LEXINGTON, Ohio — Josef Newgarden finally got his win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday, putting multiple past misfortunes behind him with a dominant performance in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
Newgarden led 73 of 90 laps on the 2.258-mile permanent road course, taking the checkered flag 5.1556 seconds ahead of Team Penske teammate Will Power.
It gave the Tennesse native back-to-back wins, following his triumph from July 16 at the Honda Indy Toronto.
Newgarden also catapulted to the top of the championship standings for the first time in his six-year Verizon IndyCar Series career, moving to a seven-point lead over fellow Penske teammate Helio Castroneves with four races remaining in the season.
He is the first American-born driver to lead the championship since Ryan Hunter-Reay won the title in 2014.
“I feel like no one can take anything away from this win,” Newgarden said. “With this team on the (No.) 2 car side, I feel like we really did a great job today. There was no luck involved in that. We went out and won the race.”
Newgarden started second and made a daring pass of pole sitter Power for first on lap 13. He surrendered the lead for just four laps the rest of the way, thanks to various pit stop cycles.
While Newgarden has contended for the win at Mid-Ohio each of the past three seasons, various incidents prevented him from sealing the deal. Sunday, in his first season with Team Penske, the 26-year-old did just that.
“We’ve been close before here,” Newgarden said. “I feel like we’ve always found speed. … It’s just nice to get something at a track I haven’t had a previous history of winning the race. That was nice.”
A second-place finish continued a frustrating run for Power at Mid-Ohio.
The 2014 series champion has started in the top four at the track for eight straight years — including pole starts in 2010, 2011 and again on Sunday — but he has yet to win at the track.
“I know we started on the pole and finished second, and that could be viewed as coming up short in some way,” Power said, “But in all honesty, it was a very good finish for the Verizon Chevrolet. We really weren’t on the pace all weekend and really got the most out of qualifying.”
“So second (place), for the pace of my car … that was as good as we could get today. We’ve had too many seconds in this place, though.”
Local favorite Graham Rahal finished third in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda. It was the fourth top-five finish at Mid-Ohio in as many years for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver and New Albany, Ohio, native.
Simon Pagenaud and Takuma Sato completed the top five.
Castroneves finished seventh to retain second place in the championship, with the top four drivers separated by a scant 17 points leaving Mid-Ohio.
Four-time series champion Scott Dixon finished ninth in the race and slipped from first to third in the season standings, eight points back of Newgarden and one behind Castroneves. Pagenaud is a further nine behind Dixon.
The race ran caution-free until Dale Coyne Racing rookie Ed Jones spun into the grass in Turn 9 on lap 67, bringing out the race’s only yellow flag and erasing Newgarden’s 10-second advantage.
However, Newgarden quickly sped away on the lap 71 restart and wasn’t challenged the rest of the way.
The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to action Aug. 20 with the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway.
Full race results can be viewed on the next page…