Josef Newgarden strikes again in Iowa ahead of McLaughlin and O’Ward

Spread the love

After a delayed qualifying it is time for the first race of the weekend in Iowa. Will Power will start on pole position for the sixty-ninth time of his Indycar career, whereas RLL’s Jack Harvey has received a nine places grid penalty for causing a collision during last week’s race in Toronto and drops at the back of the grid.

It’s a Penske dominated grid, as all three of their drivers will start from the top three, with Scott McLaughlin in P2 and last season’s winner Josef Newgarden in P3, with championship leader Alex Palou in P7. Benjamin Pedersen will start from P28 after failing the technical checks earlier this morning.

At the start, the top 5 has remained the same, with a very close fight between Grosjean and Malukas for P9 which sees the latter prevail. By lap 6 Rahal has dropped down to P20 as the top two non Penske drivers Scott Dixon and Pato O’Ward fight for P4. Ultimately the McLaren driver takes the position over the Ganassi six times champion.

Ryan Hunter Reay had an impressive start as well, passing on the outside three drivers including Helio Castroneves.

Takuma Sato is a driver who has significantly improved his starting position, in P8 by lap 8, whereas Alexander Rossi after a tough qualifying which saw him start the first race in P21 has already made 8 positions up the order to P13.

On Lap 19 championship leader Palou tries to pass Herta for P6, but is unsuccessful, as the top three drivers lap Robb and Pedersen at the bottom of the grid. Power leads the race with 0.286s on McLaughlin and 1.345s on Newgarden.

Dale Coyne’s David Malukas moves up to P7, passing Ericsson and Herta for a very impressive day so far by the American-Lithuanian driver, then to P6 ahead of Dixon. Palou has moved up ahead of his teammate as well, with the Spanish driver now in P5.

Andretti’s Herta and Dixon have both dropped a bit back from their starting positions, as by lap 39 they are P11 and P8. Race leader Power has lapped Rahal in P19 for a very dominant display from Team Penske.

Herta is the first driver to pit on Lap 42, but it’s a very slow pit for the Andretti driver, who rejoins the grid three laps down. Many drivers follow him around Lap 50, including the winner of the last round Christian Lundgaard in P21.

Kirkwood and Rossi have found their way up to the top ten, but are closely followed by the very fast race leader. McLaren pits at the same time Rossi and O’Ward on Lap 61, with Ericsson, Power and Kirkwood coming in on the lap after. Alex Palou has instead opted for staying out for an extra lap.

After a first early pit round, the Penske trio is still holding on to their podium start, followed by O’Ward and Veekay, who had pitted on Lap 46. The last lapped driver is Kirkwood in P15.

Ericsson and Sato overtake the Ed Carpenter Racing driver for P5 and P6, with Veekay ending up ahead of Palou. On Lap 82 McLaughling lapped Kirkwood and tried to make a move on Power for the lead.

Graham Rahal almost brushed the wall, picking up tyre damage but managing to keep racing, losing from P10 to P14. On Lap 89 Malukas in P10 is the last driver on the leader lap as McLaughlin doubles his efforts to pass Power. However, this only allows Newgarden from P3 to catch up with the leading duo.

Newgarden completed the move on McLaughlin on Lap 95 in the midst of traffic. The top 10 at the 100 laps mark features Power, Newgarden, McLaughlin, O’Ward, Ericsson, Sato, Palou, Rossi Dixon and Malukas.

The four times winner at Iowa tried to make a move on Power for the lead, as Hunter Reay pits on Lap 103, kicking off another set of pit stops.

Rossi fights to stay on the lead lap on Lap 110 but has to concede to Power, as Newgarden drops a bit off after another attempt to pass the reigning champion. Dixon in P7 is lapped on the 113th lap.

Pedersen, running last, suffers from a slightly slow pit and rejoins the grid seven laps down.

Newgarden assertively takes the lead from Power on Lap 121, as Palou is the latest driver unable to stay on the lead lap. The Spanish driver pits, and is joined by his Ganassi teammate Dixon. The top three pits as well.

Sato is left in the lead on Lap 126, pitting the lap after in spite of having gone for the undercut during his first stint, pitting six laps earlier than the Penske trio. Ericsson was shortly in P3 after a good pit strategy, but immediately succumbed to McLaughlin and is passed on Lap 133by O’Ward as well.

Newgarden and Power develop a six second lead on their teammate by Lap 135. Three laps later, Newgarden laps Sato in P9, as Palou is the last driver on the lead lap.

Illot runs off racing line on Lap 144, rejoining in P18 two laps down. Power slightly brushed the wall, losing position to McLaughlin and O’Ward but is able to resume his race with no major issues.

By Lap 150 the top ten features Newgarden, McLaughlin, O’Ward, Power and Ericsson, with Lundgaard pitting the lap after. The first Caution of the race is issued as Rahal stops off track on Lap 152 for the longest green flag running ever in Iowa.

The RLL driver hit the wall and bumped back on track, but didn’t bring anyone else out with him. Many drivers come into the pits, including the top three. Only six cars are left on the lead lap: Newgarden, McLaughlin, O’Ward, Power, Ericsson and Kirkwood.

The Caution will be issued for longer than needed only to remove Rahal’s car as marbles are also removed from the track to ensure more racing and lanes for drivers to pass.

Racing restarts on Lap 167 as Kirkwood an Ericsson get past Power and O’Ward attempts to pass McLaughlin but isn’t able to make it stick. On Lap 171 Power returns ahead of Ericsson and Kirkwood.

Photo credit: Team Penske

After his starting grid penalty Harvey is now running in P13 for a great recovery by the RLL Racing driver. With 200 laps to go the top ten consists of Newgarden, McLaughlin, O’Ward, Power, Ericsson, Kirkwood, Palou, Dixon, Rossi and Sato. Biggest on track improvers are Kirkwood, Rossi and Harvey, who all made up 11 positions.

On Lap 207 many drivers dive into the pits for fresh tyres, including McLaughlin, O’Ward, Ericsson and Sato. The lap after sees Newgarden in, leaving Rossi briefly in the lead.

With 40 laps to go a situation happened in the pits between the AJ Foyt drivers and Defrancesco, as Ericsson passes Power for P4. The Andretti driver coming in the pits and Pedersen coming out slightly collided, with the rookie driver closing in on his teammate Ferrucci who was pitting. Pedersen was then penalised with a drive through for unsafe release.

On Lap 218 Newgarden has developed a 3s gap on McLaughlin in P2, whereas Dixon has passed Kirkwood for P6. Last car on the lead lap is Palou, lapped by the second driver in the championship standings with 20 laps to go.

Kirkwood and Palou fight for P7, but the Andretti driver manages to hold on to P7 and the the lead lap. Kirkwood is lapped by Newgarden on Lap 242, with the Floridian driver ghting to return on the kead lap.

The move has allowed McLaughlin in P2 to reduce his gap to 1.2s, but the 500 winner, once cleared Kirkwood, rebuilt his gap on the teammate and friend.

Newgarden takes his fifth ever win in Iowa and a fourth oval win in a row, which brings him up to P2 in the drivers’s standings. He is joined by his Bus Bro Scott McLaughlin, who has achieved his first ever non win podium of 2023, and Pato O’Ward, a fifth seasonal podium for the McLaren driver.

Championship leader Alex Palou finished a solid P8 to maintain a very healthy lead in the standings.