Newgarden makes costly mistake at Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

Leave a comment

STEAM CORNERS, Ohio – Josef Newgarden made a major error on the final lap of Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio and that mistake proved costly in his quest for the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship.

The Team Penske driver was set to finish fourth in Sunday’s 90-lap contest when he saw an opening entering the Turn 2 area of the road course, known as the “Keyhole.” Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Honda was stacked up in pursuit of the lead two cars driven by the leader, Scott Dixon, and rookie driver Felix Rosenqvist.

Newgarden knew Dixon’s lap times were falling off dramatically as his tire grip deteriorated and he believed he could win the race on the final lap.

Instead, Newgarden’s Chevrolet banged into the side of Hunter-Reay’s Honda, sending the 2017 IndyCar Series champion off course. The engine stalled, lost power and Newgarden’s race was over.

“I’m not really sure what Josef (Newgarden) was thinking there doing that,” Hunter-Reay said afterwards. “He tried to go around the outside, and the line through that corner is that you do a diamond and you come back to the apex, so he had to expect I was coming back at some point, and then just shoved his nose in there.

“I don’t know, with the championship like that, leader, totally baffled me. I’m just glad it didn’t cut down our right rear tire after fighting like that all day.”

Dixon went on to win the race followed by Felix Rosenqvist, just 0.0934-of-a-second behind in one of the closest finishes in the history of the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Hunter-Reay finished third followed by Team Penske’s Will Power and Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport fifth.

Newgarden finished 14th, the first car one lap down as his car was stranded off course. Add it all up and Newgarden’s 29-point lead in the standings is now just 16 points over Rossi heading into a two-weekend break in the schedule.

“It could have been a really good day and I just forced the issue on something that was real low reward; and high risk,” Newgarden told NBC Sports.com after a lengthy consultation with his race engineer, Gavin Newsom. “You see what happened on the risk side of it. It ended up dropping us out of points.

“It was a silly error to make on a day where we could have had fourth-place points. It’s a shame. We go on to the next one.

“It’s always tough when you make an error.”

Newgarden said he had a run on Hunter-Reay and that created an opportunity.

“I thought he was going to go a bit wider when I tried to brake on the outside, I tried the over-under, he didn’t go as wide as I thought and he made contact,” said Newgarden, who led 11 laps in the race. “I lost the engine. It was as simple as that.

“It wasn’t wise. It wasn’t wise for sure. It certainly hurts. It doesn’t help.”

Newgarden said he will re-set and move on to the next race. But that isn’t until August 18 in the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.

Newgarden is a racer and it’s not in a racer’s mentality to just “settle for fourth.” He saw an opening and went for it.

“My instinct is always to go for it,” Newgarden said. “It’s not always the right instinct, but it is my natural instinct.

“Poor decision, probably. I was just trying to get on the podium. I just got inside of him, and lost power — it pushed me around and I lost power” on edge of track.

“I made a mistake. Don’t do it again. That’s all you tell yourself.

“We still have four races to go. Long journey.”

 

Steve Torrence takes NHRA points lead with Gatornationals victory

NHRA Gainesville Steve Torrence
Jeff Robinson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Two-time defending NHRA Top Fuel champion Steve Torrence took the points lead Sunday in the AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals, beating his father, Billy, in the final round at Gainesville Raceway.

Torrence had a 3.809-second run at 322.11 mph to win for the third time this year and 39th overall. He is now on track for another championship despite missing the season opener.

“We’ve got some good momentum and to be in the points lead, it’s a testament to how hard these guys work,” Steve Torrence said after the NHRA Gainesville victory. “We’ve just got to stay focused and concentrate on what the task at hand is, and that’s trying to win a championship. These guys give me an unbelievable race car and you just try not to screw it up.”

Ron Capps won in Funny Car, Alex Laughlin in Pro Stock and Matt Smith in Pro Stock Motorcycle.

Capps raced to his second win this year and 66th overall, beating Tim Wilkerson with a 3.937 at 323.12 in a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.

Laughlin topped Aaron Stanfield with a 7.068 at 204.76 in a Chevrolet Camaro for his first win this season and fourth in his career. Smith rode to his first victory in 2020 and 25th overall, topping Andrew Hines with a 6.843 at 196.99 on an EBR.