NEWTON, Iowa (Sunday, July 10, 2016) – Josef Newgarden put on one of the most dominant clinics in Indy car history, leading a record 282 laps today to win the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway.
The victory was the third of Newgarden’s six-year Verizon IndyCar Series career and first on an oval track. It also vaulted the Ed Carpenter Racing driver three spots into second place in the point standings after 10 of 16 completed races.
CLICK HERE: Iowa Corn 300 box score
Starting the 300-lap race second in the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka/ECR Chevrolet, Newgarden bolted past pole sitter Simon Pagenaud on the opening lap and never looked back. The only time the 25-year-old surrendered the lead came when he made pit stops for fuel and tires. His 282 laps led are the most ever by a driver in an Indy car race, surpassing the 250 by Ryan Hunter-Reay when he led every lap to win at Milwaukee in 2004.
“It was a lot of fun, mainly because the car was so good,” said Newgarden, who finished second to Hunter-Reay in each of the past two Iowa races. “It would go anywhere, it wasn’t really falling off much. It was fun. In some stints it seemed like a video game. You put on new tires, you catch people at the right point and you could just slice and dice.”
Newgarden sustained a fractured right clavicle and fractured bone in his right hand in a crash during the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway that was suspended by rain June 12 after 71 laps. Still recovering, Newgarden finished eighth at Road America two weeks ago before driving to victory lane today. He trails Team Penske’s Pagenaud – who finished the race in fourth – by 73 points in the championship.
JR Hildebrand substituted in the No. 21 car at the Iowa Speedway test on June 29. Newgarden admitted being nervous over how physically demanding the short oval is, but surprised himself with how he handled it.
“If you have as good of a car as I had today, it makes your race so much easier to drive,” Newgarden said. “I don’t think people should feel like I did some crazy feat. The hand is still a little broken. I was able to use it; it wasn’t too painful. The clavicle feels good with the plate in, was stable. It was a little more uncomfortable than normal around here, but it was doable.”
The victory was also the seventh in the history of Ed Carpenter Racing since its formation in 2012.
“It was a great day for the team,” said team owner/driver Ed Carpenter, who finished 18th in the team’s other car. “We tested here last week, we knew we had really strong race cars. Josef drove excellent, especially with the conditions of his hand hurting.”
Will Power finished in second place, 4.2828 seconds behind Newgarden. Driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Power passed Pagenaud and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon in the final seven laps to collect his third podium finish in as many races – on the heels of his back-to-back wins at Detroit’s Belle Isle-2 and Road America.
“It was good,” said Power, the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion who sits third in this year’s championship, 75 points behind Pagenaud. “It took us all day to get to the front, basically. We kind of went really long on the first stint, lost quite a lot of positions there, then slowly made our way back.
“We needed long stints to get back to the front because our car was really good over a long distance. I’m not sure we would have had anything for Newgarden. He was on his own on another planet. Really happy with second, though. Really, really happy.”
Dixon finished third in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet for his 88th career podium finish – moving the four-time series champion into a tie for sixth on the all-time podiums list with Helio Castroneves, Bobby Rahal and Al Unser Jr.
“We spent much of the race just trying to dial the car in, at least the balance, and we had way too much understeer early on,” Dixon said. “It was nice to start the race, was pretty consistent, but fell off a lot towards the end.
“I don’t think anybody really had anything for Josef today. Huge credit to that team. For me, it’s nice to have an Iowa race go somewhat smooth.”
The race on the high-banked 0.894-mile short oval – the 10th Verizon IndyCar Series event at Iowa Speedway – was slowed three times by full-course cautions. Hunter-Reay saw his chances for a third consecutive Iowa win and fourth in five years end when he stopped on Lap 109 with smoke trailing from his No. 28 DHL Honda. Juan Pablo Montoya had a similar ending in the No. 2 DeVilbiss Team Penske Chevrolet on Lap 179. Rookie Max Chilton brought out the final caution on Lap 246 when he spun exiting Turn 2 in the No. 8 Gallagher Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.
Castroneves finished 13th in his 321st career Indy car start, moving the Team Penske driver ahead of Al Unser into fourth on the all-time list. Tony Kanaan, who finished seventh, joined Unser in a tie for fifth with 320 career starts.
The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action July 15-17 for the Honda Indy Toronto on the streets of Toronto’s Exhibition Place. Verizon P1 Award qualifying airs live at 1:30 p.m. ET July 16 on NBCSN. The 85-lap race on the 1.755-mile street circuit airs live at 3 p.m. July 17 on CNBC with a re-air at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN.