Newgarden takes dominant IndyCar win in St. Petersburg ahead of O’Ward and McLaughlin

Photo Credit: Penske Entertainment | Chris Owens
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It’s time for the first round of the 2024 IndyCar season. Who will secure the first victory of the year, pole sitter Josef Newgarden, Felix Rosenqvist from P2, reigning champion Alex Palou from outside the top 12 or an outsider?

Newgarden managed to hold on to the lead at the start, with Herta and O’Ward making their way up to P3 and P4, whereas Lundgaard was immediately forced to pit due to a puncture on his rear right tyre caused by contact with Palou heading into turn 4.

As per tyre strategy, three drivers in the top 10 are running alternate tyres at this point in the race: Rosenqvist, Herta and Dixon.

Among the drivers who lost the most positions at the start there was Grosjean, who was swallowed up, including by a very aggressive Scott McLaughlin, and dropped to P8. On the other hand, the biggest improver at the start was Dale Coyne’s Jack Harvey, who gained four positions, followed by Kirkwood, Rossi and Braun all with three each.

On lap 25 this was the top ten: Newgarden, Rosenqvist, Herta, O’Ward, Ericsson, McLaughlin, Veekay, Grosjean, Power and Armstrong.

However, shortly after the young Ganassi driver from New Zealand hit the wall and spun out from P10 as he damaged his car, issuing the first caution of the day.

The whole grid apart from Lundgaard decided to take advantage of the free pit opportunity, with Rosenqvist suffering from a slower stop and Herta exiting ahead of him.

The green flag resumes action on Lap 30, with Lundgaard leading from Rosenqvist and Herta, with the Andretti driver immediately overtaken by Newgarden and O’Ward. Power took P8 from Veekay, with Newgarden attempting to make a move on Rosenqvist.

Ultimately, the Penske driver is able to make it stick, with O’Ward overtaking his former teammate as well. McLaughlin found his way through the two Andretti drivers to enter the top 5.

The second retirement of the day sees Sting Ray Robb park his AJ Foyt car no.41 off-track due to a brake problem at turn 1, causing a caution.

At the restart on lap 39, Newgarden leads from O’Ward, Rosenqvist, McLaughlin, Herta, Ericsson, Veekay, Power, Dixon and Grosjean.

Further down the order, Blomqvist is defending nicely from Rahal’s assaults, with the best-performing rookie right now being Linus Lundqvist in P15, just ahead of David Malukas’s replacement for the weekend Callum Ilott behind the wheel of Arrow McLaren’s car no.6.

As Jon Bon Jovi would say, we’re halfway there: on Lap 50 the British driver attempted to overtake the rookie racing for Ganassi for P15

In his debut race for Andretti Marcus Ericsson significantly slowed, encountering a power issue at the same track where he had won only last season, whereas Dale Coyne’s Colin Braun went off at Turn 10.

Dixon and Power both complete passes over Veekay who struggles with tyre degradation, as it’s time for another round of pit stops, with Herta and Palou cycling at the lead. Rossi manages to exit ahead of Grosjean to enter the provisional top 10.

Lundqvist tried to make a move on Grosjean but instead came into contact with him and crashed out at the same spot that had taken out teammate Marcus Armstrong.

The top ten at the caution was consisting of  Newgarden, O’Ward, Herta, McLaughlin, Rosenqvist, Power, Rahal, Palou, Rossi and Dixon.

On Lap 73 at the restart it’s Penske time as Herta is passed by McLaughlin, and Power finds his way by overtaking Rosenqvist and the Andretti driver as well, putting all three Penske cars in the top 4.

Despite missing out on an entire practice session’s worth of time in the build-up to the main event, Ferrucci has been able to find his way near the top ten, holding P11 with 16 laps to go.

Canapino tried to make a move on his former teammate Ilott into turn 1 but is unsuccessful and thus forced to run wide on the marbles at turn 1, losing many positions.

Grosjean was awarded a drive-through penalty for his previous collision with Lundqvist, as it was deemed avoidable contact. Top rookie runner of the day is now Kyffin Simpson in P114 after a sleek move on Lundgaard.

The Frenchman in his first race with Juncos Hollinger Racing was then forced to pit and retire due to a gearbox issue.

With ten laps to go Newgarden still leads from O’Ward, his two Penske teammates, Herta, Palou, Rosenqvist, Rossi, Dixon and Veekay.

Power tried to make a move on his teammate McLaughlin for the final podium position but he was unsuccessful.

2023 Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden takes the first win of the 2024 season with a very dominant performance. Pato O’Ward is again runner-up in St. Pete and McLaughlin rounds off the podium.