MADISON, Ill. — A breathtaking pass of his Penske teammate Simon Pagenaud allowed Josef Newgarden to take both the win and command of the Verizon IndyCar Series title tile at Gateway Motorsports Park Saturday night.
The 26-year-old Tennessee native stunned a near sell-out crowd with 31 laps to go, when he dove to the inside of his Pagenaud entering Turn 1, making contact with the Frenchman as he moved him out of the way and seized the lead.
From there, it was lights out for the rest of the field, as Newgarden drove away by just under three-quarters of a second to take his seventh career Indy car win and fourth of the season.
Newgarden has now won more times this season with Team Penske than he had in all of his other seasons in Indy car racing, combined.
“Man, this was a great night,” Newgarden said. “We had four good cars at Team Penske. I’m happy to get the win on the No. 2 car’s side because I felt like we had the car to beat. I didn’t want us to be denied tonight for sure.”
Newgarden led a combined 170 of the race’s 248 laps, backing that statement up, but it was his gutsy pass on his teammate that had everyone talking in the end.
“Simon (Pagenaud) gave me a lane to work with. I had a good tow on him, put my car inside in the opening, got about halfway alongside of him,” Newgarden explained. “One thing I didn’t want to do was touch him too hard. I think if I would have stayed too far left, I would have jumped the curb and that would have taken both of us out.”
“I tried to get Simon to move over a little when we were coming to the opening of the corner. We both had to slow up. Fortunately it worked out well for us.”
Pagenaud fell to third after Newgarden’s move, with Scott Dixon capitalizing on his loss of momentum and taking away second place in the end.
The Frenchman was extremely critical of his teammate after the race.
“It’s a real shame,” Pagenaud lamented. “The move? I don’t know what to say. I don’t have anything nice to say, so I’m not going to say it. But fantastic job for the No. 1 team, Menard’s and Chevy, for such a dominant performance.”
“It’s a shame we let the (No.) 9 car [Dixon] get some points on us … but it was a dominant performance. Unfortunate you have to get on like that with your teammate at the end. It was way too close to be quoted a fair pass. As I said … I have nothing nice to say. It was more of a NASCAR move.”
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