Newgarden leads 212 laps to secure Iowa sweep at Hy-Vee One Step 250

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photo: Penske Entertainment/Joe Skibinski

Josef Newgarden continued his dominant form at Iowa, leading 212 of the 250 laps–and 341 of 500 laps this weekend–to sweep the weekend and win the Hy-Vee One Step 250 on Sunday. The Team Penske driver led a 1-2 with teammate and polesitter Will Power finishing .705 seconds behind, and championship leader Alex Palou working his way to a third place finish for Chip Ganassi Racing. Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist worked his way up from 16th starting position to second place at one point and was in contention for the win in a shootout finish, but ultimately finished fourth, ahead of Penske’s Scott McLaughlin.

The top five all finished on the lead lap, with Ganassi’s Scott Dixon, Andretti Autosport driver Colton Herta, Dale Coyne Racing’s David Malukas, Ganassi driver Marcus Ericsson, and Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward rounding out the top ten, but one lap down and out of contention at the end.

Newgarden had started in seventh, with his Penske teammates Power and McLaughlin on the front row, and while those two locked out the top spots for the first 30 laps–and Ericsson had a rocket start to go from tenth to fifth in one lap and third within a couple laps–Newgarden slowly worked his way up the field. By lap 10, he was in fifth, fourth by lap 25, made a difficult three-wide move with Ericsson and the lapped Santino Ferrucci to take third on lap 27, and on lap 31 went around both his teammates for the lead.

Newgarden wouldn’t have an easy go of things, as he stretched leads as large as five seconds before being brought back to earth either by traffic or by caution flags. The first yellow came on lap 87 for Agustin Canapino hitting the wall; he would continue, but needed extensive repairs and finished 26th. The restart didn’t come until lap 107, and Newgarden was challenged by McLaughlin, but he would hold the position and continued in the lead.

Shortly after the second round of pitstops ended, the second caution came out on lap 157 when the left rear wheel of Dale Coyne Racing’s Sting Ray Robb, which had not merely been improperly fastened but in fact had not been fastened at all, came off his car and rolled into the racing line, with all cars thankfully missing the errant wheel. The team had sent him out knowing that the wheel wasn’t fastened on–and were apparently going to fix the wheel when he came back in–and for this transgression Indycar parked the car for the race once Robb came back in.

At this point a handful of cars came in to attempt to change up strategy, including McLaughlin, O’Ward, and Palou, who had worked his way up from starting 12th into the top ten by this point. On the restart at lap 169, Newgarden led Power and Dixon, with Herta quickly moving up to third in a lap, but Rosenqvist was gaining ground. He had made it to seventh when the caution came out, was fifth on the restart, and by lap 179 had passed Herta for third. There were no cautions to mix the strategy up before the next pit window, though; McLaughlin made it back up from eighth to fourth by the time the green flag stops began, but, though he did lead a lap when Newgarden came in, he would be right back in fourth–behind Newgarden, Rosenqvist, and Power–when everyone had madae their final stops.

There would be one more caution, however, on lap 190 when Ed Carpenter Racing’s Ryan Hunter-Reay hit the wall in turn four. The yellow set up a shootout to the finish between the five lead lap cars, but on the restart Newgarden was untouchable. Power moved past Rosenqvist, who, with McLaughlin, slid out of contention after being right in the thick of it for much of the race. Palou, meanwhile, held his ground and took his best finish ever at Iowa Speedway to mitigate the hit his lead took from Newgarden’s back-to-back wins.

Palou still leads the championship by 80 points heading into the always chaotic Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on August 6.