Phoenix IndyCar: Penske's Newgarden wins late showdown with Wickens

Reigning IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden took his first win of 2018, defeating Schmidt Peterson Motorsports's Robert Wickens after a late full-course yellow caused a seven-lap showdown at Phoenix

Phoenix IndyCar: Penske's Newgarden wins late showdown with Wickens

Wickens led the majority of the first race of the season at St Petersburg on his series debut before a late clash with Alexander Rossi, and once again he starred in Phoenix.

This was Wickens first-ever oval race, and his SPM team expertly pulled off an undercut on the Penske duo of leading racer Will Power and Newgarden midway through.

But Penske responded in the final stint, with Newgarden pitting early in the last planned pitstop window to take a fuel gamble.

That meant Newgarden kept inside the top five and he then got a lucky break when the impressive Ed Jones crashed out of second place after he went off-line and into the outside wall.

That opened the door to strategic variance, with the top three of SPM duo Wickens and James Hinchcliffe and Andretti Autosport's Rossi staying out on old tyres.

Newgarden used the full-course yellow to take on new tyres and the advantage told in the final seven laps, despite several expert blocks from Wickens.

The Penske driver then managed to make a swift pass on Wickens into Turn 1 around the outside to take a comfortable win.

Wickens held on to finish second, with Rossi taking a surprise third after a disastrous start to his day.

The former Manor Formula 1 driver went a lap down after he made an error entering his pitbox on the first stint that earned him a drivethrough penalty.

He was then the fastest car on track for swathes of the race, making over 20 passes for position during the race to get back into the lead battle.

Despite his older tyres, Rossi held off Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon for fourth. Dixon had started 18th but made progress in the early stops to make up ground.

While Rossi narrowly stayed ahead, SPM's Hinchcliffe struggled on the aged tyres and fell back on the restart to sixth ahead of Ed Carpenter.

Tony Kanaan finished eighth for AJ Foyt ahead of Graham Rahal and Simon Pagenaud.

Pagenaud had started on the front row of the grid alongside polesitter Sebastien Bourdais but a mix-up in the pits when the Penske driver asked for a wing adjustment cost him time, which was then compounded by a slow getaway.

Bourdais also lost his chance of victory in the pitlane.

Before the race even began, polesitter Bourdais stalled in the pitlane - narrowly making the grid after a late restart of the car.

Working without telemetry, Bourdais made an excellent start to lead through the first stint. But when he ended it, the DCR driver collided with his front right tyre jackman and earned a drivethrough penalty that put him a lap down.

He cycled into the lead late in the race off-sequence, but a yellow flag did not materialise meaning he had to put under green and fall back to a finishing position of 13th.

DCR debutant Pietro Fittipaldi crashed out after running high and colliding with the outside wall, and reigning Indy Lights champion Kyle Kaiser also retired in his first IndyCar race after contact with the wall.

Race result

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Gap
1 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 250 1h44m00.3552s
2 Robert Wickens Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda 250 2.9946s
3 Alexander Rossi Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 250 3.4890s
4 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda 250 3.8175s
5 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 250 4.0122s
6 James Hinchcliffe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda 250 9.4497s
7 Ed Carpenter Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 250 9.4731s
8 Tony Kanaan AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Chevrolet 250 9.8650s
9 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara/Honda 250 10.1747s
10 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 250 10.3247s
11 Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara/Honda 250 10.9443s
12 Marco Andretti Andretti Herta Dallara/Honda 249 1 Lap
13 Sebastien Bourdais Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 249 1 Lap
14 Spencer Pigot Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 249 1 Lap
15 Gabby Chaves Harding Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 249 1 Lap
16 Zach Veach Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 249 1 Lap
17 Charlie Kimball Carlin Dallara/Chevrolet 248 2 Laps
18 Max Chilton Carlin Dallara/Chevrolet 247 3 Laps
19 Matheus Leist AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Chevrolet 241 9 Laps
20 Ed Jones Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda 228 Contact
21 Kyle Kaiser Juncos Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 174 Contact
22 Will Power Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 153 Contact
23 Pietro Fittipaldi Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 40 Contact


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