(ST. PETERSBURG, FL) After capturing his first-ever IndyCar Series Championship in 2017, Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden didn’t have the follow-up result that was projected in 2018.
Although he won three individual races on the circuit, those were the only appearances he made on the podium within the seventeen-race docket. That combined with the hard-charging results by his competitors resulted in Tennessean’s fifth place finish in the points standings at season’s end.
New year. Fresh slate. Back to basics. Regain momentum.
Sunday afternoon, Newgarden found himself collecting checkered flags again by claiming the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first stop of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series.
Starting second in the 24-driver field, Newgarden staved off a late challenge from reigning champion Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) and claimed victory over the hard charging Kiwi by 2.8 seconds.
It was Newgarden’s eleventh career IndyCar win and his first since last June’s triumph at Road America.
“We started out on the right foot, for sure,” said Newgarden afterwards. “Street courses I think we feel better on. We’ve gotta convert that to road courses now. I really looking forward to the rest of the year.”
At the 1.8-mile temporary street course, the 110-lap event saw plenty of clean racing, some familiar names continuing trends from last season and a trio of rookies finish within the Top 10.
Pole sitter Will Power (Team Penske) paced the first dozen laps and was able to finish strong with his podium placement alongside his winning teammate.
Meanwhile, rookie Felix Rosenqvist’s first venture into the series yielded high returns as the Swede from Chip Ganassi Racing finished fourth in a crowded pack. He, alongside Colton Herta (Harding Steinbrenner Racing) and Santino Ferrucci (Dale Coyne Racing), marked the trio of newcomers that finished with Top 10 status.
Sunday’s race ran a little over two hours in length, raced at an average speed of 95.6 MPH, had eight lead changes overall and eleven caution laps.
Newgarden currently sports a 13-point lead in the standings over Dixon heading into the newly-minted IndyCar Classic at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, on Sunday, March 24.
The series makes a stop at Gateway Motorsports Park for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 on Saturday, August 24.
Arch City Media will be continuously following the entire NTT IndyCar Series as the season progresses.