Josef Newgarden came seemingly from nowhere to win the latest electrifying NTT IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
The 2019 championship leader fended off Alexander Rossi in a thrilling duel over the final 10 laps to capture the DXC Technology 600. Newgarden, in the No. 2 Fitzgerald USA Team Penske Chevrolet, won by 0.8164 of a second to collect his 13th career win, third this season and first on a superspeedway.
“Feels awesome to win here,” Newgarden said. “I knew we’d get it done here at some point. We’ve had fast cars (but) it never has materialized. Tonight, it happened.”
DXC TECHNOLOGY 600: Official race results
Starting seventh in the 22-car field, Newgarden didn’t lead until Lap 190 of the 248-lap event on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval. A lightning-quick final pit stop on Lap 198, accompanied by lightning-fast laps before and after the stop, put the 28-year-old Tennessean in position to retake the lead on the 202nd lap, and he never surrendered it.
“This win was down to the team,” Newgarden said. “I knew once we pitted and basically got back to where we were before the pit stop on the green-flag sequence, we had such a fuel advantage on everybody. If we could get to the lead, I could crank out super-quick laps and jump everybody. That’s what we did.”
Rossi, driving the No. 27 GESS/Capstone Honda, ran second behind Newgarden for the final restart on Lap 236. Time and again in the closing laps, Rossi pulled alongside as the duo launched into Turn 1, but each time Newgarden kept the low line and held off the Andretti Autosport driver.
Graham Rahal finished third, rookie Santino Ferrucci fourth and Ryan Hunter-Reay fifth. It marked the first time Americans swept the top five spots in an Indy car race since 2001 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, when Al Unser Jr., Mark Dismore, Sam Hornish Jr., Eddie Cheever and Robbie Buhl finished first through fifth.
Saturday’s race was the 31st for the NTT IndyCar Series at Texas Motor Speedway, which has become home to some of the most exciting finishes in history since the track opened in 1997. This year’s event was no exception.
The race ran caution-free for more than the first half, until Zach Veach brushed the SAFER Barrier exiting Turn 2 on Lap 135. The No. 26 Gainbridge Honda did a 360-degree spin but Veach kept it off the wall and came to a stop in Turn 3 with only slight suspension damage and a flat tire.
The second caution occurred when James Hinchcliffe slid wide into the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier on Lap 219. The final yellow waved when the cars of Scott Dixon and rookie Colton Herta touched while battling for third place in Turn 3 on Lap 229, sending both into the SAFER Barrier. All drivers were unhurt from the incidents.
“I just heard them saying the other car (Colton Herta) was looking inside and I started to track down to try and close it off,” commented Dixon. “It was towards the end of the race.
“As I was doing that and looking down, I could still see his shadow there on the apron and I knew it wasn’t going to work out there. Sorry if that was my fault. I was just really pushing and trying to get the most out of it toward the end of the race in the PNC Bank car.”
“(Scott Dixon) apologized and that’s what it seemed like from my point of view,” commented Herta. ” I (haven’t) seen a replay yet or anything, but he just turned down on me from my point of view. I was there and he put me on the apron. I was more than enough ahead. He didn’t need to do it. That outside lane was there and he could have run the outside. He must not have known (I was there).
“I’m really happy with how the car was. The GESS Capstone car (and) all the boys did an amazing job. Big congrats to INDYCAR for bringing the updates to the front wing and the new tires because it made the racing a hell of a lot better. We’ll keep trucking. This is a DNF (did not finish) that I’ll take because I was really happy with my performance.”
The caution for the Dixon-Herta incident set up the shootout to the finish between Newgarden and Rossi.
“I knew he was going to be difficult to beat,” Newgarden said of Rossi. “He had a great car. He drove me clean, he drove me hard.
“I think we had enough power there from Chevy. Our car was handling well enough out front (that) we could get the job done, pretty much stay on the throttle as much as we needed to just to stay ahead of him.”
With the win, Newgarden extended his lead in the standings to 25 points over Rossi and 48 over Team Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud, who finished sixth on Saturday.
Pole sitter Takuma Sato led the first 60 laps of the race until making his first pit stop in the No. 30 ABeam Consulting Honda. But the car slid into the pit stall and made contact with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing front tire changer Chris Welch. Sato was assessed a stop-and-go penalty for hitting a crewman. Welch was evaluated and released from the track’s infield care center.
Ferrucci collected a career-best fourth-place finish in the No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda for Dale Coyne Racing. Hunter-Reay led a race-high 90 laps in the No. 28 DHL Honda but was forced to make an extra stop for fuel and wound up fifth.
Tony Kanaan finished 16th in the No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet, in the 369th race of the Brazilian’s Indy car career. It tied Kanaan with team owner A.J. Foyt for second place on the Indy car all-time list. Kanaan also extended his record streak of consecutive race starts to 309.
1. (7) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 248, Running
2. (11) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 248, Running
3. (9) Graham Rahal, Honda, 248, Running
4. (18) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 248, Running
5. (4) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 248, Running
6. (5) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 248, Running
7. (14) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 248, Running
8. (3) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 248, Running
9. (15) Will Power, Chevrolet, 247, Running
10. (21) Marco Andretti, Honda, 247, Running
11. (19) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 247, Running
12. (16) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 246, Running
13. (13) Ed Carpenter, Chevrolet, 246, Running
14. (6) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 246, Running
15. (1) Takuma Sato, Honda, 245, Running
16. (22) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 245, Running
17. (2) Scott Dixon, Honda, 228, Contact
18. (10) Colton Herta, Honda, 228, Contact
19. (8) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 218, Contact
20. (12) Zach Veach, Honda, 172, Handling
21. (17) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 86, Mechanical
22. (20) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 73, Handling