IndyCar Texas: Newgarden pips O’Ward to win thriller
Josef Newgarden scored his third Texas IndyCar win under caution after an epic battle with Pato O’Ward and Alex Palou ended when Romain Grosjean crashed on the penultimate lap.
Polesitter Felix Rosenqvist didn’t last a lap in the lead, the Arrow McLaren losing out to Scott Dixon’s Ganassi entry at the end of the first lap, and then Penske’s Newgarden, and fellow McLaren drivers Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi demoted him to fifth. Newgarden and Dixon swapped the lead twice before Newgarden moved to the head of the field and eked out a small gap.
O’Ward took second from Dixon on lap 9, while Palou passed the battling Rossi and Rosenqvist to grab fourth and then moved past team-mate Dixon for third.
At the front, Newgarden’s lead was out to around a second by lap 30, with the next nine runners lined up around 0.8s apart. As they hit traffic, Newgarden’s advantage was slashed but by lap 40 the gap was back out to 1.5s.
Grosjean passed Power for seventh on lap 45, and Power suddenly dropped backward in a hurry. As the pack started to smother him, Sato got out of the groove, went high at Turn 2, struck the outside wall and then speared across the track to strike the inside wall side-on.
In the pitstops under caution, Kyle Kirkwood’s Andretti Autosport car came into his pitbox just as the driver he replaced at AA, Rossi, was sent out of his pitbox. Kirkwood swooped in from the outside ‘fast lane’ and his left rear made contact with Rossi’s right front, whose car needed a new toelink. Race control deemed Rossi’s team at fault for an unsafe release, so he had to take a drive-through penalty when his suspension was fixed.
Newgarden, O’Ward, Palou, Dixon and Rosenqvist retained the top five positions but Grosjean was up to sixth ahead of team-mate Colton Herta. Scott McLaughlin was the big winner, up to eighth ahead of Indy 500 winner Marcus Ericsson, while Devlin DeFrancesco was up to 10th.
The lap 60 restart saw Newgarden appear to make a break, but Palou jumped O’Ward and was swiftly onto Newgarden’s tail. The pair ran side-by-side for two laps, Palou then dropped back, then pounced again to snatch the lead, but only for two laps before Newgarden wrested the lead back.
Patricio O'Ward, Arrow McLaren Chevrolet
Photo by: Brett Farmer / Motorsport Images
Another man moving forward was Grosjean who tried to take O’Ward for third but then eased back, remaining ahead of Dixon, and the battling Herta and McLaughlin who had passed Rosenqvist. Malukas and Ilott completed the top 10, while Power dropped down the order, getting passed by rookies Agustin Canapino and Benjamin Pedersen to run 17th.
At the sharp end, O’Ward passed Palou for second on lap 76, and a lap later Palou also lost out to Grosjean, and a lap after that he was demoted by Dixon, too.
Such was Newgarden’s pace and Power’s struggles, the race leader lapped the reigning champion who was in 23rd. Five laps later, Power was brought in for fresh tyres, while Kirkwood pitted with smoke from his right-rear upright, and got out of his car.
Newgarden’s lead over O’Ward was out to 1.9s before the leader pitted, leaving the Arrow McLaren with a 4.5s lead over Grosjean, Dixon and Palou. Grosjean stopped next, while O’Ward and Dixon went a lap longer.
By the time O’Ward emerged, his deficit to Newgarden was out to four seconds, but he held a similar advantage over Grosjean. Dixon and Palou were fourth and fifth, well ahead of McLaughlin and Herta.
O’Ward started cutting into Newgarden’s advantage, immediately after their stops, however, and from lap 125, the halfway point of the race, the Penske driver was only half a second ahead. Five laps later O’Ward took the lead, and when Newgarden tried to retaliate, the McLaren driver held firm on the inside line.
Over the next 30 laps, O’Ward stretched his lead out to well over five seconds. By lap 160, O’Ward and Newgarden were the only drivers on the lead lap as O’Ward whipped past Grosjean.
McLaughlin and Malukas pitted from the top 10, but McLaughlin ran long so his stop was delayed, while Newgarden stopped on lap 164, with Grosjean stopping the following lap.
O’Ward’s third stop wasn’t great – a delay on the left rear – but he was still five seconds ahead of Newgarden. Palou’s #10 Ganassi crew got their man out ahead of Grosjean to claim third, but the Andretti driver remained ahead of Dixon, whose nearest challenger was no longer Herta, but Malukas.
Behind Herta, Rosenqvist – who made his third stop late – came out in eighth, ahead of the delayed McLaughlin, but the #6 Arrow McLaren went high through Turn 3 and drifted up into the wall at Turn 4.
Under the ensuing yellow, O’Ward and Newgarden pitted as soon as the pits opened, and they now had 68 laps to try and get to the finish. The other drivers took the wave-around before pitting – and Newgarden stopped too, to take on more fuel, whereas O’Ward would need to save more. It looked like a potentially winning move from Tim Cindric and the #2 team.
But it did mean that Malukas was now up to a legitimate second. Behind Newgarden, were Palou and Grosjean, while Herta got out ahead of Dixon, who gave him a little nudge off pitlane.
Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet
Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images
Newgarden made a brilliant restart to get around the lapped cars and move up on O’Ward to run side-by-side, but Palou took advantage of their battle to get past both of them down the back straight.
Newgarden took the lead briefly but Palou retaliated. As they and O’Ward battled for the lead – which neither of them particularly wanted as the leader burns more fuel – surged through to lead for four laps. However, Herta too had ceded the lead to Palou by the time the yellow flew for Sting Ray Robb striking the wall at Turn 2 and then bouncing back across the track to take a front-left impact on the inside wall.
Most of the field stopped again to eliminate fuel worries, but Palou stayed out ahead of Grosjean, Herta and Dixon. Of the stoppers, O’Ward ran fifth ahead of Newgarden and McLaughlin.
On the lap 220 restart, Grosjean managed to pull off a pass on Palou and lead for two laps, but the charging O’Ward got past them both to hit the front, and Newgarden was up to third. Then there was a fifth yellow, as DeFrancesco’s hobbled car, following a wall-strike slowed and meandered into Graham Rahal’s path. The RLL car launched off the left rear of the Andretti car and struck the wall.
Under yellow, Newgarden, Dixon and Grosjean stopped again and emerged in third, eighth and seventh respectively. Thus the order for the restart was O’Ward, Palou, Newgarden, Herta, Malukas, McLaughlin, Grosjean, Dixon, Ericsson and Helio Castroneves, the latter pair one lap down. O’Ward got away strongly on the restart but Palou grabbed the lead until lap 242 when the resurgent Newgarden went around the outside of the Ganassi car to hit the front.
But O’Ward wasn’t done yet and retaliated to pass Palou and attack Newgarden. The pair even banged wheels when they crossed the line, while behind them the pair were chased by Palou, Malukas, Grosjean and Dixon.
However, as Grosjean and Malukas battled side by side, the Andretti driver had to check up because of Palou slowing ahead, and as he got back on the gas, Grosjean wiggled out of control and into the wall.
The field finished under yellow, with Newgarden taking his third Texas win ahead of a frustrated O’Ward, Palou, Malukas and Dixon.
McLaughlin claimed sixth ahead of Herta, while Grosjean’s demise moved Ericsson, Ilott and Castroneves into the top 10.
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