FORT WORTH, Texas – Team Penske prides itself on perfection, strategy and execution.
The winningest team in NTT IndyCar Series history used all three as Josef Newgarden won Saturday night’s DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Team Penske President Tim Cindric called Newgarden into the pits during a caution period on lap 137 after Zach Veach turned the backstretch into a Slalom Course with his spin. Newgarden was ninth at the time and Cindric called his driver into the pit for fresh tires and full fuel.
Although he lost a few spots of track position, he ran faster laps than any other driver on the track by 8-10 mph.
That allowed Newgarden to be in position to leap-frog the field when he made his final pit stop on lap 198. The team executed with a very quick pit stop so that by the time the field cycled through its stops, Newgarden was the leader on lap 203.
He remained in front for the remainder of the 248-lap race to score his first win at Texas Motor Speedway, his first win on a superspeedway and the 13th victory of his career.
It also allowed Newgarden to increase his lead in the NTT IndyCar Series standings to 25 points over second-place finisher Alexander Rossi, who tried several times late in the race to make the pass for the lead, only to not have enough room in turn one.
“It’s these guys (on the crew), man, they keep putting me out front (and) I’m just trying to get it done at the end,” Newgarden said in victory lane. “I knew we had a rocket ship and it was all about getting in the front. We were better in the front than we were in the back. We knew if we could get some position, we would be OK. Team Chevy doing a great job for us. A good day to capitalize on some points. These guys put me in position so it’s all up to them.”
Newgarden credited Rossi for driving a competitive and fair race. Rossi started 11th and finished second by .8164-of-a-second.
“He was fast,” Newgarden said of Rossi. “Honestly, he ran a great race. Both him and Scott Dixon ran me really fair at the end. It was hard to get away on the restart; that was my biggest concern was getting a jump getting going again.
“(Rossi) was good, man, he was just hard to hold off. He was so good in dirty air. I saw him earlier in the race and how good he was behind people. I knew it was going to be tough, really tough, but you saw the speed I had on the front stretch to hold him off, so thanks to Team Chevy. It was a good day in Texas, man. I’m glad we finally figured this place out. It’s been a while.
“We’ve been close here before, not necessarily at the end of the race. I know we’ve had good cars here before and have not been able to make it happen and one thing happens or another. To just finally figure it out has been great.”
The first 135 laps of the race were run without incident, except for pole sitter Takuma Sato, who took out one of his pit crew members, Chris Welch, when he slid into his pits. Welch was taken to the infield care center where he was checked and released.
The incident ruined Sato’s chances at contending for a victory. In addition to falling two laps down because of the extra time in the pits, he was issued a stop and go penalty by IndyCar Race Control. Sato finished 15th, three laps down.
James Hinchcliffe was having a fantastic race, contending for a top-five finished when he crashed in turn two while running fifth on lap 219.
The biggest crash of the race came when leading race contenders Dixon and rookie Colton Herta crashed after making contact in turn three on Lap 229. Herta went low into the turn and Dixon forced him below the yellow line. Herta’s car broke loose from the track and spun into Dixon, taking both out of the race.
Newgarden was able to fend off Rossi’s charge at the end. Newgarden was the only Chevrolet driver in the top five. The rest were Hondas led by second-place Rossi, who was followed by Graham Rahal, rookie Santino Ferrucci and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
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