Josef Newgarden is one of the hottest drivers in the IndyCar paddock at the moment. Winning the Indianapolis 500 will do that for you. Now Newgarden goes to a track he won just a year ago, the historic Road America. This win got the monkey off his back from 2021 where he was in the catbird seat to take home the checkered before suffering mechanical issues on the final restart. This time Newgarden will look to replicate the magic that we saw last year and take another trip to victory lane in Elkhart Lake.
Last Year’s Magic
It certainly helps to start on the front row, doesn’t it? Once the green flag waved, though, Newgarden ceded the lead to Alexander Rossi going into turn one. Newgarden would follow closely behind. On lap 16 Newgarden found his moment. During a green flag pitstop, his pit crew was Penske Perfect and got him out just in front of Rossi. Newgarden would set sail after that and open a comfortable, three-second gap on Alexander Rossi.
A late caution would come out, allowing Rossi to close back in on his gearbox. It wouldn’t matter to Josef. When he led the field to the restart with three laps to go, he fired off the blocks on the restart and, before they even got to turn one, he opened up a seven-tenth gash on second place. From there, Newgarden would cruise to victory.
Can He Do It Again?
Team Penske made it really clear coming into this season: The Indianapolis 500 is our priority. Even with their priority being on the oval package this year, they have still found good success on the road courses this season. Scott McLaughlin would win at Skip Barber and it is typical to see two or more Penske cars in the top 10. Even though he did struggle during the last IndyCar race at Detroit, there is no doubt in my mind that Newgarden is capable of winning back-to-back at Road America.
I will, unfortunately, be watching the race at Elkhart Lake from my couch, but going to Road America sometime soon is near the top of my list. It is such a fun race course with a variety of turns, straights, and elevation changes. After dominating two years in a row, and looking to make it a third, I am sure Josef Newgarden shares our reverence for the twisting, turning course at Elkhart Lake. I look forward to seeing if he can make the magic happen one more time.