Newgarden apologizes for opening lap chaos at Barber

Two-time IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden has apologized for causing the first-lap crash that took out Ryan Hunter-Reay and Colton Herta in the season-opener at Barber Motorsports Park.

Team Penske-Chevrolet driver Newgarden lost control on the exit of Turn 4, touched the grass and spun in front of the pack on the opening lap and was subsequently hit by the Andretti Autosport-Hondas of Herta and then Hunter-Reay. Arrow McLaren SP-Chevy driver Felix Rosenqvist also flew into the air after further contact with Max Chilton as the field scattered.

“I just got loose coming over the hill,” Newgarden told NBC. “I had a good start, we were lining in pretty nicely, but I just got loose in the wake. I felt I had [control of] the car, and touched the grass, and once I touched the grass it pitched me sideways.

“I feel really bad for everyone involved. My mess created a bigger mess behind, so I’m really sorry as it was obviously us who tipped it off. It was a shame, I felt like we had a really good car. We just have to bounce back at the next one.”

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Herta, who like Rosenqvist later rejoined the race in a rebuilt car to gain positions, said: “Man, that sucks. I was waiting for Newgarden to find a direction to spin in, I had Conor [Daly] on my right, and he kept spinning in the same place. It’s such a disappointing start. I’m ready to get out of here and go straight to St Pete.”

Both Newgarden and Hunter-Reay’s cars were too badly damaged to continue. The most impressive escapee from the crash was Rinus VeeKay, who was completely sideways in avoidance but recovered to finish sixth.

 

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