American Josef Newgarden claimed his fourth win of the IndyCar season on Saturday, holding off Mexican Pato O’Ward in the final laps to win the Iowa 250.
Newgarden celebrated his fourth career triumph at the .894 mile oval in Newton, Iowa after leading 208 of 250 laps in hot and windy conditions.
“I knew we had the car to win this race,” said Newgarden. “This is one of my favorite routes. I always love winning this race.”
O’Ward was second followed by Australian polesitter Will Power, Dutchman Rinus VeeKay and New Zealander Scott Dixon.
“I pushed Josef at the end,” O’Ward said. “We didn’t quite have it.”
Newgarden, the 2017 and 2019 IndyCar season winner, previously won in 2016, 2019 and 2020 in Iowa.
Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson of Sweden leads the season’s points chase 375-360 ahead of Newgarden, despite the American’s best wins of the season after adding Iowa to Texas, Long Beach and Road America.
“We are in battle. We’re not where we want to be,” Newgarden said. “I know we can do better.”
Power is third, 22 points off the pace, with defending champion Alex Palou of Spain 33 points back, six-time IndyCar champion Dixon 38 points back and O’Ward 59 points back.
“Another Top 3. I can’t see those as bad days,” said Power. “I was absolutely thrilled to finish third, to persevere like that. In the end, the tires were gone.”
The race was the first of two events this weekend in Iowa, the 11th and 12th of 17 races this season. The Salute to Farmers 300 will be contested on Sunday.
Power swept pole qualifying Saturday morning for both races, taking his career IndyCar pole total to 66, one shy of Mario Andretti’s all-time record.
Power’s first chance to take on Andretti will come next Friday in qualifying for next Saturday’s race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway street circuit, where the Australian has claimed six pole positions.
– Hottest race since 2012 –
The heat reached 99 degrees F (37.2 Celsuis), the highest IndyCar race temperature since 2012 in Fontana, California.
Newgarden retained the lead from Power on a lap 173 restart after a crash by American Ed Carpenter, but ran into slower cars with 50 laps to go.
O’Ward passed Power with 33 laps remaining and took aim at Newgarden as they weaved through traffic but were never able to pass him.
“I was surprised at how hard these guys pushed for the restarts,” Newgarden said. “It was a long-distance day.”
Power picked up at the start and held the lead until front row neighbor Newgarden passed him on lap 24.
Newgarden retained the lead after the first two pit stop cycles and held on after Ericsson ran for the lead on a restart on lap 136, touching the wheels with Newgarden before falling behind.