Josef Newgarden Storms To IndyCar Phoenix Win Over Robert Wickens

IndyCar traveled to the desert for a battle on the tight 1-mile oval in Phoenix. After back to back years of following the leader, parade style racing that would make Formula 1 proud, this year was promoted as being different.

And it was.

Saturday nights 250 lap race featured 12 lead changes, Alexander Rossi picking people off like he was playing Forza on rookie settings and Josef Newgarden going from 4th to 1st in the final 7 laps on a restart, with new tires of course. Overall Phoenix 2018 was 100 times better than Phoenix of the last two years.

Sebastian Bourdais claimed pole on Friday night hot off his win in St. Pete two weeks ago. A stall on pit road before the race as the field rolled off certainly made things interesting for him. Shoutout to Robert Wickens team for trying to get him fired back up, always nice when teams work together regardless of the name on their suits.

Emerson Fittipaldi’s grandson Pietro brought out the first caution of the night when he went high like JR Hildebrand in turn 4 and hit the wall. The Kia Stinger spokesman’s grandson came to a stop in Turn 1 and set up for pit stops. Both Bourdais and Rossi clipped their crew members when they came in for their stops, both were given drive-thru penalties.

Will Power took the lead on the restart and checked out for 80 laps before pitting and handing off to Graham Rahal, yeah Bob’s kid is still out there pounding the pavement. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports took over from there with James Hinchcliffe leading for 20 laps before getting stuck behind a lapper allowing teammate Robert Wickens to get by. Shout out to Robert Wickens who looks more composed as an IndyCar driver than 90% of the field in only his second start.

Shortly after Wickens took the lead Will Power tapped the wall at the exit of Turn 2 ending his night but it wasn’t enough to bring out a caution.

AJ Foyt Racing’s rookie Matheus Leist lost a tire as he attempted to exit the pits. A penalty was issued but a stern talking to is like in store for the Brazilian. Leist dumped the clutch to loop the car back around but in the process nearly clipped an official who dove back over the wall like he was diving in a foxhole during desert storm.

Alexander Rossi has quickly become and oval racer since his win at the 2016 Indy 500. Saturday night he passed 22 cars on track as he stormed through the field for a P3 finish, his second podium of the year. For a guy who wasn’t sure about ovals and didn’t really know how to save fuel he certainly has come into his own recently.

Ed Jones brought out a caution with 20 laps to go after smacking the wall in turn 3 and coming to a stop at the exit of turn 4. Every driver seems to struggle when he moves to one of IndyCar’s elite teams, maybe it’s the pressure to succeed, maybe it’s just bad luck. Ed Jones will be a force at some point this year.

Jones’ wreck however set up a 7 lap shootout for the win. Josef Newgarden pitted from the lead to take four new tires, however Wickens, Hinch, and Rossi stayed out. The hope was with only 7 laps they would be able to hold off Newgarden because of the passing difficulty.

On the restart Newgarden got Rossi and Hinch and quickly set his sights on Wickens. However Wickens drove and amazing defensive few laps. The rookie would come off turn 4 and dive to the inside wall, if Newgarden wanted the win he’d have to go around the outside. With 4 laps to go Newgarden did just that, he sailed it off into 1 on the high side completeing the pass and driving away from Wickens by two seconds for his first win of the year.

Wickens would finish second and take his first IndyCar podium after his original first was stolen from him. Rossi would take thrid and share a nice handshake with Wickens after the race.

Full Results

1 7 1    Josef Newgarden Verizon   (Roger Penske) D/C/F 250 running 30 51
2 6 6    Robert Wickens Lucas Oil   (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) D/H/F 250 running 44 41
3 4 27    Alexander Rossi   (Andretti Autosport) D/H/F 250 running 1 36
4 17 9    Scott Dixon PNC Bank   (Chip Ganassi) D/H/F 250 running 0 32
5 8 28    Ryan Hunter-Reay DHL   (Andretti Autosport) D/H/F 250 running 5 31
6 5 5    James Hinchcliffe Arrow / Lucas Oil   (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) D/H/F 250 running 20 29
7 18 20    Ed Carpenter Fuzzy’s Vodka   (Ed Carpenter Racing) D/C/F 250 running 0 26
8 9 14    Tony Kanaan ABC Supply Co.   (A.J. Foyt) D/C/F 250 running 0 24
9 12 15    Graham Rahal One Cure / United Rentals   (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) D/H/F 250 running 7 23
10 2 22    Simon Pagenaud Menards   (Roger Penske) D/C/F 250 running 3 21
11 13 30    Takuma Sato Mi-Jack / Panasonic   (Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing) D/H/F 250 running 0 19
12 20 98    Marco Andretti Oberto / Circle K / Curb   (AHA with Curb-Agajanian) D/H/F 249 running 0 18
13 1 18    Sebastien Bourdais SealMaster   (Dale Coyne w/Vasser-Sullivan) D/H/F 249 running 60 19
14 15 21    Spencer Pigot Fuzzy’s Vodka   (Ed Carpenter Racing) D/C/F 249 running 0 16
15 19 88    Gabby Chaves Harding Group   (Harding Racing) D/C/F 249 running 0 15
16 23 26    Zach Veach Group One Thousand One   (Andretti Autosport) D/H/F 249 running 0 14
17 22 23    Charlie Kimball Tresiba   (Trevor Carlin) D/C/F 248 running 0 13
18 21 59    Max Chilton Gallagher   (Trevor Carlin) D/C/F 247 running 0 12
19 16 4    Matheus Leist ABC Supply Co.   (A.J. Foyt) D/C/F 241 running 0 11
20 11 10    Ed Jones NTT Data   (Chip Ganassi) D/H/F 228 crash 0 10
21 14 32    Kyle Kaiser Juncos Racing   (Juncos Racing) D/C/F 174 crash 0 9
22 3 12    Will Power Verizon   (Roger Penske) D/C/F 153 crash 80 11
23 10 19    Pietro Fittipaldi Paysafe / Embratel   (Dale Coyne) D/H/F 40 crash 0 7

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