Newgarden prevails through Penske battle in opening Iowa race

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Credit: James Black/Penske Entertainment

Although Team Penske teammate Will Power swept both pole positions at Iowa Speedway early Saturday morning and led the first 121 laps of today’s race, it was all Josef Newgarden until the checkered flag. Coming into this weekend as the clear-cut favorite after nearly sweeping last year’s Iowa doubleheader, qualifying in third place behind both of his Penske teammates could be seen as a disappointment for the Tennessee native.

Power gassed the field for about the first 100 laps before the #3 of Scott McLaughlin started to fight with his teammate. Power retained his well-earned lead until Newgarden took over the lead as aforementioned on Lap 121. Soon after that, Newgarden and the other leading cars of Power, McLaughlin, and Pato O’Ward dove into the pits, setting the tone for the rest of the 250-lap contest.

The Hendersonville, Tennessee native pulled away from the rest of the field until the last 10 laps, where McLaughlin roared to within 1.5 seconds of his teammate before lapped cars stood in his way, preventing the Kiwi driver from having a shot at making the pass. The “Bus Bros” ended up finishing 1-2, as Newgarden bested McLaughlin by just over three seconds when the checkered flag flew on the Hy-Vee Homefront 250.

However, the victory didn’t come without frustration for JoNew. In his post-race interview, the now five-time Iowa winner complained about the traffic around the 7/8-mile oval, calling it the “…worst it has ever been.” Newgarden has a point, as this weekend’s 28-car field is the largest Iowa Speedway has seen in its 16-year reign on the IndyCar schedule.

The only caution of the race occurred on Lap 152 when Graham Rahal careened into the barrier coming out of Turn 4, ending his day 101 laps early as he was already three laps down. A minor incident occurred later on in the race when Benjamin Pedersen was released into the path of Devlin Defrancesco in pit lane, resulting in minor contact between the two and momentarily preventing Pedersen’s teammate Santino Ferrucci from exiting his pit box.

With an eighth-place finish, Alex Palou retains an advantage of over 100 points in the championship standings. Newgarden slides up to second-place in the standings after his win, with Scott Dixon slipping back to third, followed by O’Ward and Marcus Ericsson in fourth and fifth place respectively.

1Josef Newgarden2Team Penske
2Scott McLaughlin3Team Penske+3.3755
3Pato O’Ward5Arrow McLaren+9.6072
4Marcus Ericsson8Chip Ganassi Racing+14.6385
5Will Power12Team Penske+22.4025
6Scott Dixon9Chip Ganassi Racing+1 lap
7Kyle Kirkwood27Andretti Autosport+1 lap
8Alex Palou10Chip Ganassi Racing+1 lap
9Takuma Sato11Chip Ganassi Racing+1 lap
10Alexander Rossi7Arrow McLaren+1 lap
11Romain Grosjean28Andretti Autosport+1 lap
12David Malukas18Dale Coyne Racing+2 laps
13Felix Rosenqvist6Arrow McLaren+2 laps
14Helio Castroneves06Meyer Shank Racing+2 laps
15Callum Ilott77Juncos Hollinger Racing+3 laps
16Agustin Canapino78Juncos Hollinger Racing+3 laps
17Rinus Veekay21Ed Carpenter Racing+3 laps
18Jack Harvey30Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+3 laps
19Colton Herta26Andretti Autosport+4 laps
20Christian Lundgaard45Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+4 laps
21Conor Daly60Meyer Shank Racing+5 laps
22Devlin DeFrancesco29Andretti Autosport+5 laps
23Ryan Hunter-Reay20Ed Carpenter Racing+6 laps
24Ed Carpenter33Ed Carpenter Racing+7 laps
25Sting Ray Robb51Dale Coyne Racing+ 8 laps
26Santino Ferrucci14A.J. Foyt Racing+9 laps
27Benjamin Pedersen55A.J. Foyt Racing+ 15 laps
28Graham Rahal15Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+ 101 laps (Crash)
The IndyCar Series runs once more at Iowa tomorrow afternoon for the Hy-Vee One Step 250, at 2:00 p.m. EST/6:00 p.m. GMT on NBC/Sky Sports F1.
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Born and raised in the suburbs of Indianapolis, Gabe joined the TCF team in 2023 to cover the IndyCar Series. He currently studies Broadcast and Digital Journalism at Syracuse University. You can follow him on Twitter @gabe_perrin.
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