NEWTON, Iowa. — Of the last six oval races that have been contested by the NTT IndyCar Series, Josef Newgarden has won five of them. The only outlier in that statistic was the second race of the Iowa doubleheader last year when he retired with a mechanical issue.
This season, each of the three oval races run so far has been won by Newgarden taking the PPG 375 at Texas, the Indianapolis 500, and now cruising to victory in the HyVee Homefront 250 at Iowa Speedway on Saturday to open up this year’s Iowa doubleheader.
“It was just a nice car. The team did a great job as always,” Newgarden said. “They always give me a fantastic car here. You can’t win a race around this place without having the best car in the field, and I feel like we’ve always got that when we show up.”
Newgarden was not happy with the start to the day having qualified 3rd for this particular race after having been quickest in practice on Friday. He qualified 7th for Sunday’s HyVee OneStep 250.
His Penske teammate Will Power would roll off on the pole with fellow Penske driver Scott McLaughlin 2nd between them in a 1-2-3 Penske grid. Power led the race’s first 119 laps.
Power would lose the lead on Lap 120 during the race’s third round of green flag pit stops. The competition had gone without a caution to this point. Points leader Alex Palou led the subsequent lap during the pit cycle.
Newgarden would dive below his teammate on Lap 126 exiting Turn 2 to take the lead. that would prove to be the winning move as Newgarden ran away with a huge lead, even outlasting a restart for a caution involving Graham Rahal on Lap 152.
When all was said and done, Newgarden put all but four other cars at least a lap down. Only the top five finishing drives crossed the start/finish line on the lead lap.
Newgarden’s win and Alex Palou’s 8th place finish, tying a season low, has allowed Newgarden to widdle Palou’s points lead on the year back to 98 points, down from 117 to start the day.
“I’m very aware of it,” Newgarden said of the points situation for him and his team. “It’s a tough deficit that we’re in. I’m aware of it. I’m not putting any pressure on this weekend or to the end of the year. It kind of is what it is, right? I can’t control what happens with Alex. I think the odds are higher that he has some bad luck at some point, but that doesn’t mean it’s ever going to come.”
Newgarden will have some work to do on Sunday as he starts 7th in trying to go back-to-back at Iowa Speedway.
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