LAST-TURN PASS GIVES NEWGARDEN SPECTACULAR WIN IN NTT INDYCAR SERIES XPEL 375
Two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Josef Newgarden led only two of the first 247 laps of the XPEL 375 but made a bold move to the outside of Team Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin on the last turn of the last lap to lead the one that counted and claim a dramatic victory at Texas Motor Speedway.
McLaughlin (No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet) led a race-best 186 laps, including 42 of the final 43, before Newgarden (No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet) nosed ahead coming to the line to take the checkered flag by just 0.0669-of-a-second. The win was the 600th for Team Penske across all its motorsports platforms.
Marcus Ericsson (No. 8 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda), Will Power (No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet), and Scott Dixon (No. 9 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet) rounded out the top five.
"Oh my gosh! That was, I was fuming in the car,” said Newgarden, who previously won at TMS in 2019. “We had all this traffic, and it wasn't helping me and then right when I needed it to help me. And then right when I needed it to help me, literally last corner, last lap traffic helped me out.
“Unbelievable PPG car in victory lane. Also, our XPEL car. How about Scott (McLaughlin)? I think he led like 95 percent of the laps. I hate doing that to a teammate, but I was going for it just like he was. We were driving hard. Man, I was loose. I was driving things sideways off of three and four every lap. I was trying to get a run, but Team Chevy what an unbelievable job right? We showed up, got the pole, got the win for Team Chevy's camp, and just so pleased for everybody. It was so good to drive this PPG car again with Team Chevy."
Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda), making his NTT INDYCAR SERIES oval debut after earning seven NASCAR Cup Series wins at Texas Motor Speedway along with seven series championships, finished an INDYCAR career-best sixth place. The balance of the Top-10 finishers were Alex Palou (No. 10 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda), Simon Pagenaud (No 60 Meyer Shank Racing Honda), Santino Ferrucci (No. 45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda) who just this morning found out he was replacing Jack Harvey who crashed Saturday in final practice, and Rinus VeeKay (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet).
“I hoped to qualify in the top 10 and race in the top 10,” Johnson said. “Missed the qualifying mark a bit, but once we hit the halfway point of the race, I really could sense and feel the car. It became second nature, and off I went. We knew going oval racing would help, and today got us into the competitive mix.”
Felix Rosenqvist put the No. 7 ARROW McLaren SP Racing Chevrolet on the pole for the second time in his NTT INDYCAR SERIES career with Saturday afternoon’s run of 46.8906 seconds at 221.110 mph. He bested No. 2 qualifier McLaughlin by just 0.003-of-a-second.
Rosenqvist led the 27-car field to green at 1:45 p.m. local time but McLaughlin moved to the point before the first circuit around the 1.5-quad-oval speedway. The New Zealander would go on to lead the first 57 laps before a scheduled pit stop under green for fuel and tires.
The balance of the field cycled through green-flag stops over the next few laps, putting McLaughlin back to the front on Lap 69 with Newgarden, O’Ward, Rosenqvist and Ericsson rounding out the top 5.
Caution slowed the field on Lap 99 when Takuma Sato (No. 51 Dale Coyne Racing with RWR Honda) made contact with the outside wall at Turn 2 after making minor contact with the No. 29 Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport Honda of Devlin DeFrancesco. McLaughlin headed the full-field line down pit road for service on Lap 104 and was the first car off pit road with Newgarden, Power, Dixon and Ericsson in tow.
Green-flag racing resumed on Lap 113 with Team Penske 1-2-3 (McLaughlin, Newgarden, Power) but the caution waved again just one lap later when Kyle Kirkwood made hard contact with the Turn 4 outside retaining wall.
After just one more lap of competition on Lap 128, a three-car incident in Turn 4 ended the day for Helio Castroneves (No. 06 Meyer Shank Racing Honda), Graham Rahal (No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda), and Devlin DeFrancesco (No. 29 Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport Honda).
Racing resumed on Lap 149 with McLaughlin out front before Newgarden moved out front for his only two other laps led and McLaughlin returning the favor for Lap 152. Rinus Veekay (No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet) make himself known for the first time of the day by leading the next 15 laps.
The final scheduled pit stops of the day began on lap 186 and the shuffling of the deck found Ericsson, Ed Carpenter (No. 33 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet), rookies David Malukas (No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Honda) and Callum Ilott (No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet) all out front before McLaughlin cycled back around on Lap 206.
With 20 laps remaining, the scoring pylon showed McLaughlin leading Newgarden by three-tenths of a second with Ericsson, Power, Pagenaud and Johnson rounding out the top six. The running order of the top four remained the same 10 laps later while Johnson had passed Pagenaud for fifth.
McLaughlin kept Newgarden at bay over the final 10 laps while getting cleanly through lapped traffic. But Newgarden committed to the top racing line going into Turn 3 which allowed him to get a run on McLaughlin off the final turn to inch ahead and take the win.
There were 15 lead changes among 12 drivers and four cautions for 52 laps.
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