SONOMA, Calif. – Josef Newgarden is the newest member of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ champion’s club, following a controlled drive to second place in today’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma season finale to win the 2017 series title.
Newgarden entered the race weekend with a three-point lead over Scott Dixon, and built that to four points after winning a crucial pole position on Saturday.
Now, Newgarden supplants Dixon as the most recent IndyCar champion under age 30. He’s 26 years old and Dixon was 28 in 2008, when he won his second of four career titles.
The 85-lap race at the 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway ran without a yellow flag and Newgarden, who started on pole in the No. 2 hum by Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, was the dominant driver for most of it.
However, while Newgarden led 41 laps, he was outdone in the race by teammate and 2016 IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud, who ran a four-stop strategy to perfection in his No. 1 DXC Technology Team Penske Chevrolet to push harder throughout the race. The team ran three sets of Firestone red alternate tires.
Pagenaud made his final stop later in the race and then emerged ahead of Newgarden once he did. Newgarden attempted a pass at the Turn 7 hairpin, to the inside of the tight right-hander, but was not able to get past.
Pagenaud then had to encounter slower traffic in the final seven laps, which bunched the field up, and brought Newgarden within a few tenths of a second.
While the race was Pagenaud’s, his second of the year in the No. 1 car, he now loses his No. 1 banner on the car to Newgarden, who brought it home in second place.
Unofficial results are below.