Newgarden eats the competition alive in Iowa Corn 300

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NEWTON, Iowa – Josef Newgarden led 282 of 300 laps en route to his first win of the Verizon IndyCar Series season and third of his career in Sunday’s Iowa Corn 300 in a thoroughly dominant and unbelievable performance.

The win comes not even a full month after his accident at Texas Motor Speedway on June 12, when he sustained a fractured right clavicle and a small fracture on his right hand after contact with Conor Daly.

But Newgarden, who pressed through at Road America to finish eighth after starting 20th, looked fully back on form today in what was easily the greatest of his three career wins – and now sits second in the championship standings.

“I think we had a car like that last year. Man, it’s hard to not get emotional after these things! What a great car! ” Newgarden said in victory lane.

“Fuzzy’s Vodka…they enable us to do what we are doing here. Have a great team with Ed Carpenter Racing. Great team owner in Ed Carpenter. It is great, man. Best car I’ve ever had. Happy for my team. For my owner – he is a good dude. He takes good care of me. Just happy. This is so cool.

“Thanks to everyone in Iowa. I love this place. Love coming to Iowa. Love the fans here. Love running Indy cars around this place.  I hope we come back here for many, many years.”

“That guy’s awesome, and makes me look good,” added engineer Jeremy Milless, who engineers the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet.

Milless played a big part in the victory, as did JR Hildebrand, who tested the Ed Carpenter Racing entry last week while Newgarden opted to rest his right hand.

Newgarden had most – if not all – to do with it today in a beatdown reminiscent of days of old in North American open-wheel racing.

Newgarden started second and made it past polesitter Simon Pagenaud on the first lap.

He then led all but 18 of the remaining laps – losing the lead only on pit stop sequences – in a flawless effort from both him and the Carpenter pit crew the rest of the race to win by 4.2828 seconds.

He’d lapped up to Pagenaud in second place at one point, and by the end of the race, only the top five stayed on the lead lap.

Will Power, Scott Dixon, Pagenaud, Mikhail Aleshin and Alexander Rossi completed the top six.

Power’s run toward the front came late after the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet crew was fighting the setup on his car all day.

He made it past Dixon and Pagenaud in the waning stages and adds the runner-up finish to his back-to-back wins at Detroit race two and Road America.

Dixon got on the podium after a tough final practice, the team reverting back to its 2015 setup on the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and sorting out his issues.

Pagenaud drove smartly for points while Aleshin banked his second top-five finish of the season, top Honda driver of the day in the No. 7 SMP Racing Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda.

Rossi was sixth after another impressive drive in the No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda, although he had one moment where he ran wide off Turn 2 and nearly collected Tony Kanaan in the process.

Kanaan, who didn’t lead a lap despite leading both practice sessions, ended seventh after being caught out on a caution in the No. 10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, losing two laps.

Sebastien Bourdais and James Hinchcliffe drove from 16th and 22nd to eighth and ninth with Charlie Kimball recovering for a top-10 finish after dropping out of the top-15 early.

Helio Castroneves, who entered second in points, was another caught out on a caution and ended 13th. The same story was true for Graham Rahal who never had much luck and ended 16th. Newgarden’s teammate and team owner Carpenter had a gearbox issue on a pit stop and ended 18th with Max Chilton, Juan Pablo Montoya, Conor Daly and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounding out the field.

Chilton spun but resumed, a tough ending after qualifying fourth, with Montoya and Hunter-Reay having engine issues (one Chevrolet, one Honda respectively) and Daly retiring due to handling.

Results are below:

IowaUnofficial

Pagenaud holds an unofficial 73-point lead, a net loss of one coming into the day, over Newgarden with this result.

The series heads to Toronto next week for the Honda Indy Toronto.

 

James Hinchcliffe on Andretti: ‘It’s certainly the place I want to be’

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Since before the start of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season, James Hinchcliffe tirelessly has worked to ensure the future would include a full-time return in 2021.

And with an opportunity to run the final three races this season with Andretti Autosport, there seems a surefire (albeit unlikely) path.

“If I go out and win all three,” Hinchcliffe joked with IndyCar on NBC announcer Leigh Diffey in an interview Friday (watch the video above), “it would be hard for them to say no, right?”

Regardless of whether he can go unbeaten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course next weekend or the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida (where he earned his first career win in 2013), Hinchcliffe will have the chance to improve his stock with the team that he knows well and now has an opening among its five cars for 2021.

All three of Hinchcliffe’s starts this season — the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, July 4 at the IMS road course and the Indianapolis 500 — were with Andretti, where he ran full time in IndyCar from 2012-14.

“Obviously, the plan from January 2020 was already working on ’21 and trying to be in a full-time program,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed being reunited with Andretti Autosport, and everybody there has been so supportive. It’s been a very fun year for me on track. It’s been kind of a breath of fresh air in a lot of ways.

“It’s certainly the place I want to be moving forward. We’ve been working on that, working on those conversations. Genesys has been an incredible partner in my three races. We’ll be representing Gainbridge primarily, but Genesys will still have a position on our car in the last three.”

Gainbridge is the primary sponsor of the No. 26 Dallara-Honda that was vacated by Zach Veach, who left the team after it was determined he wouldn’t return in 2021. Hinchcliffe can empathize having lost his ride with Arrow McLaren SP after last season with a year left on his deal.

“You never want to earn a ride at the expense of somebody else in the sense that has happened here with Zach,” Hinchcliffe said. “I feel bad that he’s not able to see out the last three races of his season. I’ve got a lot of respect for him off track. He’s been a teammate this year, a colleague for years before that and honestly a friend for years before that. I’ve got a lot of time for him and his family. I understand a little bit of what it’s like in that position and what he’s going through.”

Hinchcliffe is ready to seize the moment, though, starting with the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He had been hoping to add the Harvest Indy Grand Prix to his schedule and had been working out for the possibility.

“Then last week I had given up hope (and) was resigned that wasn’t happening,” he said. “I told my trainer, ‘I think we’re done for this year.’ Three days later, this call comes. I’m glad we didn’t make that decision too early. I feel great physically.

“I look at it as a great opportunity to continue to show I’ve still got what it takes and should be there hopefully full time next year on the grid.”

Watch Hinchliffe’s video with Leigh Diffey above or by clicking here.