Josef Newgarden completes an IndyCar Series weekend sweep at Iowa Speedway

Updated Jul. 23, 2023 5:47 p.m. ET

NEWTON, Iowa (AP) — Josef Newgarden got one win on Saturday, but he said it felt like “50 percent of the battle.”

Newgarden completed the doubleheader sweep he wanted at a track where he's had plenty of success, winning the IndyCar Series race Sunday at Iowa Speedway.

Newgarden, who led 212 of 250 laps, held onto the lead on a restart with three laps to go, beating Team Penske teammate Will Power by less than a second and slightly closing the gap behind series points leader Alex Palou with five races to go.

“Today, I feel like we're done now,” Newgarden said. “It's finished.”

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It was the sixth victory of Newgarden’s career at the 0.875-mile oval and came a day after he led for 129 laps in the first race of the series' lone doubleheader of the season. Newgarden needed a little extra work in this race after starting seventh — he started third on Saturday — but he was able to move into the lead by Lap 31 and maintained control the rest of the way.

“I felt like today was going to have a different twist, and it did,” Newgarden said.

Newgarden said he spent four hours studying video on Saturday night, looking for something that he could use in this race.

Newgarden left the weekend second in the series standings, 80 points behind Palou, who finished third. Palou came into the weekend with a 117-point lead over Scott Dixon, with Newgarden 126 points back in third place.

“I'll take it,” Newgarden said. “It's a positive result to the weekend.”

Palou said he was dreading the doubleheader long before he came to Iowa, but was happy leaving with one podium finish.

“We knew it would be a tough weekend,” said Palou, who finished eighth on Saturday. “Today we had no pace. I was struggling to keep the tires under the deck. The team got me back into it.”

Newgarden continued his dominance on ovals this season. He won at Texas Motor Speedway on April 2, then won the Indianapolis 500. It was his fifth consecutive win on ovals dating back to last season, tying him with A.J. Foyt and Al Unser Sr. for the longest oval win streak in IndyCar.

“It's hard to complain about our cars on ovals,” Newgarden said. “They're very, very good.”

Power acknowledged frustration at his teammate's dominance on ovals.

“Just ovals in general, he's won every single oval when he's finished, for a long time," Power said.

Power, on the pole for both weekend races, led the first 30 laps before Newgarden used a lower line to pass Power and fellow Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin as they encountered slower traffic.

Newgarden was among several drivers involved in one of the tense moments of the race, when Sting Ray Robb lost the left wheel of his car on Lap 158, seconds after Robb left pit road.

The wheel rolled into oncoming traffic between Turns 3 and 4, with Newgarden, Conor Daly and Graham Rahal among others having to swerve to avoid it. Robb was disqualified for not having the wheel tightened before leaving pit road.

Felix Rosenqvist, who started 16th, finished fourth. McLaughlin was fifth, the last driver on the lead lap.

RESTART DECISION

The final restart came after a caution flag that waved with 10 laps left after Ryan Hunter-Reay brushed the wall in the fourth turn.

Because there wasn't enough time left for a green-flag finish after pit stops and realigning the field, IndyCar did not open the pits, setting up the three-lap sprint.

“I just don't think they have enough time with this length of track,” Newgarden said. “The only way they can approach this is get the lapped cars out of the way on the restart, and not let anyone pit. It's the fairest way to do it. I didn't love it, I would have preferred to keep the lapped cars in between. But looking at it as a competitor, it's the fairest way to approach it.”

Palou said he understood the decision.

“Ten laps is nothing on this track,” he said. “They made the right call.”

A SECOND HOME

Newgarden, who grew up in Tennessee, quipped after the race that he was “going to buy a cornfield” in Iowa.

“I'm here to invest,” he said. “I'm going to start producing for the country, doing my part. It seems like the right thing to do at this point, after all the years I spent here. I really like Iowa, it's a great little place. It's not very busy here.”

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AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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