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IndyCar Road America

Newgarden “got burned” with the late strategy call

A victory was in sight for Josef Newgarden, but it all came undone on the final pit sequence with 12 laps to go and left Road America with a runner-up result.

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet, Pit Stop

Newgarden was leading a Team Penske 1-2-3 ahead of team-mates Scott McLaughlin and Will Power in the buildup to the last pit stop.

As the laps trickled down, Newgarden also began catching back marker Nolan Siegel, who was called to drive the No. 78 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet while regular Agustin Canapino took a leave of absence following a controversial last week. 

Stuck in a compromising situation and losing time behind Siegel, Newgarden was on the wrong end of final pit stop on lap 43. McLaughlin opted to pit the lap prior, and Power went for the over-cut – with a gap big enough to maximize pace – to vault both and end up with the lead and throttle off to the 42nd win of his career.

The 33-year-old Tennessee native was visibly bothered with the win slipping away but carried over the optimism for Team Penske’s sweep of the podium, which hadn’t happened since Sonoma in 2017.

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet, Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet celebrate on the podium

Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet, Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet celebrate on the podium

Photo by: Phillip Abbott / Motorsport Images

“It was a great day; great team day,” said Newgarden, the two-time Indianapolis 500 winner.

“I think we're all going to be really pleased with the 1-2-3, especially with the 2 car and the disaster yesterday. It was a real team effort to put a new car together. Everybody pitched in, the 12, the 2 and the 3.

“Really rewarding I think for the entire crew when you have to go through something like that, put it all together, we finish 1-2-3, it's as good as it can get.

“At the same time, we sort of gave that one away. I will say this, too. I felt like we gave it away, but all three of our cars were pretty stellar pace-wise. Whether it was the 3, the 12 or me, I think we all had similar pace.

“With that capability for any of us to win that race was there. You saw the 1-2-3 because of that.”

"I didn't make the right call"

And Newgarden knew the overcut would come into play in a critical way based on how the tires reacted in the warm-up session ahead of the race.

Even with knowing that, though, coming up on Siegel is where the management of that got complicated.

It was literally nearly three seconds of an advantage on an overcut,” Newgarden said.

“Two-and-a-half, three-second advantage. You can't get overcut on a day like today. You got to work that problem out. We pretty much had it worked out. We got to sort of a confusing place at the very end with the 78.

“It's all part of IndyCar racing. You got to sort of manage the situation. I felt like I didn't make the right call there. We could have kept going, and we should have.

“So, when you go for the undercut, that's what happens. You just get burned. We got burned at the end.”

Watch: Round 8 - Road America Grand Prix - Race Highlights

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