‘Redeemed’ Newgarden boosts series lead; Rossi not dismayed

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NEWTON, Iowa – Josef Newgarden’s convincing victory in a race that started Saturday night and ended Sunday morning has given the Team Penske driver a 29-point lead in the NTT IndyCar Series championship.

It was the latest local time start to an IndyCar Series race in history at 10:46 p.m. Central Time (11:46 Eastern) and it was by far the latest finish to a race in IndyCar’s very long history.

The checkered flag waved at 1:30 a.m. local time (2:30 a.m. ET) with Newgarden defeating hard-charging, five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon by 2.8527 seconds.

Alexander Rossi, who had closed to within four points of Newgarden’s lead in the championship after last week’s Honda Indy Toronto, finished sixth. Combine that with Newgarden’s win and Rossi’s deficit grew by 25 points.

Friday night practice for the INDYCAR Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway.

“I’m much happier tonight, I can tell you that,” said Rossi, who was short and terse after qualifying third during Friday’s qualifications. “I was really a little bit frustrated yesterday just because I knew we had a pole-winning car and we didn’t put it together. It’s competitive.

“I’m very competitive, and I don’t always show it, but you want to do well every session, every practice, every qualifying. You want to be the best. If you don’t want that, then why are you here?

“I feel much better tonight. I really wanted us to win the race. I thought we had a good car to do that, a car capable, a team capable. I’m really pleased we were able to execute as well as we did tonight. We just did a good, solid job, car was perfect, pit stops, great strategy from Tim and the boys. We got another win here.”

Newgarden, the 2017 NTT IndyCar Series champion, led 245 laps in the 300-lap race. When Newgarden won at Iowa in 2016, he set and IndyCar Series record for leading the most laps in a race when he led 282.

Last year, Newgarden led 229 laps but faded at the end of the race when he was passed by eventual winner James Hinchcliffe. Newgarden’s Team Penske squad threw away a guaranteed podium finish by pitting under yellow with less than five laps left believing the race would be restarted for a final dash to the checkered flag.

But the race ended under yellow and Newgarden finished fourth.

“We redeemed ourselves from last year, too,” Newgarden said. “Last year I felt we had the car. It honestly fell apart with the 100 laps to go. Why did it fall apart last year and how do we make it right again?

“I think we achieved that tonight.”

It was Newgarden’s fourth win of the season and the 14thIndyCar win of his career. It’s the fourth year in the past five that Newgarden has led the most laps and he has led more than 100 laps in all four of those races.

The race was supposed to be an early evening start at 6 p.m. local time but a heavy rain storm with lightning delayed the race for over four hours, making it a true night race.

Little did many of the drivers realize it would end up being a morning finish.

“It was fun that we raced under the lights,” Newgarden said. “If the weather didn’t happen, it wasn’t really going to be a night race. It was actually kind of nice that the weather delayed it from that standpoint.

“Every other standpoint, it wasn’t a good thing. No one likes waiting around. We certainly don’t like making the fans wait. The ones that went home, completely understandable, got pretty late there. The ones that stuck with us, it was really nice they got to see a full show. I think we’re all pretty pumped about that.”

Last week at Toronto, Rossi finished third and Newgarden fourth and that narrowed Newgarden’s lead to just four points. Despite Rossi closing from behind, Newgarden did not feel pressure to perform at Iowa.

“We finished fourth (at Toronto). That’s where we were,” Newgarden said. “The way I always drive is, it’s going to add up how it’s going to add up at the end of the year. You got to maximize your weekends that you can. I don’t think there’s urgency now.

“Look, there’s a lot of people still in it. We just got to make the most of each weekend. If you got a winning car, we try to win. If we have a fourth-place car, try to finish fourth. That’s what we’ve been doing.

“You’re going to have those ups and downs. But it’s about who rides it out the most even, I think, we’ll see where we tally up at the end.”

Rossi knew he was in for a difficult time because Iowa Speedway has historically not been one of his better tracks. He started sixth and finished sixth to equal his best career finish at Iowa in 2016.

“Tonight, was a hit,” Rossi said. “We knew this was going to be a hard one for us and it was. We got as many points as we could and that kind of became the name of the game from there on. From where we knew we were yesterday; I think the team did a good job of maximizing what we had.

“This is one tracks where we are missing something to the competition.”

When it comes to racing at Iowa Speedway, however, it appears Newgarden has the competition covered. And that has given him some extra breathing room in the championship fight as the series heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio next Sunday.

IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:


Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change