Newgarden explains St Petersburg fire

Josef Newgarden IndyCar St Petersburg

Josef Newgarden

Josef Newgarden has shed light on why his car caught fire in the closing stages of the IndyCar Grand Prix of St Petersburg.

The Team Penske driver was on the back foot after qualifying just 14th for Race 1 of the season, but still looked like salvaging a top 10 even after he ran wide at the final restart.

He was running ninth when a fire broke out around the left-rear corner of the #2 Chevrolet on Lap 95 of 100, and that would be the end of his day.

“Pretty tough day,” said the two-time champion.

“Just terrible ending. We had something mechanically break unfortunately on the engine side. Had a small fire.

“Tried to come to pit lane and shut it off, get it back to pit lane and get the fire out.

“It’s unfortunate because I think we were on for a top-five.

“I made a mistake on the last restart unfortunately with about 25 to go. We were restarting fifth and I went back to either eighth or ninth. I just got wide.

“I think for sure a top 10 [was possible]. We were capable of producing a good day which would have been a good start. Unfortunately, we just had to stop early.”

Nevertheless, Newgarden also had positives to take out of his first event with new a race engineer, namely Australian Luke Mason.

“A real good job to the team,” added the Tennessean.

“We had a really solid race. Everything was executed just beautifully as always.

“The Hitachi car felt racy. We made some moves there in the middle.

“I was proud of everybody. It was a good first race to work together; a lot of new people on the crew. Everyone performed incredibly; really good stops.

“So, I feel really encouraged for the next round. We’ll just get back on it and get this thing tuned up and keep going.”

Newgarden was classified 17th on the day but leaves the opening event in 18th in the series standings, given Romain Grosjean scored bonus points for pole position and leading the race.

Event 2 takes place at Texas Motor Speedway on April 1-2 (local time), and can be seen live and ad-free on Stan Sport.

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