Josef Newgarden has taken victory at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, holding onto the lead in a final three-lap shootout.
The two-time series champion started the race in second place behind Alexander Rossi, but was able to gain the lead during the first set of pit stops, and never looked back.
It was not easy, however, as a couple of late caution periods led to a final sprint to the checkered flag. Thoughts of last year’s disappointment, which saw Newgarden lose out on certain victory on account of a failing gearbox, crossed his mind, but the scenario did not repeat.
He claimed his third victory out of eight races run this season, and moved back up to the third place in points.
Alexander Rossi, instead of putting the pressure on Newgarden in the final shootout, found himself having to defend against Marcus Ericsson instead. The Swede successfully took the second position in the first turn, and Rossi had to settle for the final step on the podium.
The race was relatively caution-free in the middle portion of the 55-lap event, but was bookended by a litany of cautions at the start and at the end.
Will Power had a less than optimal start to the race, as he was tagged by Devlin DeFrancesco in the braking zone for turn 5. He spun into the wall and had to get assistance from the safety crew to get going again.
The points leader coming into the event finished all the way down in 19th position after a long day battling in the middle of the pack.
Jimmie Johnson and Alex Palou each had their own incidents as well near the start of the race, each one bringing out a caution and ensuring they would finish near the bottom of the order.
Pato O’Ward was knocking on the door of a top 10 finish when his Chevy engine gave out with only eight laps remaining, bringing a late yellow flag that led to the dramatic finish.
That run to the finish was shortened to just three laps because Helio Castroneves spun and became stuck in the grass as the field was coming to green after the previous incident.
For his win, Newgarden completed the PeopleReady Force for Good Challenge, which awards the first driver to win at all three types of tracks with a $1 million bonus that will be split between him and the two charities Wags and Walks of Nashville, and SeriousFun Children’s Network.
After five consecutive weekends at the track, drivers and teams will get a two-week respite before heading to another countryside course at Mid-Ohio on July 3.