ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. — Josef Newgarden and Team Penske are $1 million richer becoming the first driver this season to win on a road course, street course, and an oval this season.
Newgarden overcame two late caution flags in the last ten laps to secure his third win of the season. Evermore crucial, the win clawed Newgarden back onto solid footing in the championship hunt.
“You’ve got to be on your toes at all times (in this series). You can go in with a plan, but you probably have to change your plan 90 percent of the time once the race starts to unfold. To be able to hit all these disciplines with this team, for me it’s the best series in the world.”
Newgarden, who started second next to pole sitter Alexander Rossi, led 26 of the race’s 55 laps. He took the lead for good on lap 43 on a bold pit strategy move that paid off in the end.
He was able to build a massive lead over the last two restarts, keeping Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson just far enough to make it impossible for the Swedish driver to catch him.
Rossi would wind up third for his second podium finish in a row.
“I tried to be really aggressive on that last restart, and it cost us,” Rossi said. “But we were trying to win the race. But ultimately a good day. Josef certainly had a little better base than us, and it took us until the last stint to dial in the balance of the car.”
As for Newgarden’s million-dollar winnings, $500,000 goes to Team Penske, while the other half goes to Newgarden himself. Newgarden says he plans to donate to the SeriousFun Children’s Network and Wags and Walks Nashville.
Championship leader Will Power did not have a good day, finishing 19th. Ericsson’s second-place finish, his fourth top-seven finish in a row, allowed the Swede to regain the lead in the championship standings. Power falls to second ahead of Newgarden.
The series will have a three-week layoff before heading to Mid-Ohio on July 3rd.