Newgarden Sizzles In IndyCar Opener At St. Pete

Winner Josef Newgarden salutes the crowd in victory lane. [Joe Jennings Photo]

Winner Josef Newgarden salutes the crowd in victory lane. [Joe Jennings Photo]

By Joe Jennings

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Josef Newgarden sizzled in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which marked the season opener for the NTT IndyCar Series. Leading 60 laps, Newgarden wasn’t to be denied en-route to his first win here in eight tries. The Tennessee native won his 11th career victory.

Taking the lead for the first time on lap 16, Newgarden drove flawlessly and once at the front, he pulled away to commanding leads and his margin of victory was nearly three seconds.

The victor drove the Hitachi Chevrolet, one of three Team Penske entries. For Team Penske, the legendary team kept up its 2019 victory run in all forms of racing.

Before a capacity crowd on a hot day in St. Petersburg, the 110-lap race took place on the city’s highly technical 1.8-mile, 14-turn street course.

Said the happy winner, “We were literally talking about our tire strategy right before the race. We were trying to figure out should we go used or new reds, and we made the call at the last minute was to stay used. We’ll have that advantage if we need it, and we used it. It just worked out perfectly.

“I just can’t thank Chevy enough for all their support and what they put in this weekend. We had an incredible engine, we had everything we needed in fuel mileage and reliability and all the power. I’m telling you, we really figured things out on Saturday and it was a rocket ship. I’m so thankful to our group. We have the best of the best working at Team Penske.”

2018 champion Scott Dixon finished second and pole winner Will Power ended up third after leading 17 laps.

Dixon’s new teammate Felix Rosenqvist drove expertly to finish fourth. The Swedish driver led 31 laps while impressing drivers and fans.

Alexander Rossi earned fifth place.

Rounding out the top-10 were James Hinchcliffe, Simon Pagenaud, rookies Colton Herta and Santino Ferucci and Jack Harvey.

18 of the 24 starters were running at the end.

The action started early when two-time winner Sebastien Bourdais’s car flamed out in Turn 10 and shortly thereafter Ryan Hunter-Reay exited with mechanical issues.

On lap 28 Ed Jones crunched the wall near Turn 9 and was struck by Matheus Leist, who didn’t see the Jones machine.

Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg race results
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – Results Sunday of the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg NTT IndyCar Series event on the 1.8-mile Streets of St. Petersburg, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 110, Running
2. (4) Scott Dixon, Honda, 110, Running
3. (1) Will Power, Chevrolet, 110, Running
4. (3) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 110, Running
5. (6) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 110, Running
6. (9) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 110, Running
7. (13) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 110, Running
8. (11) Colton Herta, Honda, 110, Running
9. (23) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 110, Running
10. (7) Jack Harvey, Honda, 110, Running
11. (16) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 110, Running
12. (10) Graham Rahal, Honda, 109, Running
13. (17) Marco Andretti, Honda, 109, Running
14. (14) Zach Veach, Honda, 109, Running
15. (21) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 109, Running
16. (24) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 109, Running
17. (8) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 109, Running
18. (12) Ben Hanley, Chevrolet, 108, Running
19. (20) Takuma Sato, Honda, 75, Mechanical
20. (18) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 54, Mechanical
21. (15) Ed Jones, Chevrolet, 25, Contact
22. (22) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 25, Contact
23. (5) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 19, Mechanical
24. (19) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 11, Mechanical

Race Statistics
Winner’s average speed: 95.572 mph

Time of Race: 2:04:18.2588

Margin of victory: 2.8998 seconds

Cautions: 2 for 11 laps

Lead changes: 8 among 4 drivers

Lap Leaders: Power, Will 1 – 12; Rosenqvist, Felix 13 – 15; Newgarden, Josef 16; Rossi, Alexander 17 – 18; Power, Will 19 – 23; Rosenqvist, Felix 24 – 50; Newgarden, Josef 51 – 79; Rosenqvist, Felix 80; Newgarden, Josef 81 – 110

NTT IndyCar Series point standings: Newgarden 53, Dixon 40, Power 37, Rosenqvist 33, Rossi 31, Hinchcliffe 28, Pagenaud 26, Herta 24, Ferrucci 22, Harvey 20.

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