ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Josef Newgarden earned a $1 million bonus on Sunday for his victory at Road America, where his third victory of the season completed a trio of victories on the various IndyCar circuits.
Newgarden has won at the Oval in Texas and the Long Beach Street Circuit this season, and headed to Road America in search of a road course win that would make him the first IndyCar driver this season to win. on all three circuits.
The reward was a $1 million payout from the PeopleReady Force for Good Challenge, which split the bonus between Team Penske and Newgarden’s chosen charities. The American selected Wags and Walks of Nashville and SeriousFun Children’s Network. It was the challenge’s first year and claimed before the midpoint of the IndyCar season; Newgarden is the only driver to have multiple wins in eight of 17 races.
Newgarden beat Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing by 3.371 seconds after two late restarts, but Ericsson regained the points lead with second place.
Alexander Rossi, the Andretti Autosport driver who started on pole in search of his first victory in three years, finished third and was followed by teammates Romain Grosjean and Colton Herta.
Chevrolet won the race with Newgarden, but Honda took the next four spots. Arrow McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist and Penske’s Scott McLaughlin finished sixth and seventh for Chevy.
Newgarden had a 2.8 second lead over Rossi when Pato O’Ward’s engine failed with six laps to go to set up the first late restart. Then Helio Castroneves sped off for another warning.
Newgarden took a big leap over Rossi in both late restarts and never looked back.
Rossi had his hands full first with Ericsson and then with his own teammates as his losing streak stretched to 45 runs. His pole position on Saturday was his first in three years.
Newgarden won for the second time at Road America, but he was on his way to victory a year ago until his gearbox failed in the final laps and handed the reigning champ the win of IndyCar Alex Palou.
FIGHT FOR TITLE CONTAINERS
Palou’s chances of defending last year’s win vanished almost immediately due to an early tangle with Ganassi teammate Ericsson. When Ericsson moved inside Palou, the right-rear of the Swede’s car made contact with the left-front of Palou’s, and the Spaniard went off the rails.
“He was trying to win the race on the third lap,” Palou said. “The car broke. That’s it. Game over.”
Will Power, meanwhile, lost the IndyCar points lead due to his own early incident. A poor qualifying effort put Power in 15th at the start and he was rammed from behind by rookie Devlin DeFrancesco just eight laps into the race. Power finished 19th.
DeFrancesco received a stop-and-go penalty for making avoidable contact, and Power fell to second place in the standings, 27 points behind Ericsson.
O’Ward’s engine failure dropped him from third to fourth in the standings; Palou went from fourth to fifth place. Newgarden’s victory, meanwhile, moved them from fifth to third in the points.
JIMMIE EARLY SPIN
Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson had a frustrating day due to contact with Tatiana Calderon at the back of the field on the first lap. Johnson went off the rails to pull out a full yellow. He finished 24th.
Calderon was on the field with Simona de Silvestro, marking the first time an IndyCar event included two female drivers since de Silvestro and Pippa Mann competed in the 2015 Indianapolis 500.
There is a two-week break in the IndyCar schedule before the July 3 race at Mid-Ohio in Lexington, Ohio. Newgarden won at Mid-Ohio last year.