Injured Newgarden dominates Iowa with record run

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Injured Newgarden dominates Iowa with record run
David Malsher
By: David Malsher
Jul 11, 2016, 12:31 AM

Josef Newgarden overcame his injuries to put on a clinic at Iowa Speedway, leading 282 of the 300 laps – the most ever led in an Indy car race – and moved up to second in the championship hunt.

Podium: race winner Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, second place Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, third place Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet
Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Helio Castroneves, Team Penske Chevrolet
Tony Kanaan, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet
Polesitter Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske Chevrolet
Mikhail Aleshin, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda

The Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet driver took the lead at the start of the Iowa Corn 300, going around the outside of championship leader and polesitter Simon Pagenaud. Swiftly leaving the Team Penske driver behind, such was Newgarden's pace that long before one-third distance, he had lapped third-placed Helio Castroneves.

It’s interesting to speculate how many times he might have lapped all his rivals had the race run green throughout. But the three yellow flags – Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Honda blowing on lap 109, Juan Pablo Montoya’s Chevy doing likewise on lap 179 and Max Chilton spinning out on lap 245 actually served to highlight the ECR driver’s pace advantage. On the first two restarts, Newgarden had to hold off Pagenaud, on the third it was Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing in his mirrors, and all three occasions the #21 disappeared into a race of his own.

It was the third win of Newgarden’s IndyCar career and came just two races after fracturing a hand and breaking a clavicle in a 200mph shunt at Texas Motor Speedway. It also came on the back of runner-up finishes at Iowa in his two previous races here.

He commented: “Man, it’s hard to not get emotional after these things! What a great car!  Fuzzy's Vodka...they enable us to do what we are doing here. I have a great team with Ed Carpenter Racing. Great team owner in Ed Carpenter. It is great, man. Best car I've ever had. Happy for my team. For my owner – he is a good dude. He takes good care of me. This is so cool. Thanks to everyone in Iowa. I love this place. Love coming to Iowa. Love the fans here. Love running Indy cars around this place.  I hope we come back here for many, many years.

He went on: “The car was just incredible. I could put it anywhere. It really helped. My right hand was killing me, but having an amazing car helps a lot. I hate having a cop-out. I don't want people to think that I'm having a harder time because of the injuries.

“But it was tough.  This place is already difficult, it is one of the most difficult places we go to. But I wasn't going to lose control of this thing. When you are leading the race and you have your team watching your back, man, you have to bring it home. I wanted to do it for all of these guys and girls. The injuries – it doesn't mean anything. It is all about the car and how good of a team we are. I think that is what got it done for us today."

Will Power finished second, easily his best ever result at Iowa, and while there were times when he looked to be struggling in the lower reaches of the top 10, slick pit work and pace on long runs kept him in the hunt throughout. The 2014 champion, who won the previous two races, saved his best for last; a charging final stint saw him dive down the inside of Simon Pagenaud to claim third and then pass Dixon around the outside – with inches to spare – three laps from the checkered flag.

Dixon admitted that he struggled throughout the weekend and that in the end the Ganassi team had thrown last year’s setup on his car. In that context, he was satisfied with his third place.

Both drivers were pleased to chip away at Simon Pagenaud’s championship lead, even though they were both vaulted by Newgarden in the title race.

Fastest Honda driver was Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Mikhail Aleshin who finished fifth. The Russian kept pace with Power in the penultimate stint having passed Ganassi’s Tony Kanaan on lap 235.

Kanaan looked strong at the start of stints, but appeared to be struggling with his gearbox on lap 193, ducking out of the way so that Power didn’t run into him. Thereafter he charged but got hosed on strategy having ducked into the pits on lap 242, just before teammate Chilton spun. Where the pace car picked up the field effectively shuffled Kanaan back in the pack and he finished a lap down on the winner.

Another driver to get cruelly robbed of a shot at the podium and in very similar manner to his compatriot, was Helio Castroneves. He had just pitted when Montoya’s engine blew, and he didn’t make it out in time to avoid being lapped. He would finish two laps down in 13th.

Alexander Rossi put in a strong drive for Andretti Autosport to finish sixth on an otherwise desultory day for Michael’s team, surviving a very hairy moment passing Kanaan – at that time, merely unlapping himself from the CGR driver.

The result leaves Pagenaud still leading the championship on 409 points, followed by Newgarden on 336, Power on 334, Dixon 321, Castroneves on 318 and Kanaan on 306.

IndyCar – Iowa Corn 300

Pos DriverTeam (engine)deficit
1 21  Josef Newgarden  Carpenter (C)  
2 12  Will Power   Penske (C) 4.2828
3 9  Scott Dixon   Ganassi (C) 5.5085
4 22  Simon Pagenaud   Penske (C) 6.1827
5 7  Mikhail Aleshin   Schmidt (H) 7.0386
6 98  Alexander Rossi   Andretti-Herta (H) 1 lap
7 10  Tony Kanaan   Ganassi (C) 1 lap
8 11  Sébastien Bourdais   KVSH (C) 1 lap
9 5  James Hinchcliffe   Schmidt (H) 1 lap
10 83  Charlie Kimball   Ganassi (C) 1 lap
11 14  Takuma Sato   Foyt (H) 2 laps
12 26  Carlos Muñoz   Andretti (H) 2 laps
13 3  Helio Castroneves   Penske (C) 2 laps
14 27  Marco Andretti   Andretti (H) 2 laps
15 41  Jack Hawksworth   Foyt (H) 2 laps
16 15  Graham Rahal   Rahal (H) 3 laps
17 19  Gabby Chaves   Coyne (H) 7 laps
18 20  Ed Carpenter   Carpenter (C) 16 laps
19 8  Max Chilton   Ganassi (C) 26 laps
20 2  Juan Pablo Montoya   Penske (C) 121 laps
21 18  Conor Daly   Coyne (H) 159 laps
22 28  Ryan Hunter-Reay   Andretti (H) 195 laps

(C) = Chevrolet, (H) = Honda

 

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