The defending series champion has a slim chance to win the title in the NTT IndyCar Series, making his second victory of the season of utmost importance.
Newgarden had to hold off the powerful rookie Pato O’Ward, who was in the thick of things in the first WWTR race, before the race was ended by a late caution under the yellow flag.
For Newgarden, it was his 16th career victory and helped to close the points deficit on championship leader Scott Dixon. It was his pit that helped him secure the win on the final stop. A drag race with O’Ward got him to the finish first.
“This was all a pit stop victory right here for me,” Newgarden told NBC Sports. “We got pretty dicey with Will (Power) and Pato (O’Ward) there on track. My guys have been amazing in the pits. They have put me into position every time. It was really fun racing Pato out of the pit.”
Although O’Ward wasn’t able to get wins in either race this weekend, he still had a successful pair of races by his standards.
“Man, we had a great weekend,” he said. “Our objective was to come in and try and score two podiums, and we did that. It would have been great to score a win. We’re so close. This Arrow McLaren SP No. 5 Chevrolet was very strong right out of the gates. We were super, super competitive. We’re knocking on the door, man. We’re very close, and we’re going to keep pushing. I know our time will come. We have to stay there.”
The rookie has been turning heads in his first ever campaign and even Newgarden took notice of the youngster who took him all the way to the finish line on Sunday.
“He did an amazing job. He’s going to do great things in the sport,” Newgarden said.
Will Power was in the thick of things right up until the end of the race. The 39-year-old Aussie got behind Ed Carpenter on the final stop of the race as they went down pit lane. Power earned himself a third place finish and was able to get two Penske drivers onto the podium. All in all, the result is not what Power was hoping for.
“We had a very good car, I thought we had the car to win but obviously it’s a traffic game,” Power said. “We certainly have had a lot of potential this year; it’s a very strange year.”
Although Newgarden is the winner in the record books, the other big winner of the weekend was Chevrolet. Their drivers swept through the top four positions. It was important after a week where Honda shined at the Indianapolis 500.
Another winner was the fans, that got to attend the race. Due to Covid-19 and social distancing requirements, the attendance for the weekend was way down from year past. After a fanless Indy 500, the midwest IndyCar fans were glad to see the gates open.
With three races remaining, Dixon still has a 96-point lead in the standings. A postponed doubleheader at Mid-Ohio is expected to be rescheduled to early September to give IndyCar five races to close the year.