IndyCar

Pit Stop Perfection Leads Newgarden to Road America Victory

4 Mins read
(Photo Credit: James Black / Penske Entertainment / Courtesy of IndyCar)

Josef Newgarden survived two late restarts and used a brilliant first pit stop to catapult himself past Alexander Rossi and into victory lane at the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America.

Newgarden knew he was better than Rossi on the alternate tyre, and kept close through a caution-filled first stint. The duo both made their first pit stops on Lap 15, where Newgarden got the edge as Rossi was held up slightly by Scott McLaughlin entering his box right in front of him. This gave Newgarden a gap of about five seconds to Rossi that he kept for the rest of the race, until the caution flew with eight laps to go as Pato O’Ward‘s engine gave way.

Another caution for Helio Castroneves right as the race went back green meant another chance for Rossi to take the win, but Newgarden had yet another fantastic start and bolted away to the victory as Rossi came under fire from Marcus Ericsson, who took second place while the polesitter was relegated to third.

This marks Newgarden’s third win of the season, and the American has now won on all three circuit types that IndyCar runs on; ovals (Texas), street circuits (Long Beach), and now a road course, an incredible feat achieved in less than half of the season.

“I think that’s what makes IndyCar so tough,” Newgarden said post-race. “It’s impossible to predict what is going to happen. I thought we had it all locked up in Detroit, like it was going to be easy from the front row, and it was anything but easy and went completely different than we predicted, and that’s exactly what makes this series so difficult and it makes it fun to be in.”

“You’ve got to be on your toes at all times, you can go in with a plan but you’ll probably have to change your plan 90 percent of the time once the race starts to unfold. To be able to hit all these different disciplines with this team is just, for me it’s the best series in the world, I just love driving IndyCar.”

Rossi led the field to green after capturing his first pole in three years, but the race went under caution before a full green flag lap was run as Jimmie Johnson stalled in the turn three grass. Crews tried to get his car re-fired before the field came back around the 6.515 km course but were unable and threw the yellow flag.

Two more cautions followed with significant championship implications. Just after the race re-started on lap four, caution waved again for two isolated incidents. Ericsson dove to the inside of his teammate Alex Palou, when the Swede’s right front wheel made contact with the Spaniard’s left rear sending him into the gravel with a broken suspension arm. It was rather light contact but ended Palou’s day, and he was understandably frustrated with his teammate.

“He was trying to win the race on the third lap,” Palou said outside of the care center. “…I was surprised my teammate hit me, not that my car broke. We can play this game as well.”

Rinus Veekay went off-track at the next corner as well after contact with Christian Lundgaard.

The next caution came on lap eight, as rookie Devlin DeFrancesco dumped championship leader Will Power on lap eight. The Canadian rookie tried to pull a double-fake on Power in the run to turn five, but hooked his rear and sent him nose-first into the outside wall. DeFrancesco was rightfully punished with a stop-go penalty. Power finished nineteenth.

Andretti Autosport had a fantastic showing aside from DeFrancesco, with their other three cars all finishing in the top five. While Rossi finished third, Romain Grosjean managed to take fourth from teammate Colton Herta, who had a brilliant race following a grid penalty for a new engine stemming from the engine the team tried to fix following his Indy 500 practice crash. He started eleventh after the penalty was assessed, and recovered to finish in his original starting position.

Felix Rosenqvist was on an alternate strategy to the rest of the leaders after he pit under caution on lap nine, but a masterful fuel saving effort put him right in contention for a fantastic top ten finish, coming home in sixth. This is his fifth straight top ten dating back to the GMR Grand Prix at the beginning of May.

It was almost seventh place for the Swede however, beating out McLaughlin in a drag race up the hill to the start/finish line.

Graham Rahal was another beneficiary of the same strategy Rosenqvist was on, setting himself up for a much-needed eighth place finish. The entire Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team has struggled to find pace this season, but all three cars came home in the top fifteen this weekend with Lundgaard finishing tenth and Jack Harvey matching his season-best finish in thirteenth.

Scott Dixon lamented his car’s lack of grip, but still came home with a ninth place finish.

With his podium finish, Ericsson re-takes the championship lead from Power as the series heads into a three-week break before the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on Sunday, 03 July.

Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America – Official Results

RANKCAR NO.DRIVERNAT.TEAMTOTAL TIME
12Josef NewgardenUSATeam Penske1:53:02.8097
28Marcus EricssonSWEChip Ganassi Racing+ 3.371 sec.
327Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Autosport+ 5.6348 sec.
428Romain GrosjeanFRAAndretti Autosport+ 5.8490 sec.
526Colton HertaUSAAndretti Autosport+ 8.7657 sec.
67Felix RosenqvistSWEArrow McLaren SP+ 9.2835 sec.
73Scott McLaughlinNZLTeam Penske+ 9.3064 sec.
815Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+ 9.3728 sec.
99Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi Racing+ 9.7102 sec.
1030Christian Lundgaard (R)DENRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+ 10.043 sec.
1177Callum Ilott (R)GBRJuncos Hollinger Racing+ 10.6025 sec.
1260Simon PagenaudFRAMeyer Shank Racing+ 11.744 sec.
1345Jack HarveyGBRRahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+13.4662 sec.
1420Conor DalyUSAEd Carpenter Racing+ 14.7608 sec.
1551Takuma SatoJPNDale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing+ 15.0849 sec.
1618David Malukas (R)USADale Coyne Racing w/ HMD Motorsports+ 16.1401 sec.
1721Rinus VeeKayNEDEd Carpenter Racing+ 16.6505 sec.
1829Devlin DeFrancesco (R)CANAndretti Steinbrenner Autosport+ 16.8028 sec.
1912Will PowerAUSTeam Penske+ 17.2091 sec.
2014Kyle Kirkwood (R)USAA.J. Foyt Enterprises+ 18.6841 sec.
2116Simona De SilvestroSUIParetta Autosport+ 20.2548 sec.
2206Helio CastronevesBRAMeyer Shank Racing+ 21.4368 sec.
234Dalton KellettCANA.J. Foyt Enterprises+ 23.3098 sec.
2448Jimmie JohnsonUSAChip Ganassi Racing+ 1 Lap
2511Tatiana Calderon (R)COLA.J. Foyt Enterprises+ 1 Lap
265Pato O’WardMEXArrow McLaren SPMechanical
2710Alex PalouESPChip Ganassi RacingCrash
(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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