading the “lap of Newgarden’s life” according to NBCSN announcers, to the absolute worst feeling of seeing his and many other driver’s day end.
With 25 laps to go in the 2014 race, Newgarden exited pit lane, exiting in front of Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and James Hinchliffe as they quickly bore down on the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing driver.
Hunter-Reay hounded the back of Newgarden’s Honda for a handful of turns before attempting to squeeze passed on the inside.
It didn’t work.
“I was on cold tires. I knew RHR was on hot and would probably get me,” Newgarden recalled afterward. “But so little room in (Turn) 4, you normally can’t make a pass there. I tried to give him a little room. Next thing I knew I was in the wall. That shouldn’t happen up front.”
The resulting crash involved, Newgarden, Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe, Takuma Sato and Tony Kanaan, the last two blindly turning the corner and running into the cars that sat helplessly on the track.
Newgarden finished 19th, followed by Hunter-Reay, Hinchcliffe and Sato.
Hinchcliffe called his teammate’s decision “a rookie move” after the race, which was later won by Mike Conway. Any hard feelings didn’t seem to linger a few days later, as the Canadian driver made light of the situation and Hunter-Reay took the blame.