April 7 in Motorsports History: Late tire stop propels Josef Newgarden

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In the final restart of IndyCar’s April 7, 2018 race at Phoenix Raceway, Josef Newgarden had eight laps to charge from fourth to first.

He was able to do it in just under half the time.

Almost immediately after the green flag waved, the Team Penske driver raced past Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe on the outside. He then set his sights on the race leader, Robert Wickens.

With four and a half laps remaining, Newgaden made his move on the rookie, passing Wickens on the outside as the cars entered Turn 1. He then scooted away and won by a margin of 2.995 seconds over Wickens.

As effortless as his charge to the front looked, Newgarden mostly was able to do it thanks to the help of his pit crew. With 18 laps remaining in the race, Newgarden, the leader at the time, came into the pits to get a fresh set of tires.

While the stop meant he would lose the lead, the fresh rubber clearly was superior, and for the eighth time in his career, Newgarden was a winner in IndyCar competition.

“I don’t think I did anything tonight, this was a team victory,” Newgarden told NBC Sports in Victory Lane. “They gave me the pit stops. They had the strategy. I was working with rocket scientists on the pit stand. Those guys are awesome!

“You never know if you made the right call, but they did. That Firestone rubber is good when it’s new.”

Despite finishing seconod, Wickens was also proud of his result. In just his second race in the series, the Canadian already had his first podium.

“To be honest, I was never expecting to win,” Wickens said. “When I found out that only three of us stayed out, I was just ecstatic to come home P2 because I thought we were kind of going to get killed there at the end.”

Also on this date:

1974: Bobby Unser won a 200-mile USAC Champ Car race at Trenton Speedway in Trenton, New Jersey. Trenton was a unique 1.5-mile kidney bean-shaped oval with a 20-degree right-hand dogleg on the backstretch. The facility hosted its last USAC race in 1979 and closed the following year.

1996: Damon Hill won the Grand Prix of Argentina, the third of eight victories in his championship season. Damon (son of Graham Hill) and Nico Rosberg are the only two Formula One champions whose fathers also won F1 titles.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994

Supercross reveals 2023 Daytona track designed by Ricky Carmichael for 16th time

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For the 16th consecutive year, Ricky Carmichael has designed a signature course for the Daytona Supercross race, which will be March 4, 2023.

Eli Tomac took advantage of a last lap mistake by Cooper Webb last year to win a record setting sixth Daytona race – and with that win, he broke out of a tie Carmichael.

Construction on the course will begin two days after the completion of the 65th running of NASCAR’s Daytona 500 when haulers start to unload 7,200 tons of dirt onto the grassy infield in order to create a course 3,300 feet long.

“Ricky has designed yet another incredible course for this year’s Daytona Supercross,” said Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher in a press release. “We’re thrilled to unveil it to the fans, and we can’t wait for them to come out to the track and see it in person.”

MORE: Designs for SuperMotocross finals at zMax Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway

Carmichael’s Daytona course will take center stage for Round 8 of the 17-race Supercross season and the 31-race SuperMotocross season.

The Supercross race coincides with Daytona’s Bike Week, which runs from March 3-12 and includes races from the American Flat Track series and the legendary Daytona 200 speedway race that is contested on the infield road course.

Last year’s course was reported to have 57 obstacles including the return of an over-under bridge. For 2023 the number of obstacles listed in 42, but that will not keep this from being one of the toughest tracks on which the Monster Energy Supercross series will race.

Many of the same elements from last year will be present including sharp turns, vaulted jumps, sand sections and a finish line that aligns with the oval tracks’ start/finish line.

“This year’s Daytona Supercross design is one of the best,” Carmichael said. “It races great for the riders – it’s safe yet challenging and it’s very similar to last year with the split lanes. Daytona is the toughest, gnarliest race on the Supercross circuit, but it’s the most special to win.

“This track is going to produce great racing and I think the riders are going to put on a fantastic display for all our fans.”

While Tomac has dominated this race during his career, Daytona has also been the site of some other dramatic victories. In 2021 Aaron Plessinger scored his first career Supercross podium in 35 starts with a win there and reversed a three-year streak of bad luck on the track.

The Daytona Supercross race is the first of two the series will contest on speedway infield courses. A little more than one month later, Atlanta Motor Speedway will enter their third season as a supercross venue. These two courses will serve as an early test for the SuperMotocross three-race finale that begins September 9, 2023 at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina. The three playoff races will each be held on courses that contain elements of Supercross and Motocross, much like Daytona and Atlanta.