BY JIM MILLER WEEKLY INDYCAR WRITER
Typically the race winner thrusts both arms as high in the air as possible in jubilation. Not at the Iowa Speedway on Sunday where the winner gently lifted his right arm into the air as far as he could. With thirteen pins surgically implanted in his collarbone and his right wrist still in a brace from being broken a who could blame him.
Josef Newgarden (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter Racing) proved he is a formidable driver by leading 282 of the 300 laps to thoroughly dominate the Iowa Corn 300. This was Newgarden’s third career win and his first on an oval. The young driver from Tennessee had finished runner-up in 2014 and 2015 on this physically demanding .894 mile oval.
What a great car!” Newgarden exclaimed in Victory Circle. “Today was the best car I ever had. My right hand was killing me but it helps to have a great car!”
Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Chevrolet) claimed the pole position on Saturday giving Team Penske its 500th pole position in all varieties of racing. But once the green flag dropped Pagendaud was immediately passed by his front-row competitor Newgarden who steadily pulled away.
Newgarden and Pagenaud stretched ahead as battles for position ensued behind them. By Lap 100 Newgarden had lapped everyone except Pagenaud.
Other than slower cars being passed and falling off the lead lap there were no on-track issues until Lap 108 when Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosports) suffered extensive mechanical failure coasting to a stop with flames and a massive smoke cloud coming out the rear of his car. This ended RHR’s attempt at a third consecutive win at this venue. He was the first to exit the race.
The other two cautions of the day occurred on Lap 179 with Juan Pablo Montoya (Team Penske) experiencing mechanical issues, and Lap 246 when Max Chilton (Chip Ganassi Racing) spun coming out of Turn 2 unintentionally setting up the final pit stop opportunity for everyone except Tony Kanaan (Chip Ganassi Racing) who pitted on Lap 245 and got buried in the field putting him up a lap down.
Restarting the race with only 40 laps remaining Newgarden led a field with only six cars on the lead lap and boldly fought off a charging Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) who steadily climbed his way into contention. As Newgarden began to pull away in the final laps, Dixon, Pagenaud and Will Power (Team Penske) vied for second, with Power passing Pagenaud on Lap 295 and then passing Dixon on Lap 296, moving himself from fourth to second.
Newgarden won by 4.2828 seconds over Will Power. Dixon claimed third place, Pagenaud took fourth and Mikhail Aleshin (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) came in fifth as the highest finishing Honda.
The season championship standings shuffled with Pagenaud still on top but Newgarden unofficially now in second place 73 points behind.
The Verizon IndyCar Series next heads across the northern border for the Honda Indy Toronto on the streets of Exhibition Place on Sunday, July 17.