DETROIT – Josef Newgarden pitted at the perfect time during Saturday’s opening race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle Park.

The race, which was postponed by for nearly 90 minutes, forced officials to change the race distance from 70 laps to 75 minutes. The field started on treaded rain tires, but with the track surface drying, Newgarden pitted for racing slicks on lap 18.

Just as he came to a stop, the caution flag waved after Ed Jones stuffed his Chevrolet into the tire barrier in turn two. With his pit stop complete, Newgarden cycled into the lead when all of the other leaders pitted under the caution flag.

Newgarden went on to lead the remainder of the 75-minute race to defeat polesitter Alexander Rossi by .8237 of a second.

The pit stop call was made at the right time.

Josef Newgarden celebrates after his victory on Saturday at Belle Isle Park. (Al Steinberg Photo)
Josef Newgarden celebrates after his victory on Saturday at Belle Isle Park. (Al Steinberg Photo)

“It was the perfect call to get us what we needed,” Newgarden said. “To win in Chevy’s backyard, this is a great win. I’m so pumped to be here with Team Penske. We really wanted this one.”

The victory gave team owner Roger Penske his second win at Detroit on Saturday. Earlier in the day, the Acura Team Penske combination of Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron won the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix.

“We’re on a roll,” Penske said after winning for the eighth time at Detroit.

Rossi lamented the yellow flag for costing him the race.

“We had a really good car in the wet, we were controlling the race,” Rossi said. “There was only one dry line. Josef did a good job. It’s hard. I’m frustrated. I thought I had the best car again today.”

For the second-straight race, Takuma Sato finished third in his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda. The second and third-place finishers were the same as they were in last Sunday’s 103rd Indianapolis 500.

A Team Penske driver also won for the second-straight race, but this time it was Newgarden picking the perfect time to make his pit stop.

“He did a great job,” Team Penske President Tim Cindric said of Newgarden’s performance. “We needed to pit either that lap or the next lap. We tried to pit as early as we could. We dove in and it happened to work out that way.

“It was going to be close on fuel. We could have made it before the last year yellow. We decided to keep our track position. It was going to be close.”

It was Newgarden’s second win of the year and the 12th win of his IndyCar Series career. It’s the 207th Indy car win for Team Penske and the team’s third in a row this year after Simon Pagenaud swept the month of May at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 22 drivers return Sunday morning for another round of qualifications, with two 11-car groups running 12-minute sessions to determine the starting lineup. Race No. 2 is set to begin at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

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