Josef Newgarden outlasts competition in dominant performance at Road America
Starting first and finishing first, Josef Newgarden completed a picture perfect weekend on top of the podium in the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America Saturday afternoon.
The defending series champion claimed the 10th victory of his career, with seven of those coming since his move to Team Penske for 2017. Having been the runner up at Road America last year, Newgarden has had his eyes on the prize for twelve months coming into the race weekend.
“I’ve wanted to win here since last year,” Newgarden told the NBCSN broadcast crew from victory lane. “Felt like we had the car to win, and it just didn’t happen. This car has been a rocket all weekend, but it was not easy.”
While Newgarden led all but two laps en route to victory, he had to fight for the win as he endured a stalking Ryan Hunter-Reay throughout the entirety of the race.
“I was looking at him every lap,” Newgarden said. “Then I started thinking I’m looking at him too much. I started looking forward, I knew if he was getting too close they’d let me know. Once I focused forward, it was a lot better towards the end.”
“It was pretty flawless, but it was difficult.”
Hunter-Reay had been close enough to make a move for much of the race, but when it all came down to the wire, he had his hands full with Scott Dixon.
“I was hoping to make it more interesting,” Hunter-Reay admitted, now tied for second in the championship with teammate Alexander Rossi. While Rossi maintained strong pace throughout the race, a steering issue caused him to fall back and settle for P16.
Finishing P3, Dixon’s sixth straight podium has stretched his lead to 45 points over Rossi and Hunter-Reay, while Newgarden sits 50 points back in fourth. While the lead appears comfortable for the four-time series champion, he leaves Road America wondering what could have been.
“I was a little disappointed with where we started,” he said. “I think had we had a better run in qualifying, the car definitely had the speed.”
The Verizon IndyCar Series next takes to the short oval of Iowa Speedway, taking on the Iowa Corn 300 on July 8th.