It was Joseph Newgarden’s classic Iowa performance as the two-time NTT IndyCar Series Champion owned a 250 Lapierre and took a huge step towards taking the lead in the standings.
Driving 208 laps in a No. 2 Chevy, Newgarden drove former teammate and podium sitter Will Power’s engine in an early restart and never looked back. Other than the warnings of lone wrecks by Felix Rosenqvist and Ed Carpenter, there wasn’t much that could slow down the Newgarden who used to escape whoever was chasing after him.
The checkered flag waved over Penske’s driver, 6.1secs ahead of Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward in the #5 Chevy & Power and was a full 20.2sec back to claim the final podium.
“They turned over all the accounts this year,” Newgarden said of Chevy. “You know, this has been a long day. I was disappointed after qualifying [P2]; I just hate losing. I felt we had enough to get the job done; You motivated me. I knew we had a car here today to win this race, and in front of such a big crowd – an incredible job Hy-Vee did all weekend. So be able to win here again. It’s always very special.”
ECR Power’s Rinus VeeKay chased to the finish line but came in less than a tenth of a second in fourth. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon spent the day making incremental improvements and took more points as he moved up to fifth, which came at the expense of teammate Alex Ballou who struggled for control in the final stages of the race and returned to sixth.
Elsewhere, Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean was impressive in his first race in Iowa. Andretti was the first driver to get home in seventh. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Christian Lundgaard was also sharp on his Iowa debut, finishing 10th in the RLL. The last driver to outperform expectations was Callum Ellot of Juncos Hollinger Racing who ran fast, stayed out of trouble, and finished 12th in his first short oval.
Championship leader Marcus Ericsson was on his way to a big finish after starting in 12th and climbing into the top three, but a poor decision during the fight for third place with O’Ward had driver Chip Ganassi Racing soar high to pass a coil car and venture in while doing so. O’Ward swept the low streak, and as he was scrambling to stay off the wall, Ericsson slipped to ninth.
He would take one place and come home in eighth place. With the error, his championship lead of 35 points over Power turned into a 15-point lead over Newgarden, who improved from fourth to second in the standings.
We were back on Sunday afternoon at 3:30 PM ET for the final race of the weekend – 300 laps in more unlikely conditions. Be prepared for another championship performance from Penske, but with temperatures set to be in the mid-80s, there’s a chance that some of the advanced racers from the race will miss the prep window and some of those who struggled Iowa will score gold.
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