SPARTA, Ky. — Josef Newgarden clinched the Firestone Indy Lights championship by taking the green flag in the Kentucky Indy 100 at Kentucky Speedway Sunday afternoon.
But he had to share the glory with Stefan Wilson who gained second place in the championship by winning the season finale for the series at the 1.5-mile superspeedway.
Wilson beat Newgarden by 3.1136 seconds in the 67-lap race.
Wilson started from the pole and moved into second in the final standings over Esteban Guerrieri
“It was just so amazing,” said Wilson, who passed Newgarden for the lead for good on Lap 36. “It was just an awesome weekend, earning my first pole award, and winning the race. I have to thank my new partner Citizenre for making this race weekend possible for me.”
It also was Wilson’s first oval victory, adding to his win on the Toronto street circuit in June, and his ninth top-five finish.
Jorge Goncalvez finished third in the No. 4 Belardi Auto Racing Special (his fourth top five, including three on ovals) and Brandon Wagner was fourth in the No. 22 TMR-Davey Hamilton Racing entry. Bryan Clauson, who started 11th in the No. 77 Mazda Road to Indy/CURB Records/SSM car, finished fifth.
Guerrieri, along with the cars of Gustavo Yacaman, Anders Krohn, David Ostella and Jacob Wilson, was eliminated in a Lap-one incident.
Newgarden, also the Perkin Elmer Rookie of the Year award winner, earned his 10th podium in 13 races. He’s finished no lower than third in the past six races. That consistency was key, and provided Sam Schmidt Motorsports with its fourth series title in six years.
“It’s a big day for the Sam Schmidt Motorsports team,” he said. “It’s very bittersweet for us given everything that has happened over the last few weeks. It’s going to be difficult to celebrate this without (team manager) Chris (Griffis). It certainly gave us a lot of motivation to come here and finish it off right for him.
“I’m elated for all of the guys. The entire team has worked so hard and they really put a lot into this year. It’s a big day for all of them and certainly for the whole team.”