Newgarden: “Hard not to be disappointed” to dominate and lose

Josef Newgarden says he feels “pretty sad” to have led 67 of 70 laps in the second race of the Detroit Grand Prix and lose out to the charging Patricio O’Ward.

Newgarden: “Hard not to be disappointed” to dominate and lose

The Team Penske-Chevrolet driver set a scintillating pole position this morning and starting on primary tires, he had to charge forward while he could, in order to shorten the stint on which he’d run the fragile alternate compound tires.

A late restart while he was on his final, red-tired stint saw the two-time champion him pull away from his nearest pursuer Colton Herta by just 1.1sec before the yellow flew again. Although Newgarden again defended well from Herta, he had no answer for the pace of the charging O’Ward, as his own reds started “falling off the cliff” in terms of grip.

Newgarden, who at least was able to hold off Alex Palou and Herta to the checkered flag, described himself as “sad, just pretty sad.”

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He continued: “It’s hard not to be disappointed. I think we had the car to beat. Just cautions when we didn’t need ‘em, wrong tires when we didn’t need ‘em.

“It was a fun strategy, we were doing well. Just the caution killed us, my rear tires were shot, we didn’t need that. We tried, we went for what we went for, it just didn’t fall our way at the end, so it’s pretty sad.

“Very happy for a Team Chevy 1-2, it’s a big thing here in Detroit and for Penske. Just disappointed. We felt like we had the car to do it.

“[O’Ward] was coming like a freight train – what are ya going to do? I just couldn’t do anything. And Palou… To be honest, Alex was right behind me and about to pass me too. To be honest I was just trying to hold him.

“I had so much wheelspin, my tires were shot to death for the last 10 laps. Just trying to be aggressive in the resets on the restart, which kills you even more. None of it played into our favor. But especially on that first [pitstop], we had to stop [when Dalton Kellett’s car ground to a halt at pit-exit] because we weren’t sure if they were going to full-course caution. If we don’t pit [and a caution came out] we get completely hosed.

“We had to put an extra seven or 10 laps on those [red] tires, but it just didn’t work our way.”

Later, Newgarden was asked if he felt the team’s strategies were too risky, and he responded: “Nope, nope, I wouldn't change a thing.

“Look, you can't predict these races. You can look like a hero or a zero pretty easily in this sport, so yeah, I wouldn’t ask anyone to change anything. I think they're doing all the right stuff, it's just not worked out.”

Newgarden also shrugged off the contact he and O’Ward made on the 170mph back straight as the Arrow McLaren SP driver passed him.

“Definitely I think on the limit, but I think it was good hard racing,” he said. “There's a kink on the back straight so it's not perfectly straight, so to be fighting side by side, I think you probably get a little bit of contact like that. It's not completely abnormal down in that section of the track.

“But he was coming like a freight train. My tires were cooked, and he was having great drives off the corner, as you saw. I think that's what kind of did us in. It almost did us in with Alex, too. Thankfully we were able to hold on to second, but yeah, just hard racing.”

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