Josef Newgarden was racing a freshly installed engine for his win at Mid-Ohio following a late-afternoon swap on Saturday by his Team Penske crew.
The first indication that there was a problem at all was in the final practice session after qualifying, when Newgarden himself heard some concerning sounds from the Chevrolet engine behind him.
His team didn’t immediately see anything on telemetry to indicate a problem, but the two-time champion insisted they check it out.
Sure enough, a problem was diagnosed and it was decided that conducting a full engine change before the race was the best option.
“Fortunately, we caught what looked to be potentially a race ending problem,” said Newgarden after claiming his first win of the season. “Thank goodness we saw that in warmup.
“I felt it right before I was even finished with warmup. I said ‘We need to look at that, that’s going to be a problem.’
“There was some hesitation; nobody really saw it right away. We got in there pretty quickly and saw we needed to remedy something.
“Complete professionalism by Team Chevy. They’re Johnny on the Spot when they have to fix something or make it right.
“Each individual on our team is committed to the cause. They know what we’re fighting for, working for. They were out of here by 7:00 or 7:30 last night.
“They all exemplify professionalism over the weekend. This weekend was a great example of that.
“That would have just been demoralizing. I could not imagine. To get one win for them is very satisfying.”
The win was also the first of the year for Team Penske, the farthest into the season that milestone has come for the perennially competitive team in recent memory.
After a couple heart-breaking races in recent weeks that have seen Newgarden lose out on wins that looked to be sure bets, Sunday’s good fortune was more than welcome.
Newgarden now sits fourth in the points, and 69 points behind the current leader Alex Palou, with six races left in the 2021 season.