Story By: CURT CAVIN / INDYCAR – NEWTON, IA – The hour of day at Iowa Speedway was different, but the domination by Josef Newgarden was not. And this time, he won the Iowa 300.
For the fourth time in five years, Newgarden led the most laps in the race at the NTT IndyCar Series’ smallest track. Last year, he led 229 of the 300 laps but settled for a fourth-place finish. This time he went to victory lane by leading 245 laps in Team Penske’s No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet.
In 2016, Newgarden led 282 laps in an Ed Carpenter Racing car – he won that race — and in 2015 he led 111 laps and finished second.
Newgarden capped this victory, his fourth of the season and the 14th of his career, at 2:14 a.m. ET due to a pair of rain delays.
The start of the race was delayed four and a half hours due to severe weather, including lightning and heavy rain. The green flag finally waved at 11:45 p.m. ET.
A brief shower at 12:12 a.m. ET led to a red flag at Lap 55. Newgarden was leading then, having passed teammate Will Power amid traffic in Turn 1.
Newgarden admitted being sour after qualifying third Friday behind his teammates, polesitter Simon Pagenaud and Power. But he regrouped and refocused, channeling that energy to getting the car ready to race.
“I’m much happier tonight, I can tell you that,” Newgarden said. “I was really a little bit frustrated yesterday just because I knew we had a pole-winning car. We didn’t put it together. It’s competitive.”
The victory allowed Newgarden to extend his series points lead to 29 over Andretti Autosport’s Alexander Rossi, who finished sixth. Newgarden lapped Rossi on Lap 185, although Rossi battled back to make it interesting for a few laps.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon finished second for the fifth time this season in the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda after falling a lap off the pace early in the race. The recovery came as a result of smart pit strategy initiated by the crew – they gave him new tires on Lap 268 — and it keyed Dixon’s 45th career second-place finish. The five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion has now finished first or second in 90 of his 316 career starts (28.4 percent).
It was quite the comeback.
“Huge credit to the team,” Dixon said. “They (left) me out pretty long before the last caution. It enabled us to stay on the lead lap, get that lucky yellow, get new tires. (We) had a good restart, were able to (pass) some cars. … We were actually probably going to be happy with a top 14 or 15 (finish), so that was pretty stellar.”
Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ James Hinchcliffe, who won last year’s race, finished third in the No. 5 Arrow Honda. The top-three finish was his first since this race a year ago.
“For all the fans that stayed out, weathered the storm – literally – huge thanks,” Hinchcliffe said. “I think it was well worth the wait. Hopefully everybody that did come and stayed for the race enjoyed the show. It felt pretty exciting from where we were sitting.”
Next up is the Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. Rossi won last year’s race in convincing fashion, but recent history suggests there will be a different winner. The past six races have seen six different drivers reach victory lane, including Dixon, who in 2014 won for a record fifth time on the 13-turn, 2.258-mile permanent road course.
The July 28 race will air on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network at 3:30 p.m. ET.