NEWTON, Iowa — Pato O’Ward pounced on Josef Newgarden’s misfortune Sunday to win the second race of the Iowa Speedway doubleheader, and Jimmie Johnson had the first top-five finish of his IndyCar career.
Newgarden dominated and led 148 of the 300 laps while trying to sweep the weekend. But something on the Team Penske’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet broke with 64 laps remaining, and he spun hard into the outside wall.
Newgarden was visibly rattled after his mandatory check in the infield care center. He later fell after the race ended and was airlifted to Mercy One Des Moines Medical Center for further evaluation of a possible head injury.
O’Ward actually made the pass for the win on pit road with a speedy stop by his Arrow McLaren SP team and held off Penske teammates Will Power and Scott McLaughlin for the win. It’s the second win of the season for the Mexican driver, who finished second on Saturday and remains firmly in the IndyCar title race with five races remaining.
Pato is PUMPED!
— INDYCAR on NBC (@IndyCaronNBC) July 24, 2022
O’Ward’s win also halted Team Penske’s dominance on the 0.894-mile oval, where Roger Penske’s drivers had won six of the last seven races prior to Sunday.
Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing finished fourth and was followed by teammate Johnson, who raced hard with Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson to earn his best finish through two seasons of IndyCar racing. Ericsson is also a Ganassi driver and Newgarden’s crash helped the Swede retain the lead in the IndyCar standings – making Johnson’s aggressive racing a bit nerve-racking for the Ganassi camp.
It was another podium sweep for Chevrolet, who did it on Saturday with Newgarden, O’Ward and Power.
Newgarden was scored as the points leader at the time of his crash and dropped to fourth in the standings following his crash.
RAHAL RETURNS: Team owner Bobby Rahal had been noticeably absent from the track for nearly two months and confirmed Sunday that the 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner underwent a triple bypass.
Rahal told The Associated Press he went for a routine annual physical on May 5 and doctors discovered he’d unknowingly suffered a heart attack – maybe two – and found 100% blockage in his left anterior descending artery.
Rahal assumed surgery would be immediate but it actually didn’t happen until June 6. He appeared slimmed down ahead of Sunday’s race, only the second IndyCar race the owner of Rahal Letterman Lanigan has attended since that May physical.
“Surprised he leaked the news, but nonetheless it’s been an intense couple months for our family,” son Graham Rahal wrote on Twitter. “We’re ultra lucky to still have dad with us, very lucky, but now he’s good for another 100k miles we think! Many had asked where he’s been, now you have your answer.”