Josef Newgarden led just three laps in Sunday’s NTT IndyCar Series XPEL 375 at Texas Motor Speedway while Team Penske colleague Scott McLaughlin was the star of the show, but only one of them donned the victory cowboy hat when it was all over. A daring last-corner pass by Newgarden on McLaughlin’s outside as they approached the finish clinched Newgarden’s second victory at Texas.
The win was a strong rebound for Newgarden, who finished an abysmal sixteenth in the St. Petersburg season opener after his pit strategy blew up in his face while McLaughlin stormed off to victory. The 2019 Texas winner and 2020 pole sitter started Sunday’s race in seventh while Felix Rosenqvist began the day in first.
However, despite running in the top five to start, Rosenqvist’s second career pole failed to result in success as McLaughlin dominated the early stages while the Swede retired after 158 laps with a mechanical issue. It was a difficult Sunday for Arrow McLaren SP as Rosenqvist’s partner Pato O’Ward fell off the pace following the first pit cycle before finishing fifteenth; McLaren’s Formula One arm also struggled in Bahrain as both of its drivers had an especially poor non-points showing.
Misfortunes also plagued Andretti Autosport almost as soon as the race began. Alexander Rossi was black-flagged for jumping the start before suffering an electrical failure and finishing last for his third consecutive retirement at Texas. Mechanical gremlins also claimed Romain Grosjean while Devlin DeFrancesco was knocked out on lap 129 after making an aggressive move on Hélio Castroneves and Graham Rahal that also eliminated them; DeFrancesco was also responsible for an overtake attempt on Takuma Sato that sent the Japanese driver into the wall. By the end of the day, nine drivers had retired, the most at Texas since thirteen failed to finish in 2017.
At the front, McLaughlin continued to put on a show as he led 186 of 248 laps. Newgarden found himself overwhelmed by the leaders but remained in contention as lapped traffic helped keep the margin close. Newgarden eventually caught McLaughlin before making his move on the final lap, finding a run on the outside line as they went through turns three and four which enabled Newgarden to pull ahead and win by .067 seconds.
“I was loose. I was driving the thing sideways off (turns) three and four,” said Newgarden. “I was trying to get a win. I’m just so pleased for everybody. Last lap, last corner, that’s what it’s all about at Texas.”
Regardless of whether Newgarden or McLaughlin won, the victory marked Team Penske‘s 600th as an organisation spanning all series. Will Power was one position shy of securing a Penske podium lockout as Marcus Ericsson finished third.
“Second is a great day, but unfortunately, we made a little lapse and at the end of the day, lost,” McLaughlin stated. “If you’re going to lose to anyone, your team-mate is the guy you want to lose it to.”
Finishing sixth was Jimmie Johnson, who scored his best career IndyCar result by a wide margin in his first series start on an oval; his previous best was seventeenth as a road course-only rookie in 2021. Johnson is the all-time NASCAR Cup Series race win leader with seven, and while stock cars are a different breed from open-wheel, many fans expected his performance ovals to be substantially stronger considering his NASCAR résumé on such layouts.
“I hoped to qualify in the top ten and race in the top 10,” commented Johnson. “Missed the qualifying mark a bit, but once we hit the halfway point of the race, I really could sense and feel the car. It became second nature, and off I went. We knew going oval racing would help, and today got us into the competitive mix.”
|1||7||2||Josef Newgarden||USA||Team Penske||248|
|2||2||3||Scott McLaughlin||NZL||Team Penske||248|
|3||14||8||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Chip Ganassi Racing||248|
|4||4||12||Will Power||AUS||Team penske||248|
|5||5||9||Scott Dixon||NZL||Chip Ganassi Racing||248|
|6||18||48||Jimmie Johnson||USA||Chip Ganassi Racing||248|
|7||11||10||Álex Palou||ESP||Chip Ganassi Racing||248|
|8||15||60||Simon Pagenaud||FRA||Meyer Shank Racing||248|
|9||27||45||Santino Ferrucci||USA||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||248|
|10||8||21||Rinus VeeKay||NED||Ed Carpenter Racing||248|
|11||19||18||David Malukas||USA||Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports||248|
|12||9||26||Colton Herta||USA||Andretti Autosport||247|
|13||21||33||Ed Carpenter||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||247|
|14||25||11||J.R.Hildebrand||USA||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||247|
|15||10||5||Pato O’Ward||MEX||Arrow McLaren SP||247|
|16||20||77||Callum Ilott||GBR||Juncos Hollinger Racing||247|
|17||22||4||Dalton Kellett||CAN||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||246|
|18||16||20||Conor Daly||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||245|
|19||24||30||Christian Lundgaard||DEN||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||233|
|20||3||51||Takuma Sato||JPN||Dale Coyne Racing with Rick Ware Racing||140|
|21||1||7||Felix Rosenqvist||SWE||Arrow McLaren SP||138|
|22||26||15||Graham Rahal||USA||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||128|
|23||6||06||Hélio Castroneves||BRA||Meyer Shank Racing||128|
|24||17||29||Devlin DeFrancesco||USA||Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport||128|
|25||23||14||Kyle Kirkwood||USA||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||113|
|26||13||28||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Andretti Autosport||103|
|27||12||27||Alexander Rossi||USA||Andretti Autosport||11|