Josef Newgarden extended his advantage in the Verizon IndyCar Series championship standings with a third victory in four races, and a fourth victory of the year, at Gateway Motorsports Park on Saturday night.
The American was delighted with the size and energy of the crowd as Gateway hosted its first IndyCar race for fourteen years, and it was even better for him to secure the victory, even if he had to bang wheels with team-mate Simon Pagenaud to do so.
“It was a great night,” said Newgarden. “First off, we had an awesome crowd. It was amazing actually what was out here tonight. I felt like the energy for this event, it really spurred everyone on.
“You should have seen all the drivers. I felt like everyone was a little extra nervous tonight because of the energy in this place. I remember watching this race when I was younger. They stopped coming here, I think 2003 was the last race. It’s fun to have it back in 2017 and see it so well supported for the first year. It was a great night to go racing.”
Newgarden led from the start but found himself behind Pagenaud late on after the Frenchman jumped him in the pits, but the American was not to be denied the win as he made a robust, wheel-banging pass on his rival that forced Pagenaud to lose momentum around the outside of turn one.
“I felt like the PPG Chevrolet was going to be good tonight,” said Newgarden. “We had four good cars at Team Penske. Happy to get the win on the No. 2 car side because I felt like we had the car to beat.
“I didn’t want us to be denied tonight for sure. Simon (Pagenaud) gave me a lane to work with. I had a good tow on him, put my car inside in the opening, got about halfway alongside of him. One thing I didn’t want to do was touch him too hard.
“I think if I would have stayed too far left, I would have jumped the curb and that would have taken both of us out. I tried to get Simon to move over a little when we were coming to the opening of the corner. We both had to slow up.
“Fortunately worked out well for us. Pagenaud, didn’t get up into the wall or anything like that, so I would say it worked out okay for him, too.”