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Newgarden’s Second Straight Win Springs Him To Championship Lead

Josef Newgarden celebrates at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with his second win in a row in the Verizon IndyCar Series. [Andy Clary Photo]

LEXINGTON, Ohio (Sunday, July 30, 2017) – Josef Newgarden finally completed what he started at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, bursting into the Verizon IndyCar Series championship lead after winning the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio in dominant fashion.

Newgarden led 73 of 90 laps on the 2.258-mile permanent road course, taking the checkered flag 5.1556 seconds ahead of Team Penske teammate Will Power. It gave the Tennessean back-to-back wins, following his triumph July 16 at the Honda Indy Toronto.

Newgarden also vaulted atop the season standings for the first time in his six-year Verizon IndyCar Series career. He is the first American-born driver to lead the championship since Ryan Hunter-Reay won the title in 2014 and holds a seven-point lead over another Team Penske driver, Helio Castroneves, after 13 of 17 races.

“I feel like no one can take anything away from this win,” Newgarden said. “With this team on the (No.) 2 car side, I feel like we really did a great job today. There was no luck involved in that. We went out and won the race.”

Driving the No. 2 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet, Newgarden started second and made a daring pass of pole sitter Power for first place on Lap 13. He surrendered the lead for just four laps the rest of the way as pit stops cycled through.

Newgarden has contended for the win at Mid-Ohio each of the past three seasons, but various incidents prevented the rising INDYCAR star from sealing the deal. Today, in his first season with Team Penske, the 26-year-old did just that.

“We’ve been close before here,” he said. “I feel like we’ve always found speed. … It’s just nice to get something at a track I haven’t had a previous history of winning the race. That was nice.”

The second-place finish continued a frustrating run for Power, driver of the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. The 2014 series champion has started in the top four at Mid-Ohio for eight straight years – including pole positions in 2010, ’11 and this year – but he has yet to win at the track.

“I know we started on the pole and finished second, and that could be viewed as coming up short in some way,” Power said, “but it was a very good finish for the Verizon Chevrolet.  We really weren’t on the pace all weekend and really got the most out of qualifying.

“So second (place), for the pace of my car, that was as good as we could get today. We’ve had too many seconds in this place, though.”

Local favorite Graham Rahal finished third in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda. It was the fourth top-five finish at Mid-Ohio in as many years for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver and New Albany, Ohio, native. Rahal was the last driver to win consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series races, sweeping both ends of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear doubleheader weekend in early June.

“Our car had great pace today, we just could never quite get in clear air,” Rahal said. “I’m really proud of everyone on the Steak ‘n Shake team. … We’re going to keep our heads down, keep working hard.”

Castroneves finished seventh in the No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet to retain second place in the championship. Newgarden has scored 453 points to 446 for the Brazilian driving in his 20th Indy car season. Four-time series champion Scott Dixon finished ninth in the race and slipped from first to third in the season standings with 445 points. Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud finished fourth in the race and is fourth in points with 436. Power is fifth with 401 points and Rahal sixth with 395.

The race ran caution-free until Dale Coyne Racing rookie Ed Jones spun into the grass in Turn 9 on Lap 67, bringing out the race’s only yellow flag after Newgarden had built a 10-second advantage. Newgarden quickly sped away on the Lap 71 restart and wasn’t challenged the rest of the way.

The next race on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule is the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 20. The 500-mile race on the “Tricky Triangle” oval airs live at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

Mazda Road to Indy recap

Nico Jamin of Andretti Autosport completed the Mazda Road to Indy hat trick, winning today’s Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires race to make him victorious at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in all three MRTI levels. The 21-year-old Frenchman won three Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda races at the track in 2015 and collected a pair of Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires last year.

Jamin won by 0.5026 of a second over Santi Urrutia, the Belardi Auto Racing driver who won the first race of the weekend doubleheader on Saturday. Despite finishing 12th today, Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing) retains a 42-point lead in the championship over Urrutia and Colton Herta (Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing) with two Indy Lights races remaining.

In the third Pro Mazda race of the Mid-Ohio weekend, Anthony Martin made a statement, racing away to victory by 13.9957 seconds over championship rival Victor Franzoni. Martin (Cape Motorsports), the 2016 USF2000 champion, moved four points ahead of Franzoni (Juncos Racing) in the standings with three races to go.

The Pro Mazda results remain unofficial, however. The cars of Martin, Franzoni and TJ Fischer were impounded for further evaluation this week in Indianapolis – an extension of the current inspection process.

 

Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio race results

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Results Sunday of the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Verizon IndyCar Series event on the 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, aero kit-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 90, Running
2. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 90, Running
3. (4) Graham Rahal, Honda, 90, Running
4. (7) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 90, Running
5. (3) Takuma Sato, Honda, 90, Running
6. (9) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 90, Running
7. (5) Helio Castroneves, Chevrolet, 90, Running
8. (10) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 90, Running
9. (6) Scott Dixon, Honda, 90, Running
10. (11) Conor Daly, Chevrolet, 90, Running
11. (8) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 90, Running
12. (14) Marco Andretti, Honda, 90, Running
13. (13) Charlie Kimball, Honda, 90, Running
14. (21) Mikhail Aleshin, Honda, 90, Running
15. (18) Max Chilton, Honda, 90, Running
16. (17) Tony Kanaan, Honda, 90, Running
17. (19) JR Hildebrand, Chevrolet, 90, Running
18. (20) Carlos Munoz, Chevrolet, 89, Running
19. (16) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 89, Running
20. (12) Esteban Gutierrez, Honda, 89, Running
21. (15) Ed Jones, Honda, 88, Running

Race Statistics
Winners average speed:  114.677 mph
Time of Race: 01:46:19.5989
Margin of victory: 5.1556 seconds
Cautions: 1 fo4 4 laps
Lead changes: 8 among 3 drivers

Lap Leaders:
Power 1-12
Newgarden 13-17
Rahal 18
Newgarden 19-39
Power 40
Rahal 41-42
Newgarden 43-65
Power 66
Newgarden 67-90

Verizon IndyCar Series point standings: Newgarden 453, Castroneves 446, Dixon 445, Pagenaud 436, Power 401, Rahal 395, Sato 381, Rossi 358, Kanaan 320, Hinchcliffe 316.
 

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