Newgarden wins for Penske in Alabama
Birmingham, Ala. — Josef Newgarden put himself in position to battle teammate Will Power to the end. He didn’t need to.
Newgarden kept Team Penske on top at Barber Motorsports Park Sunday with his second Indy Grand Prix of Alabama win in three years.
The new Penske driver didn’t allow Scott Dixon an opening over the final stretch to give Chevrolet its first win of the season. Newgarden had moved to the front for the first time when Power was forced to pit with a punctured left rear tire with 14 laps to go.
“It was a tough day. It was not easy to win this one,” said Newgarden, who picked up his fourth victory. “Obviously we got a little bit of help there at the end with Will, but I don’t think you know how it would have played out.
“Will certainly had a great shot. He was in good position to win this race, and for him to have issues is always tough to see.”
Newgarden was overshadowed by his own teammates coming into the race that’s only three hours from his hometown of Hendersonville, Tennessee. Power, the pole sitter, Helio Castroneves and defending champion Simon Pagenaud were the top three qualifiers after small Honda teams won the first two races.
Pagenaud finished third and Castroneves fourth.
Newgarden’s work was far from done after Power headed to pit lane, with Dixon a near-annual contender on the road course.
“When you have a Dixon behind you for 20 laps, that shows how good the driver is,” team owner Roger Penske said.
It remains even more of a Penske-dominated track with Newgarden’s addition , and one where Dixon can’t get over the hump. Dixon has five second-place finishes and seven podium finishes in eight years.
“Good in a lot of ways, but unfortunately we come here to win and we came up short,” Dixon said in a familiar refrain at Barber.
Power, meanwhile, didn’t want to pit initially, but he finally yielded to the harsh reality after leading 60 laps.
“The car was awesome, so fast,” he said. “I don’t know what to say. I could feel it. I tried to tell them for as long as I could that it was fine, but it was going down.”
Long Beach winner James Hinchcliffe was sixth. Zach Veach finished 19th for Ed Carpenter Racing in his IndyCar debut, subbing for an injured JR Hildebrand.