NEWTON, Iowa – Josef Newgarden extended Team Penske’s dominance at the Iowa Speedway, Winning the first race of a weekend doubleheader Saturday for his fourth shortest track win on the IndyCar schedule.
Newgarden raced to his consecutive fourth win of the season, moving up from fourth to second in the tight IndyCar championship battle. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson finished eighth and had reduced his lead in the standings to 15 points over Newgarden.
Newgarden was 44 points clear of the championship lead going into the race at the 0.894-mile oval and has even more ground to gain if IndyCar completes its doubleheader Sunday.
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Team Penske riders have won six of the last seven races in Iowa, which has brought in local grocer Hy-Vee as title sponsor of the Doubleheader entertainment extravaganza, which includes two races and musical performances by Tim McGraw, Florida Georgia Line, Gwen Stefani and Blake shelton
Pato O’Ward was second for Arrow McLaren SP, followed by polesitter Will Power of Penske and Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing as Chevrolet claimed the top four. The previous Saturday, Power won pole for both races to move away from Mario Andretti’s record of 67.
Scott Dixon, who finished second on the IndyCar winners list last week with Andretti at 52, finished fifth for Chip Ganassi Racing. Dixon was followed by six other Honda riders, including Ganassi teammate Alex Palou and Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean.
Seven-time NASCAR Champion Jimmie Johnson overcame an early spin to weave his way first to the lead and then to a consistent top-five finish. He made several brave passes down the high lane, including a nerve-wracking three-wide pass to take out two other drivers.
Earl Barban, Johnson’s longtime spotter, radioed that the pass “is going to be a highlight,” and the Ganassi crew asked Johnson if he was enjoying the 250 laps around Iowa in 100-degree temperatures.
“Yes, that’s an explosion,” Johnson replied.
Unfortunately, he dropped to 11th in the final sequence as only five riders finished on the lead lap.
Newgarden, meanwhile, has led 1,358 of 2,250 laps in his last eight visits to Iowa. But even with his fourth win of the year, with six races remaining, the championship fight still involves five riders separated by 59 points.