Josef Newgarden wins shortened Detroit GP Race 1

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Josef Newgarden won an accident-filled Race 1 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix,  which was condensed into a 75-minute timed race after severe weather delayed the start for over an hour.

Newgarden held off pole sitter Alexander Rossi over a final green-flag run of 12-and-a-half minutes to take his second victory of the season (St. Petersburg).

In a near-repeat of last week’s Indianapolis 500, a Team Penske driver led Rossi to the checkers, followed by Takuma Sato in third place.

“How about that call from Tim?,” Newgarden told NBC Sports. “It was the perfect call to get us the position that we needed.”

The call Newgarden referred to was one made by Tim Cindric, his race strategist, to pit with 44 minutes remaining in the race – just before a yellow flag came out.

With the race leaders yet to pit, Newgarden took the lead during the yellow-flag cycle of stops. It was later reported that Newgarden had not received a full fuel load during his stop, but with help from multiple late-race cautions, Newgarden had enough fuel to make it to the end.

“We really wanted this one,” Newgarden said. “I can’t tell you how hard we worked in the off-season. This whole team made sure our street course cars were ready, and they were ready today.”

Entering 2019 with a focus on getting consistent results, Newgarden has followed through with two wins, four podiums and only one finish worse than fourth (15th at IndyCar Grand Prix – Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course) through the first 7 races.

And with today’s victory, Newgarden has reclaimed the NTT IndyCar Series championship lead by 25 points over Penske teammate and new Indy 500 champion Simon Pagenaud. Newgarden tied Pagenaud earlier in the day by being the fastest driver in his qualifying group, which earned him one championship point.

Pagenaud minimized damage with a nice recovery drive on Saturday, finishing sixth after qualifying mid-pack in 13th. He’s seeking to become the first Indy 500 winner to claim a victory in Detroit the following week.

Also having good runs were rookie Felix Rosenqvist, who broke a rough stretch by finishing fourth, and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who finished fifth to collect his third Top-5 so far this season.

On the flip side, two of IndyCar’s biggest names had costly setbacks.

Will Power climbed from 12th at the start into the Top-5, but on his stop with 40 minutes to go, the right front tire on his Chevrolet was not tightened enough. Moments later, Power lost the tire at pit exit. A subsequent drive-thru penalty for equipment out of the pit box and an unsafe release added further insult for the Australian, who finished 18th.

Then, with 31 minutes to go, it was Scott Dixon’s turn for trouble. After taking a restart in third, the defending series champion appeared to clip the inside wall in Turn 6 before stuffing his Honda into the tire barriers. It marked his first DNF since the 2017 race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Live coverage of Race 2 from Detroit begins with qualifying tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN, followed by the main event at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC. The forecast for tomorrow looks much better with clear skies and temperatures in the 60s expected come race time.

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F1 tests: Mercedes innovates with wheel adjustment system

Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images
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MONTMELÓ, Spain — Veteran Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time on the second day of Formula One preseason testing on Thursday, but Mercedes still garnered more attention by introducing an innovative wheel adjustment system.

On-board footage showed defending champion Lewis Hamilton pulling the steering wheel back and forth on the front straight to apparently change the angle of the front wheels on his Mercedes car.

The team stayed tight-lipped about the car’s new feature but guaranteed it was “safe” and “legal.”

“I probably won’t shed a great deal more light than what you saw on the TV but yeah we have a system in the car, it’s a novel idea,” team technical director James Allison told F1 TV. ”We’ve got a name for it, it’s called DAS, if you’re interested, and it just introduces an extra dimension for the steering, for the driver, which we hope will be useful during the year. But precisely how we use it and why we use it, that’s something we will keep to ourselves.”

Allison said governing body FIA knew in advance that the team was introducing the new system.

“It’s something we’ve been talking to them (about) for some time,” he said. “The rules are pretty clear about what’s permitted on steering systems and we’re pretty confident that it matches those requirements. I’m pleased we got it on the car, it seems to be useful, and we’ll see over the coming days how it benefits us.”

Hamilton said he was still trying to get used to the system, but praised the team for coming up with the innovation.

“I’ve only had one morning on (it, so) I don’t really have a lot to talk about with it. We’re trying to get on top of it, understand it, but safety-wise no problem today and the FIA are OK with the project.

“For me it’s really encouraging to see that my team is continuing to innovate and stay ahead of the game, and I think that’s down to the great minds in the team and so hopefully that’ll work to our benefit.”

Hamilton led the time charts on Wednesday but was only ninth-fastest on Thursday.

MORE: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas fastest in Day 1 of F1 practice
MORE: Sergio Perez fastest early on Day 2 of F1 Practice

The 40-year-old Raikkonen, who has a chance this season to break the record for most race starts in F1, was fastest with a time of 1 minute, 17.091 seconds in his Alfa Romea. He was 0.2 seconds quicker than Sergio Pérez with Racing Point. Daniel Ricciardo of Renault was third.

Raikkonen caused a red flag near the end of the afternoon session when his car stopped on the track with an apparent mechanical issue. The Finnish driver had spun earlier in the session, as did Valtteri Bottas of Mercedes, Romain Grosjean of Haas and Pierre Gasly of Alpha Tauri, formerly known as Toro Rosso.

Grosjean had the most laps among the 13 drivers who went to the track on Thursday, with 158.

Bottas was the slowest driver of the day, while Sebastian Vettel was sixth-fastest with Ferrari.

Pérez had set the quickest time in the morning session. The Mexican driver had been third fastest on Wednesday, behind Hamilton and Bottas.

Drivers will be back on the track on Friday to close out the first week of testing. Teams will have another three days to test next week.

Preseason testing has been reduced from eight to six days to help compensate for the record 22 races on the calendar, including a new Vietnam Grand Prix and the return of the Dutch GP. Midseason testing also has been eliminated.

The season opens on March 15 at the Australian GP.

The Barcelona-Catalunya track will host the Spanish GP on May 10.