Josef Newgarden wins rain-delayed race at Gateway; trails Will Power by three points


Winning a rain-delayed World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway race, Josef Newgarden made a charge in the NTT IndyCar Series championship standings Saturday night.

With his series-leading fifth victory (a personal best for the two-time champion), Newgarden closed within three points of teammate Will Power with two races remaining this season.

It also marked the fourth win at Gateway (and the third consecutive at the track near St. Louis) for the driver of Team Penske’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet.

RESULTS, POINTS: Click here for the full stats package from Gateway

Newgarden rebounded for his 25th career victory after losing the lead to teammate Scott McLaughlin during a pit stop exchange shortly before a red flag for rain on Lap 218.

The stoppage lasted more than two hours for rain, giving Newgarden (who was caught behind Christian Lundgaard on entry before his last pit stop) plenty of time to think about how the race nearly got away.

“I think this crew has been very patient with me,” Newgarden told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “I’ve lost my cool probably a couple of times (behind) closed doors out of frustration for us. We’ve had small miscues, timing-wise. That’s not really anybody’s fault. Just sometimes wrong time, wrong place. I feel like that’s been happening a lot this year. It kind of happened again tonight. We put ourselves in position, it’s time to close and there was just a barrier that got in front of us again.

“But fortunately, we were able to get back out. I was so happy we could finish this race. Scott McLaughlin wanted to win, too. I love that about him. We each want to win, but he drove me super fair at the end, and we had a good fight. It’s a big night for everyone at Team Penske.”

Newgarden, who also had a nervous moment when his car initially stalled when engines were refired, led the final 35 laps after seizing first from McLaughlin on Lap 225.

The green flag had waved a lap earlier for the first time in more than two hours on the 1.25-mile oval.

“We just had to have a good start,” Newgarden said. “I knew Scott was going to be good at the end there. He had a great restart. I just tried to work the high lane. It worked earlier for me, and I tried to do it again, and we just had enough to get by him. He was no slouch this weekend.

“Scott’s done an amazing job, he could have easily won this race himself. You have to give him credit. I’m glad we were able to come back out on top.”

Rookie David Malukas, who had made a pit stop just before the red flag, charged from fifth to a career-best second-place finish by passing McLaughlin on the final lap.

“Two laps to go, that was the lap I decided to do the outside lane, and it worked so well,” Malukas told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch. “So if I’d done it a bit sooner, maybe we could have had done something for Newgarden. Overall that’s a win for me, a win for the team. They deserve that so much.”

Said McLaughlin: “That’s racing. That’s oval racing. We love it. Want more of it. Dave’s move on the last lap, credit to him. He’s a phenomenal young kid, and I hope he goes far because the way he’s been coming up through the ranks. He’s been great all year.”

Pato O’Ward finished fourth, followed by Takuma Sato, Power, Marcus Ericsson, Scott Dixon, Alex Palou and Graham Rahal.

After starting on the pole position for a record-tying 67th time, Power faded from fourth to sixth after the race restarted.

“Once again, it was a good day with P6,” Power said. “Obviously, we wanted more. We made a mistake and didn’t (stop under) yellow. That’s IndyCar. It’s never straightforward. You expect that in the championship. It might come back to us in the next two in a different way. That’s how it is. We’ve got some good tracks coming up. Like I predicted, it will be a tough battle all the way to the end. I’ve been around a long time and know how these things go.

“The best thing about today is that we finished in the top-six, so that’s still pretty good.”

There are 58 points separating the top seven in the standings with two races remaining (Sept. 4 at Portland International Raceway and Sept. 11 at Laguna Seca Raceway).

Power is leading the championship race, followed by Newgarden (minus-3), Dixon (-14), Ericsson (-17), Palou (-43), McLaughlin (-54) and O’Ward (-58).

The 43-point margin separating the top five is the tightest with two races remaining since the IndyCar-Champ Car unification in 2008.

With throaty roar, NASCAR Next Gen Camaro is taking Le Mans by storm on global stage

Le Mans 24 Hour Race - Car Parade
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

LE MANS, France — The V8 engine of the NASCAR Chevrolet Camaro has a distinct growl that cannot go unnoticed even among the most elite sports cars in the world at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

When the Hendrick Motorsports crew fired up the car inside Garage 56, NASCAR chairman Jim France broke into a huge grin and gave a thumbs up.

“The only guy who didn’t cover his ears,” laughed seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson.

GARAGE 56 SPECS: Full comparison of NASCAR Cup car to Le Mans car

BUTTON’S BIG MOVE: Hendrick drone tour was NASCAR entryway for F1 champion

France has been waiting since 1962 – the year his father, NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., brought him to his first 24 Hours of Le Mans – to hear the roar of a stock car at the most prestigious endurance race in the world.

A path finally opened when NASCAR developed its Next Gen car, which debuted last year. France worked out a deal to enter a car in a specialized “Innovative Car” class designed to showcase technology and development. The effort would be part of NASCAR’s 75th celebration and it comes as Le Mans marks its 100th.

Once he had the approval, France persuaded Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear – NASCAR’s winningest team, manufacturer and tire supplier – to build a car capable of running the twice-around-the-clock race.

The race doesn’t start until Saturday, but NASCAR’s arrival has already been wildly embraced and France could not be more thrilled.

“Dad’s vision, to be able to follow it, it took awhile to follow it up, and my goal was to outdo what he accomplished,” France told The Associated Press. “I just hope we don’t fall on our ass.”

The car is in a class of its own and not racing anyone else in the 62-car field. But the lineup of 2010 Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller, 2009 Formula One champion Jenson Button and Johnson has been fast enough; Rockenfeller put down a qualifying lap that was faster than every car in the GTE AM class by a full three seconds.

The Hendrick Motorsports crew won its class in the pit stop competition and finished fifth overall as the only team using a manual jack against teams exclusively using air jacks. Rick Hendrick said he could not be prouder of the showing his organization has made even before race day.

“When we said we’re gonna do it, I said, ‘Look, we can’t do this half-assed. I want to be as sharp as anybody out there,” Hendrick told AP. “I don’t want to be any less than any other team here. And just to see the reaction from the crowd, people are so excited about this car. My granddaughter has been sending me all these TikTok things that fans are making about NASCAR being at Le Mans.”

This isn’t NASCAR’s first attempt to run Le Mans. The late France Sr. brokered a deal in 1976, as America celebrated its bicentennial, to bring two cars to compete in the Grand International class and NASCAR selected the teams. Herschel McGriff and his son, Doug, drove a Wedge-powered, Olympia Beer-sponsored Dodge Charger, and Junie Donlavey piloted a Ford Torino shared by Richard Brooks and Dick Hutcherson.

Neither car came close to finishing the race. McGriff, now 95 and inducted into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame in January, is in Le Mans as France’s guest, clad head-to-toe in the noticeable Garage 56 uniforms.

“I threw a lot of hints that I would like to come. And I’ve been treated as royalty,” McGriff said. “This is unbelievable to me. I recognize nothing but I’m anxious to see everything. I’ve been watching and seeing pictures and I can certainly see the fans love their NASCAR.”

The goal is to finish the full race Sunday and, just maybe, beat cars from other classes. Should they pull off the feat, the driver trio wants its own podium celebration.

“I think people will talk about this car for a long, long time,” said Rockenfeller, who along with sports car driver Jordan Taylor did much of the development alongside crew chief Chad Knaus and Greg Ives, a former crew chief who stepped into a projects role at Hendrick this year.

“When we started with the Cup car, we felt already there was so much potential,” Rockenfeller said. “And then we tweaked it. And we go faster, and faster, at Le Mans on the SIM. But you never know until you hit the real track, and to be actually faster than the SIM. Everybody in the paddock, all the drivers, they come up and they are, ‘Wow, this is so cool,’ and they were impressed by the pit stops. We’ve overachieved, almost, and now of course the goal is to run for 24 hours.”

The car completed a full 24-hour test at Sebring, Florida, earlier this year, Knaus said, and is capable of finishing the race. Button believes NASCAR will leave a lasting impression no matter what happens.

“If you haven’t seen this car live yet, it’s an absolute beast,” Button said. “When you see and hear it go by, it just puts a massive smile on your face.”

For Hendrick, the effort is the first in his newfound embrace of racing outside NASCAR, the stock car series founded long ago in the American South. Aside from the Le Mans project, he will own the Indy car that Kyle Larson drives for Arrow McLaren in next year’s Indianapolis 500 and it will be sponsored by his automotive company.

“If you’d have told me I’d be racing at Le Mans and Indianapolis within the same year, I’d never have believed you,” Hendrick told AP. “But we’re doing both and we’re going to do it right.”

Le Mans 24 Hour Race - Car Parade
Fans gather around the NASCAR Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 that is the Garage 56 entry for the 100th 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit de la Sarthe (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).

General Motors is celebrating the achievement with a 2024 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Garage 56 Edition and only 56 will be available to collectors later this year.

“Even though Chevrolet has been racing since its inception in 1911, we’ve never done anything quite like Garage 56,” said GM President Mark Reuss. “A NASCAR stock car running at Le Mans is something fans doubted they would see again.”

The race hasn’t even started yet, but Hendrick has enjoyed it so much that he doesn’t want the project to end.

“It’s like a shame to go through all this and do all this, and then Sunday it’s done,” Hendrick said. “It’s just really special to be here.”