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

0 Comments

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.”

 

Lessons learned in three rounds of Extreme E pay huge dividends in the Copper X Prix for Tanner Foust

Foust Copper X Prix
McLaren Racing
0 Comments

To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, unique trip it’s been for Tanner Foust in his first season with the Extreme E series as he took his early season lessons to Chile to compete in the Copper X Prix. And he’s learned his lessons well.

In February, McLaren announced they would expand their motorsports program with an Extreme E entry. They signed two talented rally drivers in Foust and Emma Gilmour – and paired them for the opening round in Neom, Saudi Arabia with just a few days of testing under their belts. Baked by the Arabian desert sun, it was trial by fire.

The duo performed well in their debut, advancing into the final round and finishing fifth. As Extreme E headed to another desert halfway across the globe for Round 4, it was a good time to catch up with Foust and ask about McLaren’s progress. The Copper X Prix was held this past weekend in one of the most extreme regions in the world: the Atacama Desert.

MORE: McLaren considering Kyle Busch for Indy 500

“The shock going into the first race was the speed,” Foust told NBC Sports. “It was much higher than we had tested. We spent a lot of time around 100 miles per hour [in race trim] and our testing speeds were more in the 60 to 70-mile range. Then, once we sort of got around that, the car got updated so you can drive it even faster.”

In rally racing, some incidents are out of a driver’s control. Even peeking around another car can be dangerous because of potholes that have recently been gouged in the ground or large bushes that seem to sprout up between laps. A couple of rollovers brought Foust back to earth – but the pace was there and that was important.

“We had some challenges this season,” Foust said prior to the Copper X Prix. “We had a good start; made the final, which is a difficult thing to do in this series. I had two rolls in the first three events, but I have improved each time. Now we come into Round 4 in Chile in a pretty strong position. We have competitive times as a team. We are communicating really well and have our heads around this Odyssey vehicle.”

Foust’s words proved to be prophetic.

He won the Crazy Race – Extreme E’s version of a Last Chance Qualifier – and did so after passing the field. It was the same manner in which he qualified for Saudi Arabia’s finale, but this time things would be better. There were those hard-earned lessons on which to lean – and Foust had reps under his belt. He was not going to be caught off guard by any random obstacles.

Tanner Foust passed Sebastien Loeb heading to the Switch Zone in the Copper X Prix. (Photo by Sam Bagnall / LAT Images)

In the Copper X Prix finale, he pressured one of the best rally drivers in the history of the sport.

Pitching sideways through a tight left-hander late in his stint, Foust put his McLaren Extreme E Odyssey at the head of the pack in front of Sebastien Loeb as they headed to the Switch Zone. There, he would turn the car over to his co-driver Gilmour.

The Extreme E series pairs male and female drivers with both taking a turn behind the wheel.

After the driver change, Gilmour lost the lead momentarily to Loeb’s teammate Cristina Gutierrez, but as they charged toward the finish line, she surged ahead and crossed under the checkers first.

“What an improvement for the team over this year,” Foust said after the race. “We have struggled through some of the events, being in our first year in competition. We showed true pace this weekend; overtaking Sebastien Loeb was a highlight.

“Emma put in a great run in the Final. I was fortunate to go from last to first in the Crazy Race and then first in the Final but with some flag penalties, we had 20 seconds added to our time, which put us into fifth. It was a great feeling crossing the line first, I love this wide style track and the NEOM McLaren Odyssey was fantastic here.

“Hopefully we can continue that momentum into Uruguay.”

Loeb and Gutierrez were elevated to the top of the podium, but no one can take away the feeling of crossing under the checkers first.


Racing Responsibly

Since cars were first invented, racing has played a socially responsible role by improving safety. As Earth reaches a tipping point with climate change, racing needs to adapt to these new needs and requirements, which is where Extreme E’s unique strategy becomes increasingly important.

The Extreme E experience is more than simple racing. Each race is accompanied by a legacy program designed to offset damage done by climate change and to erase the footprint caused by the events.

Foust, a biology major from the University of Colorado, was given the chance to rekindle his interest and give back to the environment ahead of the Copper X Prix.

The Atacama is the oldest desert in the world at 150 million years. It is the driest place on earth and has the highest degree of ultraviolet light. And yet somehow life perseveres through underground rivers with oases dating back to Incan times. Foust participated in preparing a local habitat for the reintroduction of a critically endangered water frog to Chile’s longest river, the Loa, which snakes its way through the desert.

“I’m loving the experience,” Foust said. “I’m putting on a lot of Chapstick, a lot of sunscreen. What a fascinating part of the world. I never would have come here otherwise.

“I honestly am very honored to be a part of this sport. I am a huge believer in the fact that motorsports has done us good in the last 100 years. I think we benefit every single time we put our seatbelts on and drive down the road to the lessons learned in racing since the turn of the century. And I really hope motorsports continues that tradition.

“I think that motorsports like [Extreme E] does it in a responsible way, a gender-neutral way and a carbon-neutral way.”