Josef Newgarden Wins Rain Delayed Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama

LEEDS, Ala – We always knew that whenever Josef Newgarden got a chance to drive for one of the big teams in the Verizon IndyCar Series, that he’d be the next great star. Nothing against Sarah Fisher or Ed Carpenter or their respective teams, but you can’t compare their resources to that of Team Penske or Chip Ganassi Racing. Well, Newgarden signed with Penske in the offseason between 2016 and 2017 and that proved to be one that could shape the future of this series moving forward.

Newgarden, piloted his No. 1 Chevrolet to victory in Monday’s rain delayed Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. It was Newgarden’s ninth career INDYCAR victory, six of which since joining Penske for last season and beyond. The Tennessee native drove beyond his years in a wild race this weekend, as he mastered the Barber Motorsports Park in the wet, dry and wet conditions again. 

Josef Newgarden races in the rain on Sunday at the Barber Motorsports Park – INDYCAR Media Site

Newgarden, led the first 22 laps on Sunday, before the race was red flagged for the second and final time. The first red flag was displayed when we were under the second caution of the day for Will Power crashing while running second on the Lap 16 restart. The cars would be brought down pit road on Lap 18 for a 37-minute stoppage period. When we’d go back to yellow flag conditions, they only ran two laps before saying enough was enough.

They’d come back on Monday, where Newgarden dominated. He led the first 48 laps in all, before coming to pit lane on the 2.3-mile track for the first time on Lap 48. He’d get the lead back on Lap 54 and would lead all the way until his final stop on Lap 71. But, Tim Cindric, his race strategist, made a gutsy call to put on rain tires. See, it started raining harder again, but not quite hard enough at the time to affect the race. Cindric, knew the worst of the precipitation had yet to come and despite being at an uncharacteristic unfair advantage while leading, they chose to go on the wets. The move paid off.

Newgarden, cruised to his third win at Barber in the last four years, including back-to-back as he beat second place by 9.961-seconds. That was way less than it should have been, but Newgarden took it easy on the closing laps of the timed race. His lead was over 20-seconds for most of the race.

“That was more eventful than I would have liked,” said Newgarden. “But everybody did a great job. How about Team Chevy today – they gave us a great engine, good fuel mileage and good reliability, and that’s what we needed to win this race. It’s great having Hitachi – we got Verizon a victory, now we got Hitachi a victory, so thank you guys. Everyone at Team Penske did a great job, but like I said, that was more eventful than I wanted it. It would seem like smooth sailing for the most part, we didn’t have any yellows, which we were hoping no yellows today, but then the rain crept in. I couldn’t believe how long everyone stayed out. It was really risky what they were doing, but I understand why there were doing it. I’m glad we made the call to come in so soon.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay would bring his No. 28 Honda home second for his third top five finish in four races this year. It was his 39th career podium in the series and 55th top five.

James Hinchcliffe came home third in his No. 5 Honda for his fourth top 10 to start the year off and 15th career INDYCAR podium. His rookie Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammate Robert Wickens finished sixth in his No. 6 Honda while Sebastien Bourdais finished fifth in his No.18 Honda.

Bourdais, was the only real challenger to Newgarden, as he tried to go with a one stop strategy. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the fuel mileage that he needed to do so, as he had to pit with six laps left for wet tires.

The series now has two weeks off before the Month of May starts up at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Results

  1. 1 Newgarden
  2. 28 Hunter-Reay
  3.  5 Hinchcliffe
  4.  6 Wickens R
  5. 18 Bourdais
  6.  9 Dixon
  7. 15 Rahal
  8. 30 Sato
  9. 22 Pagenaud
  10. 98 Andretti
  11. 27 Rossi
  12. 4 Leist R
  13. 26 Veach R
  14. 20 King R
  15. 21 Pigot -1
  16. 32 Binder R -2
  17. 88 Chaves -2
  18. 14 Kanaan -2
  19. 19 Claman DemElo R -2
  20. 10 Jones OUT
  21. 12 Power OUT
  22. 59 Chilton OUT
  23. 23 Kimball OUT

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