NEWTON, Iowa – Josef Newgarden extended Team Penske’s dominance at Iowa Speedway, victory in the first race of the weekend duel Saturday for his fourth victory at the shortest track on the IndyCar schedule.
Newgarden cruised to his season-best fourth win to move from fourth to second in a tight race for the IndyCar championship. Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson finished eighth, cutting his lead in the standings to 15 points over Newgarden.
Newgarden was 44 points off the championship lead heading into the race at the .894-mile oval and can make up an even bigger lead when IndyCar completes its Sunday doubleheader.
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Team Penske drivers have won six of the last seven Iowa races, bringing in local grocer Hy-Vee as the title sponsor of the double entertainment extravaganza, which includes a pair of races and musical performances by Tim McGraw, Florida Georgia Line, Gwen Stefani and Blake. Shelton.
Pato O’Ward finished second in the Arrow McLaren SP, followed by pole-sitter Will Power of Penske and Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing as Chevrolet rounded out the top four. Earlier on Saturday, Power won the pole position for both races, moving one away from Mario Andretti’s record of 67.
Scott Dixon, who last week tied Andretti for second on the IndyCar wins list with 52, finished fifth for Chip Ganassi Racing. Dixon was followed by six other Honda drivers, including Ganassi’s teammate Alex Palou and Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean.
Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson overcame an early spin and weaved his way first into the lead and then into a consistent top-five spot. He made some gutsy passes in the high lane, including a three-wide pass to pick off two other drivers.
Earl Barban, Johnson’s longtime spotter, reported that the pass “is going to be a highlight reel,” and the Ganassi crew asked Johnson if he was enjoying the 250 laps around Iowa in 100-degree temperatures.
“Yeah, that’s a blast,” Johnson replied.
Unfortunately, he fell as low as 11th in the final sequence as only five drivers finished on the lead lap.
Newgarden, meanwhile, has led 1,358 of 2,250 laps in his last eight visits to Iowa. But despite his fourth win of the year, there are still five drivers in the championship battle, separated by 59 points with six races remaining.