At Lap 100 of 300, Josef Newgarden had lapped up to second place with two-thirds of the race remaining.
Fortunately for the competition, the first caution of Sunday’s Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway flew just a few laps later, putting more cars back up on the lead lap, but nobody had anything for Newgarden.
The last time the 25-year-old driver of the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet was on an oval course, he was being dragged upside down against the asphalt of Texas Motor Speedway after a scary crash with Conor Daly. But on Sunday, Newgarden raced through his injuries in Newton, Iowa, to his first race win since Toronto last year. It was his first win on an oval course.
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Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud started on the pole position, but Newgarden pulled around him on the outside of Turns 1 and 2 to take the lead before the end of the first lap.
The only thing that could slow him from then on was the caution flag, which flew just three times. The first two were for engine blowups for Ryan Hunter-Reay and Juan Pablo Montoya, while the last one came out when Max Chilton spun on the back straight.
Some drivers such as Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves, who had been running up front, were hurt by the caution flags, having pit under the green shortly before a yellow was thrown.
Scott Dixon made a late charge in the final quarter of the race, but didn’t have enough for Newgarden. In fact, Dixon and Newgarden both found themselves pushed back by Will Power in the closing laps, who finished second ahead of Dixon. Five cars finished on the lead lap.
After getting out of his car, Newgarden sung the praises of his team and machine, admitting that "my right hand was killing me," but emphasizing that it didn’t matter when he’d had a car as good as the one under him. Newgarden led 282 of the 300 laps, breaking the record for most laps ever led in an IndyCar race. The win moved him up from 5th to 2nd in the points.
The Verizon IndyCar Series will be back in action next weekend at Toronto.