Josef Newgarden Closes Points Gap to Dixon With Harvest GP Race 1 Win

4 Mins read
Photo Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

Josef Newgarden took full advantage of his starting position on the front row to catapult himself to a win in an electric first race of the IndyCar Harvest GP doubleheader, his first career win at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Newgarden would drop to third at the very start of the race as Colton Herta would beat rookie polesitter Rinus VeeKay to turn one, and the two twenty year old future stars of IndyCar put on a thrilling duel. VeeKay would reclaim his lead in the complex of turns seven through ten.

The alternate red wall Firestone tyres were the faster tyre for the entire race, as the cool track surface, which didn’t eclipse thirty-two degrees Celsius, meant that the reds provided more grip and degraded less. VeeKay and Newgarden were on the reds, while Herta was on the black wall primary tyres.

On lap nine, Santino Ferrucci and Ryan Hunter-Reay came together in one of very few incidents in a mostly clean race. Hunter-Reay ran Ferrucci wide in turn one, and Ferrucci came back on track, colliding with Hunter-Reay and sending both into the grass on the outside of turn two. No action was taken by race control.

After making his way up to eleventh place from his starting spot of twentieth, Ferucci would finish fifteenth, while Hunter-Reay would finish nineteenth.

By lap twelve, race leader VeeKay had amassed a lead of 5.8 seconds, as some drivers came in very early in the window to get onto the much faster alternate tyre. Second place Herta would be one of them, and would exit in clean air. Newgarden then began his charge on VeeKay, taking three seconds out of his lead in four laps when the Dutch rookie would pit, electing to use his mandatory set of sticker primary tyres.

VeeKay would exit the pits fighting Herta on fresh alternate tyres, and Herta would make a beautiful move into turn seven to take what would be second place. This fighting helped Newgarden, who would continue to set great laps in fresh air before pitting on lap twenty one for sticker primary tyres. He would exit the pits ahead of Herta, but would lose the lead to the twenty-year-old American in turn one on lap twenty four.

Championship leader Scott Dixon, who started twelfth, would slowly creep up to sixth place by lap twenty five, still behind Newgarden.

Herta would pit from the lead for his second stop of the race on lap thirty seven, putting on __ tyres. He would find himself in a battle to pass Santino Ferrucci, who he had an incident with on the first lap at the last race at Mid-Ohio, on lap forty two. The clearly slower Ferrucci would put up a fight, but drive too deep into turn one and Herta would complete the move.

Herta would easily keep his lead after the second round of pit stops, with Newgarden, VeeKay, Felix Rosenqvist, and Will Power making up the top five by lap fifty.

Dixon would have a close call with Alexander Rossi on lap forty four, with a huge lock up by Dixon forcing Rossi to make evasive action. A close call for both parties.

By lap fifty eight, Newgarden would have his gap to Herta down to one second, but Herta would pit for primary tyres on lap sixty to go to the end of the race. Newarden would respond by pitting the very next lap, as did VeeKay, going onto primary and sticker alternates respectively. Newgarden would jump Herta for the lead, and not look back.

Power, who pit on lap 62 for primary tyres, would jump VeeKay for what would cycle out to be third place, before Rosenqvist on alternate tyres would jump both of them for the final step of the podium. With twelve laps to go, Rosenqvist would take his fresh alternate tyres and attack Herta for second. He wouldn’t be able to get the move done, and would be sandwiched between Herta and Rossi, who joined the battle, with no push to pass left.

Rossi would charge to pass both Rosenqvist and Herta, making quick work of the Swede in turn one with seven to go, and would go around the outside of his teammate Herta the very next lap in turn seven for second.

That same lap, Marco Andretti would become the only car to retire from the race after an electrical fire. Not what the Nazareth, Pennsylvania native would have hoped for after starting fifth.

During all this chaos in the podium battle, VeeKay would appear again to overtake Rosenqvist after he got loose in turn ten with six to go, and would dive down the inside of a struggling Herta for third going into turn twelve. Brilliant moves by the rookie.

With three laps to go the battle for seventh place become the focus, as championship leader Dixon was trying to hold off Graham Rahal, who had a quick 360 degree spin early in the race, and Jack Harvey. Dixon’s tyres were shot, and he ran off track in turn seven, conceding two positions and finishing ninth.

Newgarden would go on to claim his first win by a fourteen second margin to second place Rossi, with VeeKay getting his first career podium finish in third. Herta would manage to stop the bleeding and hold on to fourth place, with Rosenqvist rounding out the top five.

After dealing with issues on pit road and a massive save in the final corner to keep his car off the wall late, Power would come home sixth, followed by the winner of the battle for seventh Rahal, Harvey, and Dixon. Marcus Ericsson would round out the top ten, putting all three Chip Ganassi Racing cars in the top group.

James Hinchcliffe would be the highest finisher of the new drivers on the grid this weekend, finishing fourteenth. Helio Castroneves would finish twentieth and Sebastien Bourdais would finish right behind him in twenty first.

With Dixon’s late race excursion off-road, Newgarden has closed the points gap to forty points with two races left in the season. Colton Herta also moves up to third in the points passing Pato O’Ward after another strong performance.

Race two of the IndyCar Harvest GP doubleheader is tomorrow at 14:30 EST/19:30 GMT. Qualifying will begin at 10:20 EST/15:20 GMT.

Harvest IndyCar GP Race 1 Final Results

11Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske01:44:28.556
227Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport+14.294
321Rinus VeeKay (R)NEDEd Carpenter Racing+15.037
488Colton HertaUSAAndretti Herta Steinbrenner Autosport+17.395
510Felix RosenqvistSWEChip Ganassi Racing+18.458
612Will PowerAUSTeam Penske+26.137
715Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+27.376
860Jack HarveyENGMeyer Shank Racing+28.531
99Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing+30.796
108Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing+36.972
1159Max ChiltonENGCarlin+47.551
1220Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing+56.954
134Charlie KimballUSAA.J. Foyt Enterprises+1:10.896
1426James HinchcliffeUSAAndretti Autosport+1:11.990
1518Santino FerrucciUSADale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan– 1 lap
1622Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske– 1 lap
1755Alex Palou (R)ESPDale Coyne Racing w/ Team Goh– 1 lap
1830Takuma SatoJPNRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing– 1 lap
1928Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport– 1 lap
207Helio CastronevesBRAArrow McLaren SP– 1 lap
2114Sebastien BourdaisFRAA.J. Foyt Enterprises– 1 lap
225Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SP– 1 lap
2324Sage KaramUSADreyer & Reinbold Racing– 1 lap
2441Dalton Kellett (R)CANA.J. Foyt Enterprises– 2 laps
2598Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Herta Autosport w/ Marco Andretti & Curb AgajanianMechanical
(R) = Rookie
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Lifelong sports junkie, currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Hofstra University. Lead writer for Indycar at The Checkered Flag.
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