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Pato O’Ward Snatches Iowa Win After Newgarden Misfortune

Josef Newgarden’s DNF opened up the door for Pato O’Ward to pounce and win. (Photo: Chris Owens | Penske Entertainment)

Pato O’Ward capitalized on a stunning race-ending crash by the most dominant driver of the weekend, Josef Newgarden, to take a surprise win in the Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 presented by Google to close the doubleheader at Iowa Speedway.

The Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet driver picks up his second NTT IndyCar Series victory of the year and fourth of his career.

“We knew that we had a great car,” O’Ward said. “So, it was all about just capitalizing and being there when it counted. The guys did a great job calling when we had to pit. It was very, very enjoyable.

“Hopefully, we can win a couple more. That would be fantastic. We’ve had a good year, but we’ve dumped two wins in the past couple of months. So, it’s definitely been a frustrating but rewarding few weeks. This is the perfect momentum we need.”

During the final round of pit stops, the No. 5 pit crew showed up when it mattered the most by helping their driver win the race off pit road for the final time.

“The No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP guys in the pits were awesome,” O’Ward said. “That’s what gave us our win. Obviously, I did my job in the car to keep her safe and maintain.

“I knew we had the pace, but it’s just tough whenever you’re going through the traffic. The guys in front of me are handling it a different way than you do, so it’s just different every lap.”

Two podiums, including a race victory, proved to be a highly successful weekend for Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward. (Photo: Chris Owens | Penske Entertainment)

Up until Lap 235, Newgarden had dominated the entire Hy-Vee Iowa race weekend, leading a total of 148 laps on Sunday. In first Iowa race, Newgarden led 208 laps en route to victory.

When the number of laps led adds up, Newgarden was out front for 356 laps or 65% of the time. The No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet was perfect in Saturday’s show and on pace to do the same on Sunday until 65 laps to go.

Newgarden was the leader when the car snapped around quickly without warning in Turn 4 and hit the wall hard, ending the idea of a “Penske Perfect” weekend for the two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion. It’s believed that an issue with the car’s suspension is the culprit behind the incident.

“I want to cry,” Newgarden said. “I’m so sad for my team. I don’t know what happened. It was a good run. It’s just one race but I feel terrible for us. Team Chevy and Hitachi guys did a great job. Something went wrong there.”

Following the conclusion of the Hy-Vee IndyCar race weekend, Newgarden was airlifted to a local hospital in Des Moines.

According to an update from Team Penske on late Sunday night, Newgarden lost consciousness, fell and sustained a cut on the back of his head. All of his scans were negative and the Des Moines hospital decided to keep him overnight for observation.

Before being cleared to race in next Saturday’s event at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Newgarden will be evaluated by the NTT IndyCar Series medical staff on Thursday.

A sweep at Iowa Speedway wasn’t meant to be for Josef Newgarden this time around. (Photo: Chris Jones | Penske Entertainment)

The 300-lap race started with 120 laps of green flag action until rookie Kyle Kirkwood got up into the Turn 1 wall to bring out the first caution on another hot day in Iowa.

Kirkwood was running the high line, in the marbles entering the first turn, attempting to give the leader, Newgarden, enough room to lap the No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet. The gesture of respecting the leader was a good intention, but it ultimately didn’t work out well for Kirkwood, who is still learning the ropes of IndyCar competition.

“It just felt like Rinus (VeeKay) put us three-wide into there and I was just stuck out into the marbles from the start of the turn-in and then went wide into the wall,” Kirkwood said. “The car just didn’t turn from my point of view. It is what it is. It’s super-unfortunate the way it turned out because I thought we were having a pretty good race compared to yesterday. At least we were making improvements that entire race.

“We were getting better and better and making passes happen. It was an unfortunate situation for myself where it almost felt just like something let go and I went straight off into the wall. Here on entry, I just turned and there was nothing there. I’ll be scratching my head because we damaged that side of the car but yeah, it’s just unfortunate.”

The NTT IndyCar Series will host its second race of the year on the IMS Road Course next weekend on Saturday, July 30 (12 p.m. ET, NBC).

This is a special NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader at the Brickyard, with the Xfinity and Cup Series sharing the spotlight.

Hy-Vee Salute to Farmers 300 presented by Google Top-10 Results: O’Ward, Power, McLaughlin, Dixon, Johnson, Ericsson, Rosenqvist, Malukas, Grosjean, Sato.

Championship Picture

Marcus Ericsson’s championship points lead slimmed down to the single digits. (Photo: Chris Owens | Penske Entertainment)

Marcus Ericsson entered Iowa with a 35-point lead in the championship. After a pair of short oval races, his points lead shrunk to eight points. Despite two solid top-10 finishes, Ericsson’s lead still diminished.

Will Power is currently second in the points, thanks to second and third-place finishes in Iowa.

If it wasn’t for the crash that ended Josef Newgarden’s race on Sunday, he positioned himself to be the new points leader. Instead, he’s third, 34 points behind.

Johnson Stars In Iowa

Jimmie Johnson certainly didn’t lack any confidence, using every inch of the 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway to claw his way into the top-five. (Photo: Joe Skibinski | Penske Entertainment)

Jimmie Johnson ended his weekend at Iowa Speedway with a bang by scoring the first career top-five result of his NTT IndyCar Series career. This finish bests his previous top finish of sixth several months ago at Texas Motor Speedway.

In Saturday’s race, Johnson finished 11th. A day later, he used the knowledge he gained the previous day, applied it and got rewarded with fifth-place.

“This is a really special day for me,” Johnson said. “For everyone that’s been on this journey with me in the IndyCar Series. So proud to have the American Legion on the car.”

Kobe Lambeth is a 2021 graduate of UNC Charlotte, who earned his undergraduate degree in Communication Studies (mass media concentration), with a double minor in Journalism and American Studies. In February 2007, he initially developed a strong passion for motorsports. His childhood dream is to work in the motorsports industry for a long time. In June 2017, his journey began as a freelance journalist and social media specialist for RockinghamNow, covering high school sports and leading a Twitter project. He was a part of expanded coverage of high school football within his local community. Through the use of Twitter, his team had a goal of significantly increasing the number of followers on multiple accounts. At The Podium Finish, he intends to provide professional motorsports coverage, focusing on series such as the NASCAR Cup Series, NTT IndyCar Series and more. He's also a Multimedia Producer at GRID Network.

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