Josef Newgarden gave Team Penske and Chevrolet their first win of the 2019 IndyCar season in Sunday’s season opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
The young American driver started the race second behind polesitter and fellow Team Penske driver Will Power. Both Newgarden and Power diced at the front of the pack for the majority of the day, also trading places with Chip Ganassi Racing/Honda’s Scott Dixon and Felix Rosenqvist. Andretti Autosport/Honda’s Alex Rossi ran strong for the majority of the race as well and finished fifth, but seemed to never have the pace to truly challenge the Penske and Ganassi cars.
Newgarden’s push for the lead began mid-race, when he turned in a series of fast laps throughout a blistering stint to get the pitstop undercut on Rosenqvist and reigning series champion Dixon. He ended up crossing the finish line 2.8998 seconds in front of Dixon, who led Power and Rosenqvist across the finish line. The result gave Penske its 204th IndyCar win and also gave Chevrolet its first temporary street course victory in the series since 2017.
The Chevys performed strong all day, with Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud putting in a strong drive and slicing his way through the grid to finish seventh. Rookie Colton Herta also put in a notable performance to finish eighth in his Harding-Steinbrenner entry. Newcomers DragonSpeed, another Chevrolet team, put up a decent result for their first-ever race, finishing 18th and gaining some much-needed track time and experience on the streets of St. Pete.
A number of caution periods interrupted the race, including one for Ryan Hunter-Reay,
whose Andretti Autosport Honda broke down on the front straight, seemingly due to an expired turbocharger. Ed Carpenter Racing’s Ed Jones also brought out the yellow when he clipped the inside wall at Turn 9 and hit the outside barrier hard. Matheus Leist also hit Jones’ stranded car after coming around the blind Turn 9 quickly and clipped his rear end, breaking Leist’s suspension.
The 2019 NTT Data IndyCar Series will continue with the IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas. Click here for full results from St. Pete.