Josef Newgarden made it three in a row for Chevrolet in Sunday’s Grand Prix of Long Beach, with the Team Penske driver holding off a hard-charging Romain Grojean in the closing laps to take his first career victory on the storied 1.9-mile street circuit.
The 31-year old Team Penske driver took the lead for the final time on Lap 55 of 85 after race leader Alex Palou dove into the pits for fuel and a set of primary Firestone tires. Newgarden followed suit two laps later and emerged from the pits neck-and-neck with his Honda-powered rival, with the pair going side-by-side through the first sector before making slight contact in Turn 5.
Newgarden emerged as the leader from the dogfight, but the time the pair lost fighting with each other allowed Grosjean, who was an alternate strategy, to close in. The Frenchman had pulled his Andretti Autosport-Honda into the pits on Lap 56 for the red sidewall alternate tire and soon after closed up to the back of Palou and Newgarden. He passed the Spaniard for the lead on Lap 70 and began pressuring Newgarden before a caution came out on Lap 76 for the stricken cars of Jimmie Johnson and David Malukas, which were nosed into the tire barrier at Turn 7.
Grosjean once again put the pressure on Newgarden when the green came back out on Lap 79, making good use of his now worn alternate Firestone tires, but couldn’t close the gap enough to make a move. Takuma Sato then crashed his Dale Coyne Racing-Honda into the Turn 8 tire barriers on Lap 84, ending the race under yellow and giving Newgarden his second straight NTT IndyCar Series victory. The result was also the third straight win for Team Penske this season and the third straight win for Chevrolet.
“This was not an easy race to win,” Newgarden said after climbing out of his No. 2 Chevy. “I was working my butt off with Grosjean at the end there on the used reds (Firestone alternate tires). This Hitachi car was on it. I’ve been trying to win a race here for 11 years, so I’m so happy to get it done.”
While Chevy emerged the victor in Long Beach, Honda’s Colton Herta was the class of the field all weekend long. The Andretti Autosport driver took pole position by over four-tenths on Saturday and led 28 laps on Sunday before crashing out on his own in Turn 9 while running third. Herta was classified 24th overall in the race standings.
Check out the video embedded below for complete highlights from the 2022 IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach.