September 25, 2022

Poleman Alexander Rossi led early, lost the lead in the pits to Josef Newgarden, and from there IndyCar’s annual visit to Road America became the site of the driver’s third win of the year. Team Penske in the No. 2 Chevy. After coming close to winning the race last year to have a transmission problem on the last restart, Newgarden used the potential his team showed in 2021 to lead with conviction for 26 of the 55 laps raced on Sunday.

Newgarden was simply untouchable after a series of full-course cautions gave way to a clean run, and in clear air the two-time IndyCar champion pulled away and held a lead over Andretti’s Rossi Autosport which was between four and five seconds. The fifth and final warning of the day created a moment of anxiety, but he ran away on the 52nd lap restart and left Rossi behind. by the time they got to lap 53 of 55, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson fished out and took second place, which he held until the checkered flag.

Newgarden won by 3.3 seconds over Ericsson and 5.6 seconds over Rossi, and in addition to picking up another win, Newgarden also won the $1 million PeopleReady Force For Good Challenge as the first driver this season to winning first place on an oval (Texas), street course (Long Beach) and road course (Road America).

“I was just trying to stay focused on what I had to do,” he said. “Just amazing work from everyone at Team Penske. Great to have PPG on board with us. We’ve had great success with this car and the Chevy team. That first stop really set the tone for us. I felt like our car was really hooked up and had everything we needed from Chevy on the power side.

Newgarden will share the $1 million with two charities that hold special meaning for the 31-year-old from Tennessee.

“I kept forgetting about it,” he said of the bonus. “To finally do it and above all give this money to charity; half of that money goes to charity with SeriousFun Children’s Network and Wags and Walks Nashville. I hope they are happy with it. That’s a lot of money coming back to them.

After Rossi, two of his Andretti brothers raced well with the aforementioned Grosjean in P4 and a charging Colton Herta in P5, having regained the place he had won in qualifying but lost when a six-position grid penalty was imposed for an unapproved engine change. The top six were completed by Arrow McLaren SP’s Felix Rosenqvist who led those who pitted early and were forced to save large amounts of fuel for most of the race.

Elsewhere, Graham Rahal was the biggest player on the day, rising from P22 to P8 for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. The race was also marred by unfortunate exits for two drivers in the title chase when Ericsson and teammate Alex Palou made contact which left the defending champion in last place and AMSP’s Pato O’Ward suffered an apparent engine failure nine laps from the end left him in P26.

A well-stocked board at the start. Gavin Baker/Lumen

The 55-lap race began with an orderly start – a nice change – and the field of 27 navigated through three corners before first contact saw Jimmie Johnson trying to round the outside of Tatiana Calderon, but as As he approached, his movement to the left coincided with his attempt to overtake on the far left of the road. Navigating the grass, Johnson spun and stalled in the gravel trap and lost a lap while waiting to be restarted under the first full course warning of the day.

After passing Calderon and Johnson, Simona De Silvestro stopped at the end of the 2nd lap to refuel and pass from the Firestone alternates to the primaries.

On the restart of lap 4, Rossi got off to a great start but another FCY was needed when Ericsson pulled out late to pass teammate Alex Palou on the entry to Turn 5; light contact with Ericsson’s right rear wheel on Palou’s left front appeared to break the steering arm of Palou’s car, sending him into the gravel. Contact up the hill at Turn 6 between Christian Lundgaard and Rinus VeeKay saw VeeKay in the grass – and a banner ad – coming out of Turn 6 as well. Unable to steer his car to the pits, Palou’s day was effectively over when the #10 Honda was taken away by a tow truck.

The Lap 7 restart saw Rossi lead again as teammate Colton Herta took another place, passing Scott McLaughlin for P6, against P11. The clean run lasted a full lap as a third FCY was needed as rookie Devlin DeFrancesco clashed with Will Power on P15 on the entry to Turn 3, and at Turn 5 a second contact with DeFrancesco – swinging to the left under braking to try and pass – ended with a nerf from Power into the right wall. With extensive damage to the nose of Power’s car, it was restarted and sent to the pit lane where a further inspection of the nose and suspension was carried out. He returned to P25.

During the FCY, a number of drivers, including Felix Rosenqvist in P9, stopped to swap replacements for primaries.

The 11th lap restart was unremarkable as Rossi was ahead of Josef Newgarden, Ericsson, Romain Grosjean, Pato O’Ward and Herta. On lap 15, Rossi held 0.6949 on Newgarden as the alternate rear tires on the leader’s car appeared to be at the end of their life. Both pitted at the end of the lap to switch to the primary tires. Rossi’s team had a slow rear left tire change and had to wait a while for pitting Scott McLaughlin, who promoted Newgarden to the lead.

Leader Ericsson and Grosjean pitted at the end of the next lap, as did many of the other top 10 riders. Going an extra lap did wonders for Ericsson who jumped past Rossi for what would become P2 then the other cars were stopping. . Ericsson came off the track at turn 7 and gave up position halfway through the lap and Rossi also had Grosjean try to take his place coming out of the pits which led to a tight moment in the turn 1 which ultimately fell in favor of Rossi. Herta then passed through Grosjean at turn 5 for what was soon to be P4.

Those with alternative strategies held the lead on lap 20 as Rosenqvist, Graham Rahal and VeeKay led Newgarden. De Silvestro was in 7th place as Simon Pagenaud had a wild ride starting at The Kink, but kept the car off the wall.

Rosenqvist stopped on lap 26, giving the lead back to Newgarden, who stopped on lap 29 with Herta, O’Ward and McLaughlin as Rossi stayed away and regained the lead. McLaughlin passed O’Ward in the pits. Rossi and Ericsson were on the next lap.

After the pit stops, Newgarden was back in the lead 4.2 seconds clear of Rossi on lap 32. Rosenqvist, while saving fuel, was 6.5 seconds behind and Ericsson was right behind him and passed on lap 34.

On lap 41, Rosenqvist was the first of the leading cars to make their final stop and he was followed on lap 42 by leader Newgarden and Rossi, along with O’Ward and others.

After the final stops Newgarden regained a 4.5s lead over Rossi on lap 44 of 55 and had distance Ericsson in P3 14.4s behind, then Herta 15.0s and Rosenqvist in P5 at 17.2. Grosjean easily took Rosenqvist’s position on lap 46 as Rossi cut Newgarden’s lead to 3.2 seconds.

Lap 48 saw the fourth FCY after O’Ward’s engine stalled in the corner of Canada and left him parked on the side of the road. The running order was Newgarden, Rossi, Ericsson, Herta, Grosjean, Rosenqvist, Rahal, McLaughlin, Dixon and Lundgaard in the top 10.

Another attempt to pass the checkered flag was made, but Helio Castroneves went off on lap 51 and another break was needed. The final blast at the finish saw Newgarden rush off and race away to a 3.3 second victory over new P2 holder Ericsson who overtook Rossi who won the P2 with teammate Grosjean just 0 behind. 2 seconds behind in their acceleration race towards the strip.