Qualifying annoyance motivated Newgarden to win Iowa Race 1

Josef Newgarden says being beaten to pole by teammate Will Power helped motivate him to dominate the opening race of the Hy-Vee IndyCar Race Weekend.

Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet

Newgarden lined up on the outside of the front row and fell into line behind Power but on a Lap 23 restart he took advantage of the #12 car getting sideways under throttle to dive under Power at Turn 1 and claim the lead.

Newgarden thereafter held off challenges from Power, championship leader Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing and Pato O’Ward to lead 208 of the 250 laps and claim his fourth victory at the 0.894-mile D-shaped oval in Newton, IA.

"I'm glad I wore this cool suit,” the 2017 and 2019 champion told NBC after clinching victory over O’Ward by 6.1sec. “It was pretty nice and easy in there to be honest. I felt cool today and this car was good.

“I was surprised by how hard these guys were pushing on restarts,” he said, referring to the high tire degradation that saw lap speeds drop to 145-150mph at the end of the final stint. This was a long-game day.

“O'Ward definitely looked the toughest competitor to beat. I was disappointed after qualifying, I just hate losing and I felt we had enough to get the job done and it motivated me to win this race.

“It's one of my favorite tracks so to win here again is always very special.”

With Ericsson having a wild moment in the gray soon after rubbing his front-right wheel against the rear-left of Newgarden, he dropped to ninth and eventually finished eighth. That meant Newgarden, who has moved into second in the championship, cut the Ganassi driver’s points lead to 15 points.

Newgarden commented: “I feel good. We've been in the game, it's just not where we want to be in the game. If we were ahead by a good bit, it would be a much better position to be in.

“We're in the fight, we're relatively there. We've just gotta figure out how to have more consistency – because it's either winning or going sideways on our weekends. I know we can do better than this, consistently, and I have faith in Team Penske.”

For his part, although Power will have been disappointed to drop to third in the title race, he ate into his deficit to Ericsson, reducing it from 35 points to 22.

“We were definitely strong before that first yellow but that restart, I had a couple of big yaw moments and the rear just never recovered. I ended up maxed-out on my tools.

“It was either lose positions or really push in the dirty air of Josef. The tires were so gone. I was really stoked to hang on to third, it’s kinda fun sliding these things a lot.

“But it was definitely a good effort. Another top three, so you don't look back on those as bad days."

Previous article Iowa IndyCar: Newgarden dominates Race 1, beats O’Ward, Power
Next article VeeKay snatches strong fourth on otherwise bad day for ECR