No. 2 Fitzgerald USA Dallara/Chevrolet – Josef Newgarden
Laps Completed: 85/85
Laps Led: 20
Points Position: 1st (+6 pts)
- Josef Newgarden kept his points lead despite struggling through wet, rainy conditions on Saturday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course behind the wheel of the No. 2 Fitzgerald USA Chevrolet, coming home with a 15th-place finish.
- After qualifying an uncharacteristic 13th, Newgarden and race strategist Tim Cindric used an “off sequence” pit strategy early on to help gain the No. 2 Chevrolet track position. It worked out, following two early caution flags in the first 20 laps, and Newgarden cycled to the lead for the first time on lap 28. He would lead the field until coming in for another pit stop, once again off sequence than most of the front runners, at lap 40.
- Newgarden continued to play the pit stop game and retook the lead once again on lap 52. By this time, a light mist that had been falling most of the race turned to a harder downpour, forcing Newgarden and Cindric to make a decision on whether to take on rain tires or stick with slicks. The duo elected to stick with red alternate tires, hoping the rain would taper off.
- However, a caution flag for a stalled car and increasing rain caused the track to get extensively wet and Newgarden was forced to pit again for wets. To make matters worse, a pit road violation for a uncontrolled tire forced the points leader to have to start at the back of the field.
- In the final stint, Newgarden was able to drive from 19th to 15th at the checkers. The finish allowed him to keep the points lead, but by just six points over Scott Dixon.
Quote: “I knew we were sitting pretty good. I thought we pitted at the right point. We had at a great car. I could get through traffic. Everything was clicking and we were just kind of cruising there until that final pit stop. I think what really put a knife in us was the caution that came out. When we did pit for the caution, it wasn’t time – the track wasn’t quite there. We probably needed two or three laps on the dry (tires). When I came in I was screaming to stay on red tires. I really thought (the track) wasn’t ready yet, and I didn’t want to go to rain tires, and that was probably a mistake. I should have said, ‘Go to rains.’ If we would have gone to rains we would have been in the catbird seat still coming out first. Just a calamity of errors there at the end put a couple nails in our coffin. I’m proud of our boys; I thought we did a good job. Chevy did a great job. Congrats to Simon; good to see him get a win, (and) it helps me a little bit in the championship. We kept it in the family and Team Penske got a win today.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!