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.