The good news for Josef Newgarden and CFH Racing for the second straight short oval race in the Verizon IndyCar Series is that they could afford to be disappointed with a top-five finish.
Last week in Milwaukee it was a hard-luck fifth after starting from pole. Tonight at the Iowa Speedway, it was second after starting from seventh.
He’s also moved to the head of the field in an interesting statistic: laps led.
After leading a career-high 109 laps last week, he went two better with 111 tonight in Iowa.
Those two combined totals of 220 laps in two weeks, coupled with the 76 combined from his first two career wins at Barber and Toronto, have given the driver of the No. 67 Wichita State CFH Racing Chevrolet a total of 296 led this year.
It leads the field, with Will Power (270 laps) and Scott Dixon (250 laps) second and third.
Naturally, then, this serves as a transition to say that Newgarden was frustrated to come up second to Ryan Hunter-Reay in Iowa for the second straight year.
But it occurred in a different type of way. Like Hunter-Reay, the pair took new tires last year and were practically shot out of a cannon to propel their way to the front last year.
This year, the two Americans dominated the race, and Newgarden’s car was better in dirty air than it was one week ago. Unfortunately when compared with Hunter-Reay’s car head-to-head, Newgarden felt his car wasn’t a match.
“It was tough. In a shootout, if we were behind, we didn’t have quite the speed,” Newgarden told NBCSN’s Katie Hargitt post-race. “But we had a great racecar.
“You can’t beat riding around in an IndyCar. I’m really sad we lost that thing to be honest. In a shootout scenario, we didn’t have what we needed to win.”
Newgarden moves up to eighth in points and heads next to Mid-Ohio, a track where he was on course for his first career win before a brutal final pit stop knocked him out of the top 10.