Josef Newgarden wins the IndyCar season opener at St Petersburg

Josef Newgarden wins the IndyCar season opener at St. Petersburg

Josef Newgarden won the IndyCar season opener at St. Petersburg after dominating the action from the first lap to the last.

Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden dominated the opening round of the 2024 IndyCar season in St. Petersburg, Florida as the two-time series champion led 92 of the 100 laps in the race.

Although Newgarden had a couple of close battles with trailing rivals during the earlier part of the race, his final laps saw him virtually dominate the field with a strong display of form. He finished about eight seconds ahead of Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward, claiming his third career win on the streets of St. Petersburg.

Teammate Scott McLaughlin finished third, 8.4 seconds behind Newgarden, while Will Power completed the Penske trio with a 9.0-second gap behind the winner.

Together, the four drivers sent a message about Chevrolet’s intentions for the season, as the automaker launched the manufacturers’ championship defense with a 1-2-3-4 finish.

Specifically, McLaughlin and Power advanced from ninth and eighth qualifying positions, respectively, and claimed that their place in the starting grid was the key reason behind their incapability to challenge their teammate who started at the front.

Andretti Global’s Colton Herta was the top Honda contender of the day, leading one lap en route to fifth place and trailing the winner by 10.2 seconds.

Reigning champion Alex Palou finished sixth behind Colton Herta after moving up from 13th on the grid. Felix Rosenqvist, who started the race alongside Newgarden on the front row, fell back to place seventh in his debut with Meyer Shank.

Alexander Rossi, a former teammate of Rosenqvists, brought the second McLaren home in eighth place, followed by Scott Dixon for Ganassi as Rinus VeeKay rounded out the top ten.

Newgarden held his lead from pole position at the start and commanded a very stagnant first stint, followed by Herta, Rosenqvist, O’Ward and Marcus Ericsson. The latter, who won the race the year before, was forced to retire after suffering a technical issue just after the halfway point.

Leading Ganassi driver Marcus Armstrong, who was running in 10th place, clutched his front-left brake going into turn 11 on lap 27 and struck the tyre barrier, sustaining suspension damage that would put an end to his race.

This resulted in the race’s first caution period as the leaders crowded into the pits. Linus Lundqvist was the only driver who had not pitted at that moment and was now the effective leader after Meyer Shank’s spectacular stop for Rosenqvist.

Newgarden dropped to third place after Herta but as soon as racing got back underway, the Penske driver swiftly took the lead thanks to his alternate compound tyres, which produced more traction propeling him to overtake the Andretti which also got overtaken by O’Ward as the duo went on to pass Rosenqvist on lap 33.

Newgarden regained the lead after Lundqivst pitted during a second caution period triggered by Sting Ray Robb’s retirement. He held that position when the field pitted again during green flag running and temporarily led by up to four seconds before the race was again stopped.

The aforementioned interruption came after Romain Grosjean shoved Lundqvist into the turn 11 barrier, which resulted in a race stoppage. The ex-F1 driver fell down the order in his debut race with Juncos Hollinger after starting from fifth and had to retire due to a technical issue after receiving a penalty for the incident.

Newgarden broke away from O’Ward on the last restart while McLaughlin and Power moved past Herta and Rosenqvist to take over the space behind him. Palou persisted on his usual inconspicuous progress, overtaking Rosenqvist to finish in sixth place.

IndyCar Grand Prix of St. Petersburg race results

12Josef NewgardenPenskeChevrolet
25Pato O’WardMcLarenChevrolet
33Scott McLaughlinPenskeChevrolet
412Will PowerPenskeChevrolet
526Colton HertaAndretti/Curb-AgajanianHonda
610Alex PalouGanassiHonda
760Felix RosenqvistMeyer ShankHonda
87Alexander RossiMcLarenChevrolet
99Scott DixonGanassiHonda
1021Rinus VeeKayCarpenterChevrolet
1114Santino FerrucciFoytChevrolet
1227Kyle KirkwoodAndrettiHonda
136Callum IlottMcLarenChevrolet
144Kyffin SimpsonGanassiHonda
1530Pietro FittipaldiRLLHonda
1615Graham RahalRLLHonda
1766Tom BlomqvistMeyer ShankHonda
1878Agustin CanapinoJuncos HollingerChevrolet
1918Jack HarveyCoyneHonda
2045Christian LundgaardRLLHonda
2120Christian RasmussenCarpenterChevrolet
2251Colin BraunCoyneHonda
238Linus LundqvistGanassiHonda
2477Romain GrosjeanJuncos HollingerChevrolet
2528Marcus EricssonAndrettiHonda
2641Sting Ray RobbFoytChevrolet
2711Marcus ArmstrongGanassiHonda

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