LEXINGTON, Ohio – Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden scored a decisive victory in Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and he helped add another venue to his list of winning tracks.
In 2015, Newgarden was racing for Ed Carpenter Racing and scored the first two wins of his career at Barber Motorsports Park and later that year at Toronto’s Exhibition Place. Last year, he scored a record-setting victory at Iowa Speedway by leading an IndyCar record 282 laps.
This year, his first with Team Penske, Newgarden scored repeat victories at those venues by winning the April 23 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber and the July 16 Honda Indy Toronto at Exhibition Place. After those wins, Newgarden said he wanted to win at a track he had never won at before.
He achieved that when he boldly passed teammate Will Power in the esses on lap 13. From there he only gave up the lead during his three pit stops. He defeated Power by 5.155 seconds for his sixth career win.
“We’ve been close – I think I’ve been close here before, certainly with CFH Racing and ECR,” Newgarden said. “I’m getting my years mixed up. There’s a lot of different names in there. But we’ve been close before here. I feel like we’ve always found speed. It certainly wasn’t missing with Team Penske. They have great cars. I think all four of us went fast this weekend.
“But we’ve been good at other places this year. I really felt like we could have won Road America. That’s been a good track for us. I feel like Phoenix should have been a better place for us. I don’t feel like we were lacking in too many places we haven’t won, but it’s just nice to get something in a track I haven’t had a previous history of winning the race. That was nice. I liked it for the 2 car guys. That was fun for me and fun for them. It was fun.”
It also moved him into the Verizon IndyCar Series points lead.
The Team Penske driver has a seven-point lead over teammate Helio Castroneves after the three-time Indianapolis 500 winning driver finished seventh. Scott Dixon started sixth and finished ninth, falling from the championship lead to eight points behind Newgarden. Two more Team Penske drivers are fourth and sixth including Simon Pagenaud (17 points out of the lead) and 2014 champion Will Power (52 points back).
“I think it’s great,” Newgarden said of taking the points lead. “We’ve got to keep building the gap hopefully. And maintaining it is certainly the number one key, but if we can keep building the gap and increase it, that’s going to only help for Sonoma. I think that will be our goal not to have any bad races, try to build the gap, and it’s going to come down to Sonoma regardless of what happens. It’s always going to be the case with double points.
“We’ve just got to be as strong and as steady as we can and make sure that we can decide our own destiny going into Sonoma. It’s tough when you’re like 50 points behind and you have to have someone else finishing a certain position. I would like to be in a position where the winner of Sonoma wins the championship. You know, that’s a good position to be in.
“If we can do that, I’ll be pretty happy.”
The key moment for Newgarden came when he made a terrific crossover move in the turn four esses on lap 13. Once Newgarden’s Chevrolet was in the lead, he was able to drive to large leads and only gave up the position during his three pit stops.