IndyCar Josef Newgarden
Chris Owens/IndyCar

Josef Newgarden rules IndyCar field in Iowa victory from the pole

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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.”

IndyCar Josef Newgarden
Josef Newgarden took the checkered flag for the third time in the NTT IndyCar Series at Iowa Speedway (Chris Owens/IndyCar).

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.”

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”