BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — official series release — Chris Jones/IndyCar photo —
Josef Newgarden wasn’t nervous with three-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon and a hard-charging Graham Rahal within striking distance in the closing laps of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.
The 24-year-old Tennessee native held off both competitors and pulled away for his first Verizon IndyCar Series victory in his 55th start.
Newgarden, driving the No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet, is the fourth different winner in as many races this season. This was the first victory since the merger of Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and the team’s sixth win overall.
“This is the way I wanted to do it. I didn’t want to win on some crazy incident, or on luck,” Newgarden said. “This team deserves it. They gave me an incredible car and let me get out there and rip with the thing and pass people on pure merit. And that’s due to CFH Racing – they were just incredible today. We’re going up against the giants, but I think this team can be a giant one day.”
Rahal, who charged from fifth in the final 10 laps on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park road course, overtook Dixon on the final lap to claim his first podium finish since Belle Isle 1 last May. Rahal, driving the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda, finished 2.2061 seconds behind Newgarden.
“The Honda did a great job for me today,” Rahal said. “I passed a lot of guys and I hope everyone enjoyed the race because we were pushing to the last seconds. A few more laps and I think we would have had (Newgarden).”
Dixon, who won a week earlier on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., finished third in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. He has finished on the podium in all six races at Barber Motorsports Park (four second-place finishes and third in each of the past two seasons).
Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power, who won at Barber in 2011 and 2012, placed fourth in the No. 1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won the past two races at Barber, finished fifth in the No. 28 DHL Andretti Autosport Honda.
Helio Castroneves was running fourth in the final laps but had to pit with one lap remaining for a splash of fuel. The unplanned stop dropped the three-time Indianapolis 500 winner to 15th place in the waning laps – one position behind Team Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who maintained the series championship lead by three points over Castroneves heading to the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 9.
Newgarden, who started a season-high fifth, had a previous best finish of second (Baltimore 2013 and Iowa 2014). He placed eighth after starting fourth at Barber Motorsports Park last year. He led a field-high 46 laps — more than double his previous career total.
CREDIT: IndyCar Communications