Newgarden beats McLaughlin with final-corner pass at Texas
Monday 21st March, 2022 - 6:01am
Josef Newgarden has beaten Penske team-mate Scott McLaughlin to victory with a final-corner pass at Texas Motor Speedway in Race 2 of the 2022 IndyCar Series.
McLaughlin led 186 laps, including the majority of the final stint, but got held up by lapped traffic on the last of 248 laps around the Forth Worth oval.
The New Zealander ended up missing out by just 0.0669s when Newgarden passed him around the outside as they ran to the chequered flag.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson finished third, and Will Power made it all three Team Penske Chevrolets in the top four, while Scott Dixon claimed fifth in another CGR Honda.
Next was none other than seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, who achieved a first top 10 of his IndyCar career in the #10 CGR entry.
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Despite the disappointment of falling short in Texas, McLaughlin continues to lead the series, by 28 points over Power.
When the field took the green flag for the first time, Felix Rosenqvist (McLaren SP) led from pole position, although he remained in front only until McLaughlin swept around him at the start of Lap 2.
They had put about a second on the field by the time a Caution was called on Lap 12 in response to Alexander Rossi slowing to a crawl with an electrical problem in the #27 Andretti Autosport Honda.
At that point, Takuma Sato (Dale Coyne Racing w/ RWR) sat third from Colton Herta (Andretti), Power, Helio Castroneves (Meyer Shank Racing), Dixon, Newgarden, Ericsson, Rinus VeeKay (Ed Carpenter Racing), and Alex Palou (CGR) in 11th.
The restart came on Lap 17 and Pato O’Ward (McLaren SP) jumped from 12th to eighth in a matter of laps, while rookie Kyle Kirkwood (AJ Foyt Racing) needed not much longer to charge from 23rd to ninth after pitting under the Caution.
The race then settled into a rhythm, Rosenqvist going with McLaughlin at the front but Sato dropping to about a second off the pace as the lap count ticked into the forties.
However, from there, #3 started to disappear, and was five seconds to the good when Sato overtook Rosenqvist for second position on Lap 56.
McLaughlin was among the first of the front-runners to pit when he peeled off on Lap 57, taking a big turn of front wing on Car #3, and Rosenqvist was in a lap later.
Sato pressed on until Lap 61, but he lost a chunk of time when team-mate David Malukas stalled exiting the #18 pit box, and got in the way of the Japanese driver as he was trying to get into his.
When the first pit stop cycle completed, albeit by way of two of the AJ Foyt cars taking service for a second time after being very early stoppers, McLaughlin was more than 10 seconds clear of the field.
Newgarden was next in the order, making it a Team Penske one-two, from McLaren SP duo O’Ward and Rosenqvist, Ericsson, Herta, Dixon, Power, VeeKay, Castroneves, and Palou in 11th, with Sato buried all the way back in 18th.
Second through fourth were running in close company, and Rosenqvist was back into the podium places when he overtook his team-mate on Lap 89.
Meanwhile, after being more than 12 seconds to the good, McLaughlin’s lead was only 6.4s at the completion of Lap 90 as he began to lap the tail of the field.
Sato was still stuck in the back half of the field when he triggered a Caution on Lap 99, after mid-corner contact with Devlin DeFrancesco (Andretti Autosport) saw Car #51 get high and glance the wall exiting Turn 2.
Everyone pitted once the lane opened, although Romain Grosjean’s hand was forced by an engine issue for the #28 Andretti Honda.
The net result was that Team Penske had tightened its grip on the race with McLaughlin, Newgarden, and Power respectively making for a one-two-three.
Dixon and Ericsson were next, ahead of VeeKay, Herta, Palou, Simon Pagenaud (MSR), and Castroneves, while Graham Rahal was a notable in 11th after qualifying slowest in the #15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan entry.
McLaren SP had a shocker in the pits, Rosenqvist dropping to 16th after an overshoot and a slow right-rear change, and O’Ward to 17th after knocking over a wheel man, then sent to the back as a penalty anyway.
The green flag flew again on Lap 114 but the leaders were just completing the restart lap when Kirkwood spun into the wall at the final corner after losing control on the high side of DeFrancesco.
Few pitted under the third Caution of the race, although O’Ward needed a front wing change which dropped #5 off the lead lap, while Rahal had already snuck into the top 10.
However, disaster struck for the latter almost as soon as the Lap 129 restart when DeFrancesco tried to squeeze past on the white line as they turned off the back straight.
They made contact, causing #15 to also hit Castroneves’ #60 machine, with all three crunching the wall and triggering the fourth Caution of the race.
The top nine was unchanged but the drama meant that Santino Ferrucci, who was drafted into the #45 RLLR car after Jack Harvey was not given medical clearance following his practice crash, was 10th and Johnson 11th.
DeFrancesco was deemed guilty of avoidable contact during the long clean-up, while Rosenqvist pitted from 12th and retired due to a suspected differential problem.
It was a highly energetic period which ensued when the fourth restart finally came on Lap 150, with 99 laps to go.
Newgarden rounded up McLaughlin for the lead at the start of Lap 151, but the New Zealander returned the favour two laps later, and he was followed past by a charging VeeKay and also Power.
VeeKay then got McLaughlin at on Lap 159, before Power pulled off a huge move on both the Dutchman and McLaughlin at Turn 1 on Lap 164, and Dixon capitalised down the back straight.
The net result of all of that was Power leading from VeeKay, Dixon, McLaughlin, Ericsson, and Newgarden in sixth, but with fuel-saving a consideration as everyone tried to set up for the final stint, the shuffling continued.
Dixon was passed by McLaughlin and Ericsson on Lap 177, and the latter continued to climb until he went underneath Power for the lead on Lap 184 at Turn 3.
McLaughlin also overtook Power for second spot just around the front stretch, before VeeKay was first of the aforementioned bunch to pit again on Lap 186, having dropped behind Pagenaud and into seventh.
McLaughlin was still second when he stopped on Lap 190, with Newgarden and Power in from third and fourth (effectively fourth and fifth) on Lap 192.
Dixon pitted on Lap 193 and Ericsson ceded the lead when he peeled off on Lap 194, rejoining behind VeeKay and McLaughlin, then passed by Newgarden as he came up to speed.
Behind Ericsson then, and thus effectively fifth, was Power, from Pagenaud, Johnson, Dixon, and Palou.
McLaughlin was back into the effective lead when he overtook VeeKay, who had a battle on his hands to save enough fuel to make the finish, as they ran around Turn 1 on Lap 205.
When Callum Ilott (Juncos Hollinger Racing) pitted on Lap 206, the cycle was done, and it was McLaughlin with a lead of a full second over Newgarden, then VeeKay, Ericsson, Power, Pagenaud, Johnson, Dixon, and Palou.
Ericsson went around the outside of VeeKay on Lap 208 at Turn 1, after which Car #21 continued its slide down the order.
Traffic was also having an influence again, allowing Newgarden to close the gap to McLaughlin, and they were just 0.3s apart with 10 laps to go.
Ericsson sat another three tenths back in third, Power was seven seconds off the pace in fourth, and Johnson had not long moved into the top five after a battle with Pagenaud.
Dixon was seventh, with the rest of the top 10 being Palou, VeeKay, and Ferrucci.
Ericsson began to drift, but Newgarden was sticking with McLaughlin as they threaded their way through the backmarkers.
It was a gap of 0.3149s with a lap to go, before McLaughlin came up on the back of Malukas, and he was unable to clear Car #18 down the back straight.
That was what Newgarden needed to get a run on his team-mate and send the #2 Chevrolet around the outside, to nab victory in the Lone Star State.
Ericsson finished 1.3537s back in third, with Power 15 seconds away from victory in fourth.
Dixon ultimately got up to fifth, from Johnson, Palou, Pagenaud, Ferrucci the substitute, and a fuel-light VeeKay.
Malukas finished 11th, ahead of Herta, Ed Carpenter (ECR), JR Hildebrand (Foyt), and O’Ward.
The next race is the Grand Prix of Long Beach, on the weekend of April 8-10 (local time), with live and ad-free coverage on Stan Sport.
CLICK HERE to watch Texas highlights
Results: Race, Texas Motor Speedway
|Pos||Num||Driver||C/E/T||Race time/Split||Pit stops||Status||Grid pos|
|12||26||Colton Herta||D/H/F||+1 lap||3||Running||9|
|13||33||Ed Carpenter||D/C/F||+1 lap||4||Running||21|
|14||11||JR Hildebrand||D/C/F||+1 lap||4||Running||25|
|15||5||Pato O’Ward||D/C/F||+1 lap||4||Running||10|
|16||77||Callum Ilott||D/C/F||+1 lap||6||Running||20|
|17||4||Dalton Kellett||D/C/F||+2 laps||7||Running||22|
|18||20||Conor Daly||D/C/F||+3 laps||7||Running||16|
|19||30||Christian Lundgaard||D/H/F||+15 laps||5||Contact||24|
|20||51||Takuma Sato||D/H/F||+108 laps||4||Contact||3|
|21||7||Felix Rosenqvist||D/C/F||+110 laps||2||Mechanical||1|
|22||15||Graham Rahal||D/H/F||+120 laps||3||Contact||26|
|23||06||Helio Castroneves||D/H/F||+120 laps||2||Contact||6|
|24||29||Devlin DeFrancesco||D/H/F||+120 laps||2||Contact||17|
|25||14||Kyle Kirkwood||D/C/F||+135 laps||3||Contact||23|
|26||28||Romain Grosjean||D/H/F||+145 laps||1||Mechanical||13|
|27||27||Alexander Rossi||D/H/F||+237 laps||0||Mechanical||12|
Race winner: 248 laps