A third time’s the charm for Josef Newgarden after he held off Marcus Ericsson on the closing laps at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to nab his first win of the season.
The win comes on Independence day for the American and on the 50th anniversary of Team Penske’s first win in motorsports. Newgarden also became the leader in wins among active drivers as he passed Ryan Hunter-Reay with 19.
One wouldn’t associate fireworks on Independence day with the afternoon, but that’s exactly what happened Sunday at Mid-Ohio as two incidents occurred in the opening laps and before a single lap could be completed under the green flag.
On the opening lap, a stack up caused three cars to go around as James Hinchcliffe made contact with Hunter-Reay and both men spun. Felix Rosenqvist became collateral damage as he was turned by Romain Grosjean. All three drivers remained in the race.
However, fortunes were not as good to Will Power after he spun in turn five trying to pass Scott Dixon. With the smoke and incline causing drivers to not see Power, Ed Jones hit the Team Penske car, which ended the day for both men.
The on-track action cooled down after the second restart with Newgarden pacing the field.
While trying to hold on to ninth place, Sebastien Bourdais threw a block on the charging Grosjean for the position.
IndyCar race control jumped in swiftly and forced Bourdais to give up two spots on the track for the move.
Action was few and far between for the remainder of the race, but drama was stiff on pit road for Colton Herta. On his first stop, the young American pitted from the lead and suffered a fueling issue that caused him to be stuck in his stall for 25 seconds. He was running second prior to the cycle, but came out fighting to stay in the top 10.
Herta rallied before his final stop, but his pit-road woes didn’t end as he stalled the car and came back out on track in ninth. Herta went on to finish 13th.
Newgarden led out front comfortably, but the motorsports community began sweating for the driver as in the prior two weeks, Newgarden was passed after a late restart in Detroit and suffered a mechanical issue with two laps to go at Road America.
As the laps wound down, Ericsson closed the gap on Newgarden while the leader was approaching lapped traffic.
On the final lap, the gap was less than a second, but Newgarden found himself with more push to pass boost than Ericsson, which helped him maintain his lead and hold off the surging Swede to finally earn his first win of 2021.
Newgarden remains in the championship hunt with six races to go as he runs 69 points behind points leader Alex Palou.
In just his second IndyCar season and first at Chip Ganassi Racing, Palou has done nothing but emerge into a superstar. He continued a consistent season Sunday as he scored his sixth podium of the year and fifth in the last six races.
Palou extended his championship lead over Patricio O’Ward to 39 points after O’Ward finished eighth.
Dixon’s day wasn’t what he had planned, but the six-time champion is still in the championship hunt as well as he runs third in points and 56 points behind Palou.
It’s going to be over a month before IndyCar returns to action and they will do it on Aug. 8 in the series debut on the Nashville streets.
- Josef Newgarden
- Marcus Ericsson
- Alex Palou
- Scott Dixon
- Alexander Rossi
- Graham Rahal
- Romain Grosjean
- Patricio O’Ward
- Santino Ferrucci
- Takuma Sato
- Sebastien Bourdais
- Scott McLaughlin
- Colton Herta
- Simon Pagenaud
- Conor Daly
- Rinus VeeKay
- James Hinchcliffe
- Max Chilton
- Jack Harvey
- Ryan Norman
- Dalton Kellett
- Jimmie Johnson
- Felix Rosenqvist
- Ryan Hunter-Reay
- Will Power
- Ed Jones