After first pole, Josef Newgarden happy to be disappointed with fifth in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE – When fifth place is a disappointment, it’s a good day.

And thus, that was the story of Josef Newgarden’s ending to a Sunday, and a weekend, which held so much promise after sweeping the preliminary sessions at the ABC Supply Co. Wisconsin 250 at Milwaukee IndyFest presented by the Metro Milwaukee Honda Dealers.

Newgarden led both first and second practice in the No. 67 Direct Supply CFH Racing Chevrolet, and then backed it up in warmer temperatures for his first career Verizon IndyCar Series pole Sunday afternoon at the Milwaukee Mile.

In the race, he looked dominant when in the lead. Newgarden led the opening 54 laps and again from Lap 60 to 100, so for 94 of the opening 100 circuits, as was good in clean air.

But after the second round of pit stops, Newgarden lost a spot to Scott Dixon, and the ensuing first caution flag after James Jakes had a mechanical issue meant a flurry of caution flag stops. The jumbled order left Newgarden in 11th.

From there, he rebounded to fifth, and led 14 more laps for a total of 109 in the race – a career-high.

“Probably when we got behind Dixon that didn’t help,” Newgarden told MotorSportsTalk post-race. “Then when we followed him in we lost track position, and Bourdais had track position.

“That was what it was all about. You had to have track position. Even if he had newer scuffed tires, Bourdais could hold him off because he had track position. I think we had the fastest car in clean air. In dirty air we weren’t the best. We didn’t have it all day.”

Newgarden’s fifth place finish was his first top-five of the year that wasn’t a win, after winning the Barber and Toronto rounds earlier this summer.

“You finish fifth and you’re not happy about it, that’s a good thing,” he said. “We needed better track position. But it was still a great effort and a good team run.”

Newgarden ranks ninth in points going into Iowa Speedway, where he finished second last year.

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing
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Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed to allow crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.