Rebounding from a disappointing finish that left the normally congenial two-time IndyCar champion spitting nails, Josef Newgarden dominated from the pole position Saturday night to win at Iowa Speedway.
Newgarden, who had finished fifth Friday with perhaps an even faster No. 1 Dallara-Chevrolet that caught unlucky breaks on caution flags, took the checkered flag nearly 3 seconds ahead of teammate Will Power, who also found redemption after he crashed in Friday’s race.
It’s Team Penske’s first 1-2 finish since Simon Pagenaud, Newgarden and Power finished 1-2-3 at Sonoma in 2017 (when Newgarden clinched his first title). It’s also the 15th victory of Newgarden’s NTT IndyCar Series career and his third the 0.894-mile oval in Newton, Iowa.
RESULTS, POINTS: Full stats package from Saturday at Iowa
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING: Postrace quotes from the full IndyCar field
The two-time series champion led a race-high 214 of 250 laps in becoming the first IndyCar winner from the pole position at Iowa and gave Team Penske a sweep of the weekend with Friday race winner Simon Pagenaud, who finished fourth Saturday.
“Feels really good; I don’t know what we’ve got to do to keep the bad luck off us but hopefully this is a start,” Newgarden, who also was fastest in practice Saturday afternoon, told NBCSN pit reporter Kelli Stavast. “Our guys did an amazing job yesterday. I was so disappointed for them. I was angry for them because I thought they had the winning car.
“They put in the work and weren’t able to get rewarded for it. I was so determined to come back today. I think everyone was determined to come back and have a really good race, and we just ran hard. We ran hard all day. I’m so proud to be powered by Chevrolet. I felt like we had the package to beat. Fuel mileage, durability, we had the power. To have Hitachi back on, I think that’s a good luck charm for us. So, thank you, Hitachi. Thanks to everyone at Team Penske back at the shop. I’m just thrilled to finally get this monkey off our back.”
So was Power, who matched his season best with the second after consecutive races in which he spun and was penalized last Sunday at Road America and slammed the wall Friday with a wheel left loose by his team.
“It feels good just to have a solid day,” Power said on NBCSN. “I have to thank Verizon, Chevy for all the support. Yeah, man, we would have loved to have the win, of course. But it’s seeming like if you did a good job in this series, you just get screwed.
“So, I’m glad for once we actually get a good result out of it. Soldier on, man. I’m exhausted. I look forward to trying to have a good rest of the season. I don’t know what it is I have to do to have normal races like (Scott) Dixon and Pagenaud. Even if those guys qualify last, they end up at the front. Maybe I just try less and be a much worse driver, and I’ll do way better.”
Graham Rahal finished third Saturday, and points leader Dixon rounding out the top five.
Rookie Oliver Askew, Jack Harvey, Alexander Rossi, Tony Kanaan and Marcus Ericsson rounded out the top 10.
Other drivers who endured tough breaks in Saturday’s race:
–After finishing fourth Friday, Pato O’Ward was on track for a podium before a botched pit stop on Lap 171. Because of miscommunication, O’Ward left before his left rear tire was secured, which necessitated rolling his No. 5 Dallara-Chevy back into the pit stall and losing two laps.
–It was the second dismal outing in a row at Iowa for Ed Carpenter, who brought out the first yellow when he smacked the wall in Turn 2 and finished last (after finishing three laps down in 15th Friday).
–For the second consecutive night, Ryan Hunter-Reay tagged the wall on pit exit with his No. 28 Dallara-Honda, but unlike Friday when he got away with brushing the wall, a bent suspension knocked him from Saturday’s race.
“Absolutely down to me,” Hunter-Reay told NBCSN pit reporter Dillon Welch. “It’s got to be better than that. I was looking to make a lot of time on that out lap, and I short shifted out of second gear knowing first gear was my problem last night. I got in second, and it just came around. Almost caught it. Almost doesn’t count.
“It sucks. The guys on the 28 team don’t deserve that. We had a rough night. We were hanging on. Really looking forward to getting the ball rolling for the season. It’s been one thing or another. This is down to me. I’m just pushing 110 percent and asked a little too much of it there.”