Newgarden felt Road America IndyCar win was almost inevitable

Josef Newgarden

Road America IndyCar winner Josef Newgarden believes that it was almost inevitable he would overtake pole-sitter Alexander Rossi, despite that coming to pass due to a stroke of good fortune.

In an at times chaotic 55-lap encounter, the battle for victory was still essentially a two-horse race between the #2 Team Penske Chevrolet and the #27 Andretti Autosport Honda, notwithstanding that the latter ultimately finished third.

Rossi ran in first spot through three rapid-fire Caution periods at the beginning of the contest and still held sway when he and Newgarden pitted together at the end of Lap 15, when the only effective lead change occurred.

They had been followed into the lane by a team-mate each, namely Colton Herta and Scott McLaughlin, and the latter’s arrival in the #3 Penske box made it difficult for the man in Car #27 to get out of his.

That helped Newgarden get the jump, and it was him first and Rossi second, at least in effective terms, all the way until the latter was overtaken by Marcus Ericsson when the last Caution period ended with three laps to go.

However, the two-time champion felt that he was always a good chance of overhauling the 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner.

“It was going to be that point or another point,” declared Newgarden.

“Truthfully, I was hoping for an all green start – no Cautions – because I felt that’s where we could find the exposure in Rossi’s game.

“I was kind of biding my time but felt like I had the straight speed advantage with him. I felt like my Chevy was much quicker than him on the straights. I was going to wait for an opportunity.

“All the yellows really took away that potential. We were running most of the laps under Caution, so the reds [alternate tyres, which both started on] weren’t going to drop off as much.

“We needed to make the difference somewhere else. We came in right on his tail, I made sure… Look, I’m going to give my team ample opportunity, get as close as I can to Rossi on the pits.

“If it wasn’t going to happen on the pit stop, it was going to be an out lap or a back end of a stint.

“The pit stop is what ended up being the pivotal point for us, but if that wasn’t the point, I think we could have made that point somewhere else.”

Rossi had much the same take.

On the pit stop in question, he remarked, “There’s nothing you can do about it.

“That’s just an unfortunate sequence that happens. I think it certainly cost us the lead there.

“That being said, I do think Josef had a really strong car so I don’t know necessarily that we would have been able to beat him. Maybe, I don’t know.

“But it’s neither here nor there. That’s just part of the way it works.

“Ultimately, it’s good to avoid contact and lose a little bit of time.”

Newgarden is not only the sole multiple race winner so far in 2022, but also the first to take victory this year on an oval, a street circuit, and now a road course, meaning he scored USD 1 million to share with charities of his choosing.

The Tennessean is third in the series standings, 32 points behind leader Ericsson, while Rossi has risen to seventh.

Next up is Mid-Ohio, on July 1-3 (local time), with that race and all others live and ad-free on Stan Sport.

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