By David Morgan, Associate Editor
NEWTON, Iowa – Break out the brooms.
For the second day in a row, Team Penske pilot Josef Newgarden dominated at Iowa Speedway to make a clean sweep of the HyVee INDYCAR Weekend and score his sixth career win at the 0.894-mile oval.
After banking a win on Saturday, Newgarden picked right up where he left off on Sunday, powering his way forward from a seventh-place start to take over the lead with a bold two-for-one pass on teammates Will Power and Scott McLaughlin on Lap 31 and never looked back.
Newgarden would lead 212 of the final 220 laps, beating Power back to the line by 0.750 seconds for his fourth win of the season and fifth straight win on an oval.
“It’s very gratifying because I know how good our car is here,” Newgarden said. “When you show up with a car like this, you’ve got the pressure to just execute and get the job done. If you don’t get the job done, you feel like you did something wrong.
“I certainly felt that after qualifying, but to be able to fix that and win a couple of races. It’s not so much last year I’m thinking about, it’s purely this year I wanted to make sure we could execute.”
Current points leader Alex Palou rebounded to third-place to lessen the potential damage to his points lead, followed by Felix Rosenqvist and McLaughin rounding out the top-five.
Scott Dixon finished as the first car a lap down in sixth, along with the remaining top-10 finishers Colton Herta, David Malukas, Marcus Ericsson, and Pato O’Ward.
While Newgarden may have dominated, it wasn’t an easy Sunday drive for the driver of the No. 2 Chevrolet as he had a few near-misses during the event.
The first came when the left-rear wheel came off Sting Ray Robb’s Honda on Lap 157, forcing evasive action from a number of drivers, including Newgarden to avoid the wayward wheel.
The second came when the No. 6 Arrow McLaren team played a bit of strategy for Felix Rosenqvist, bringing him to pit road a lap earlier than Newgarden for the final round of pit stops. The move allowed Rosenqvist to cycle out right behind Newgarden and gave him a run for his money for a number of laps, but Newgarden was able to hold him off and keep his advantage.
Then when the final caution flew with 10 laps to go, it seemed the remaining drivers on the lead lap would have one more shot at taking down Newgarden, but with everyone at the end of the lifespan on their tires, it would be a struggle.
Though a few of the positions behind Newgarden changed, no one could touch the leader as he walked away with the victory.
Five races now remain in the 2023 NTT IndyCar Series season with Palou carrying an 80-point lead into the next race at Nashville on August 6.
Though Newgarden was able to take a chunk out of Palou’s lead with his Iowa wins, there is still more work to do to close that gap even further over the season’s final stint.
“I hope we can close that [gap],” Newgarden said. “We’ve got to win more races on the 2 car to be able to do it, but there’s no doubt he’s been one of the best competitors to drive against.
“I’m excited for the rest of the season. Who knows what will happen? This is INDYCAR. Things change really quickly, so let’s stick with it and see how it shapes up.”