Will Power Wins Second IndyCar Title; Teammate Josef Newgarden second for the third time in a row

SALINAS, Calif. — Josef Newgarden wasn’t making it easy for his Team Penske teammate, but the two-time IndyCar champion didn’t have the magic in his bag — neither tire advantage nor Tim Cindric in his box — to trip up with the willpower.

Power, 41, eight years before his desperate battle for his first series title, which followed three consecutive second places, snagged his second championship Sunday with his ninth podium of the year to snag Chip Ganassi Racing’s back-to-back championship run.

That’s how Power got despite his only win of the season — the first driver in 25 years to win an IndyCar championship with a single win.

Newgarden’s wild strategy is not enough

Newgarden’s qualifying error on Saturday left him with a notable tire advantage, but he had to cobble together an outside-the-box strategy plan overnight with Cindric citing strategy for the No. 2 Chevy. Starting on black sticker tires, the two-time champion extended his first stint to 23 laps while most of the field and all title contenders were dipped by lap 15.

On fresh red tires he made his way into the field up to 14th place, 11 places up from the start where he had gained five places on lap 1 alone. Power, meanwhile, easily held the lead on the first lap and gained several seconds before Alex Palou caught him again on lap 27. Still comfortably in second place, things were looking up until the race’s lone caution would fall on lap 38.

09/11/2022;  Salinas, California, United States;  Team Penske driver Will Power (12) of Australia leads the field for the opening rounds of the Monterey Grand Prix at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.  Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

09/11/2022; Salinas, California, United States; Team Penske driver Will Power (12) of Australia leads the field for the opening rounds of the Monterey Grand Prix at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Caution creates drama

Callum Ilott, who started from the front row with polesitter power, came to a halt shortly after his first stop in the pits. Just three laps after Newgarden made his second stop, IndyCar race officials waited an extra long time to throw yellow for the British rookie’s incident, giving the field an opportunity to get past the pit lane and dive in if they like.

Virtually everyone did.

Nonetheless, Newgarden had jumped up to fifth place and was now in serious chasing proximity to the front lines. Shortly after returning to green flag running from lap 43, Newgarden stormed into fourth ahead of Pato O’Ward at the head of the corkscrew and did the same on the following lap on O’Ward’s teammate Felix Rosenqvist in third. Two laps later, Newgarden flew past his Penske teammate Power in the exact same spot for second. He was 7.5 seconds behind Palou – the Spaniard who was aiming for his first win of the year in his failed title defense campaign.

Palou ends Newgarden’s title hopes

But at this point, the #2 Chevy team hit an impasse. Hitting the accelerator hard for the first half of the race and pitting just three laps ahead of most of the field, Newgarden, with 40 laps to go, 8.6 seconds off Palou in the lead, was unable to get around making it to the end with just three stops like Palou, Power and the rest of the lead group.

If he somehow got it home by being gentle on the throttle the rest of the way, he certainly wasn’t going to make up his ever-growing deficit with Palou. So Cindric was forced to call out his driver on lap 60, hoping to put in a hot dozen laps or so on a set of sticker red tires, hoping to catch up the 30-second gap they had over the The leaders were left with an additional stop at the end.

coming out 6th After his lap 60 stop, Newgarden moved up to 2nd placend-place over the next eight laps, and when Palou made his final stop on lap 68, the five-time race winner that year took the lead and claimed a potentially all-important bonus point. When he made his final stop on lap 73, there was an 18 second gap between Newgarden and Palou – the 2017 and 2019 champion’s only shot at the time to eclipse Power in the points.

And instead of fighting to the end, Newgarden fell backwards like a stone. With five laps to go he had lost another 12 seconds to Palou in that final stint, with Power easily holding 3 secondsapprox-Place and a 16-point cushion in points. For the third year running, Newgarden would take second place at the Astor Cup and enter a final that needed a miracle, finishing 1stSt or 2ndbut still just short of a third championship.

Alex Palou jumps to fourth place in the final standings

Behind the Palou Newgarden Power Fight was Scott McLaughlin, who won the…th in the title race kept that place (52 points behind) with his 7th placeth– Placement in the final. With his three bonus point win by leading 66 laps on Sunday, Palou jumped past him from 6th to 4th Sunday, 50 points behind Power.

Marcus Ericsson in 9th was two spots behind McLaughlin, who he jockeyed with in midfield all dayth matching his 6thth– Placement in the championship a year ago, 54 points behind. Scott Dixon took the checkered flag 12th Sunday until the end of 3approx 39 points behind Power in the title race.

This article originally appeared on the Indianapolis Star: Will Power wins the IndyCar Championship for the second time in his career

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.