Newgarden Caps Dominant Weekend With Road America Victory

Josef Newgarden speeds around Road America
Josef Newgarden added a win at Road America to his triumphs in Phoenix and Alabama in 2018 by winning the KOHLER Grand Prix. | Photo: Aaron Durant / The Apex

Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden completed a nearly perfect weekend at Road America with the fastest time in two practice sessions plus the pole position and race victory after leading 53 of 55 laps.

At the drop of the green flag, Newgarden took off from pole alongside teammate Will Power but an early mechanical issue for the No. 12 Chevrolet dropped Power out of contention and, after completing just two laps, out of the race.

Without Power to act as a buffer between the leader and the charging Honda-powered cars behind him, Newgarden was chased on nearly every lap by Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay. The DHL-backed driver easily kept pace with the leader throughout the race and ended the 55th and final lap 3.4 seconds behind Newgarden.

Newgarden’s win in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin marked his third victory of 2018 and the 10th of his career. After struggling since winning at Barber Motorsports Park in April despite his pole at Texas Motor Speedway, the effort puts Newgarden back into the championship picture. He leaves Road America trailing points leader Scott Dixon by 50 points.

Hunter-Reay’s strong second stands as his fourth podium finish this season and placed him second in the points standings following the first race of the second half of the season.

Dixon, who led two of the race’s 55 laps during pit stops, padded his points lead with a third-place finish — his fifth podium and seventh top-five finish of the season. The four-time champion will head to the next round at Iowa Speedway with 393 points.

Takuma Sato, who tangled with Alexander Rossi during the race, finished in the fourth position, 9.4 seconds behind Dixon and nine seconds ahead of Robert Wickens who rounded out the top five.

Graham Rahal, Simon Pagenaud, Spencer Pigot, Ed Jones and James Hinchcliffe completed the top 10, giving Honda a 7-3 advantage over Chevrolet in the group.

Tony Kanaan races ABC Supply Indy car at Road America
With a 14th-place finish, Tony Kanaan was the most successful driver to attack the 2018 KOHLER Grand Prix with a four-stop strategy. | Photo: Aaron Durant / The Apex

An early issue for for the No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda dropped Sebastien Bourdais back from his start from the outside of Row 3.

Rossi, who ran a strong third behind teammate Hunter-Reay during much of the race, pitted with an issue on the left front of his No. 27 Honda. The unscheduled stop dropped him to a finish of 16th and to a tie with Hunter-Reay in the points.

Alfonso Celis Jr. placed 20th in his IndyCar debut, ahead of Zachary Claman De Melo in 21st.

Zach Veach, who started 11th, pitted on Lap 18 with a damaged toe link and was subsequently issued a drive-through penalty for improper pit exit, leading to a 22nd-place finish.

Power was scored in the last position after his retirement, dropping him to fifth in the championship standings with 328 points, 15 shy of Newgarden’s 343.

The series will return to oval racing July 8 in Newton, Iowa with the Iowa Corn 300.

What do you think?