Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden has described his battle with Pato O’Ward in the closing laps of the second Detroit Grand Prix as hard racing but ‘on the limit’.
With three laps remaining O’Ward was able to pass Newgarden for the lead of the race exiting Turn 6, however, the pair made contact at almost 175mph on the high-speed stretch before Turn 7.
The two-time series champion put up a robust defence but felt there was little he could do against the pace of the young Mexican due to the tyre disparity between the two drivers.
When asked after the race for his thoughts on the move, Newgarden said: “Definitely I think on the limit, but I think it was good hard racing.
“There’s a kink on the back straight so it’s not perfectly straight, so to be fighting side by side, I think you probably get a little bit of contact like that. It’s not completely abnormal down in that section of the track.
“But he was coming like a freight train. My tires were cooked, and he was having great drives off the corner, as you saw. I think that’s what kind of did us in. It almost did us in with Alex [Palou], too.
“Thankfully we were able to hold on to second, but yeah, just hard racing.”
Despite missing out on what could have been Penske’s first win of the 2021 campaign, Newgarden doesn’t regret the choice of race strategy and believes a win isn’t far away.
“I wouldn’t change a thing”, he added.
“You can’t predict these races. You can look like a hero or a zero pretty easily in this sport, so yeah, I would ask anyone to change anything. I think they’re doing all the right stuff, it’s just not worked out.
“If I had the answer, I’d be doing it but I’m sure it’ll happen at some point. It just hasn’t aligned. Sometimes you get that. You just don’t get everything to line up perfectly.
“I think we’ve got a lot of the ingredients right. I don’t think we really need to change much, just keep doing our thing.”