IndyCar: Strategy and drive come together for Newgarden in Texas win

6 Comments

There’s a new sheriff in town, and his name is Josef Newgarden.

After another brilliant call by race strategist Tim Cindric, Newgarden held off Alexander Rossi in a 12-lap shootout to win Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway – the third victory of the season for the NTT IndyCar Series championship leader.

“I knew we had a rocket ship,” Newgarden told NBC Sports following his victory. “It was just about getting to the front. We were better in the front than we were in the back, so I knew if we could gain some positions, we would be okay.”

“We’ve been close here before. Not necessarily at the end of the race, but I know we’ve had good cars here and we’ve not been able to just make it happen. One thing happens or another, so just to finally figure it out feels great.”

It may have been Newgarden’s raw talent that allowed him to win for the second consecutive weekend, but it was Cindric that put Newgarden in position to do so.

In last Saturday’s Race 1 of the Detroit Grand Prix, Cindric called Newgarden to the pits just before a yellow came out, allowing him to inherit the lead for good during the caution period.

In Texas, Cindric called Newgarden in on Lap 137 while under caution for Zach Veach’s spin on the backstretch, which put Newgarden off-sequence with the leaders.

Newgarden inherited the lead during the green-flag pit cycle before his final stop on Lap 198, but managed to come out ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay on track to keep the lead. He would remain up front for the rest of the race.

Rossi had to settle for his third runner-up finish in the last four races and slipped to 25 points behind Newgarden in the standings.

American drivers captured the top five positions at the finish, with Graham Rahal, rookie Santino Ferrucci and Hunter-Reay finishing third, fourth, and fifth respectively.

Though the night was great for them, other series regulars experienced a more disappointing evening at TMS.

Pole-sitter Takuma Sato led the first 60 laps of the race, but his race immediately went sour when he came into the pits for his first stop on lap 61.

Not only did Sato miss his pit stall, but he also hit his inside front tire changer, Chris Welch, in the process.

Welch’s head hit the pavement, but he was up on his feet minutes later because he was wearing a protective helmet. He was later evaluated and released from the infield care center.

On Lap 220, James Hinchcliffe’s great run ended when his car got loose exiting Turn 2, then spun into the inside wall on the backstretch. Hinchcliffe was uninjured, but disappointed.

“I’m just gutted for the No. 5 guys because the car was fast, the crew was good in pit lane. The car was quick when we needed it to be. We were just kind of working our way through it, but man, we just can’t catch a break,” Hinchcliffe said.

Lastly, defending race champion Scott Dixon and IndyCar rookie Colton Herta’s nights were cut short at Lap 229, when they made contact and wrecked in Turn 3.

Dixon took the blame for the incident and apologized to Herta, but a post-race tweet from Dixon’s wife, Emma, indicated that he had not seen a replay of the crash before speaking to NBC Sports – and that “he feels a lot differently about the situation now.”

Last year’s NTT IndyCar Series champion leaves Texas fourth in the standings, 89 points behind Newgarden. He had entered the night 52 points back following his win last Sunday in Detroit Race 2.

Click here for full race results

The NTT IndyCar Series now heads to the woods of Wisconsin for the REV Group Grand Prix at Road America on June 23. Live race coverage begins at 12 p.m. ET on NBC.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter 

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

0 Comments

Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.