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IndyCar Long Beach

Newgarden elated by Long Beach win after “super difficult” fight

Josef Newgarden was elated by his triumph on the streets of Long Beach, after holding off strong challenges from both Romain Grosjean and Alex Palou in the second half of the race.

Team Penske-Chevrolet’s two-time champion started second on the grid alongside Andretti Autosport-Honda’s pole-winner Colton Herta, and while he jumped Herta in his first pitstop, they were both cleared by Chip Ganassi Racing’s Palou.

However, at the second stop, the #2 Penske crew got Newgarden out of pitlane ahead of Palou and he then kept the Ganassi driver behind him and took the lead, while Herta crashed. Palou then had to concede second place to Grosjean who unlike the other front-runners, had opted to save his fresh, softer alternate Firestones to the last stint.

Grosjean then took a couple of stabs at passing Newgarden, but after a couple of shaky moments following the restart, the Penske driver prevailed and claimed his 22nd career victory, equaling Tony Bettenhausen and Emerson Fittipaldi in the record books.

Asked if he thought the triumph was one of his best, Newgarden responded: "It's definitely up there on the list. Man, this was a fight today, this is not an easy race to win.

“I was working my butt off with Grosjean at the end there on the used reds, I was hoping that he'd fade a bit towards the end. Trying to hold him off on the restart was super difficult.

"We knew we had a good strategy and made good fuel with Team Chevy and I had everything I needed today with pitstops, as you saw when I had to get around Alex.

“So proud of Team Penske. I've been trying to win a race here for 11 years so I'm happy to get it done.”

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On his battles with Palou and Grosjean, Newgarden said: "The out-lap with Palou was more risky. We got together in Turn 5 going in deep, and that almost didn't work out when we were side-by-side into that corner, and then side-by-side again in Turn 6. That was the difficult battle.

"Grosjean, overall, just had a better shot at getting it done. Fortunately we just held on."

With his second straight win, and Penske’s third straight, Newgarden has claimed the lead of the championship from St. Petersburg-winning teammate Scott McLaughlin, who clipped the hairpin wall and spun down to 20th before eventually claiming 14th.

Power, on the other hand, claimed fourth, and was reasonably satisfied.

“This is the most consistent start to the season we’ve had for a long time. Pretty happy with fourth. I didn’t have anything for the guys in front, but happy with where were we started from [seventh].”

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