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IndyCar Road America: Power heads Penske podium sweep; Colton Herta angry at Newgarden no-call

Nearly two hours after being punted by Josef Newgarden on the opening lap, Colton Herta still was simmering after rallying for an impressive sixth-place finish.

The incident started when pole-sitter Linus Lundqvist was rear-ended by Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Armstrong entering the first turn. Herta, who started second, also spun after getting hit from behind by Newgarden, who started fifth in a backup car after a massive shunt in qualifying Saturday.

Armstrong was penalized for avoidable contact, but Newgarden left unscathed, which left Herta befuddled while watching a postrace replay of the crash with NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

“I just got punted by Josef,” Herta said. “I don’t understand how it’s a penalty for Armstrong right in front when I get the same thing done to me. It wasn’t even close.

"(Newgarden) doesn’t even attempt to slow down. Just dumps me. How that isn’t a penalty is beyond me. I don’t understand it. But that’s the decision they made, and we’ll roll with it.”

Herta unhappy with Newgarden contact; no penalty
Colton Herta expresses his displeasure after Josef Newgarden was not penalized for contact during a Lap 1 crash at Road America and remains disappointed despite rebounding to finish sixth.

Herta’s frustration was compounded by the third consecutive race in which he had a potential winning car foiled. He started on the pole position at Detroit last week but crashed while trying to make up ground on a restart. He spun two weeks ago during the Indy 500.

“It’s disappointing this is the third week in a row I felt we should win, and we didn’t,” Herta said. “The third week in a row we’ve been so fast. We have relatively nothing to show for it. I don’t know what to say. Disappointing.”

Newgarden said in a postrace news conference that he had yet to see a replay.

“From what I remember, I remember just everyone checking up on the exit of the corner,” Newgarden said. “I sort of center-punched Colton. I hate that most likely affected his race. I’m sure he went spinning because of it. I don’t know why everyone checked up on the exit.

“I saw people going on the outside. I’m sure something was going on in front of (Herta). It must have been. That’s the only thing I can remember without seeing the actual replay.”

Power ends 34-race winless streak

Outsmarting his teammates by waiting a lap longer to make his final stop, Will Power ended a 34-race winless streak by capturing the XPEL Grand Prix at Road America.

The two-time IndyCar champion pitted from the lead on Lap 44 under green and blended back on track ahead of Josef Newgarden, who had pitted from first a lap earlier. Scott McLaughlin had started the final Team Penske pit cycle by stopping from second on Lap 42.

It’s the first 42nd career victory for Power but the first for the No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet driver since the Detroit Grand Prix on June 5, 2022 (the final race at Belle Isle Raceway) — a drought of 736 days. He is tied with Michael Andretti for fourth on the series’ all-time win list.

Power ends 2-year drought with win at Road America
It's been 736 days since Will Power's last IndyCar win, and this one is "massively special" for the Team Penske driver who scores the victory at Road America, tying Michael Andretti for fourth on the all-time wins list.

“Finally, you guys deserve that,” Power radioed his team after winning by 3.2609 seconds over Newgarden. “It feels great to finally win a race.”

Newgarden finished second, followed by McLaughlin to give Team Penske a sweep of the podium at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. It’s the first 1-2-3 finish for Penske since the 2017 season finale at Sonoma.

Each of the Penske trio has a victory this season and over the past five races. Newgarden won his second Indy 500 last month, and McLaughlin triumphed at Barber Motorsports Park in April.

“I felt good about today,” Power told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “We had a very fast car. Thank to all the guys. Great strategy. Massively special.

“We’ve worked so hard to try to get wins. I worked really hard in the offseason. Obviously, last season was very stressful. Had half a mind at home and half at the track, so it was very difficult to perform at a high level there.

Power’s wife, Liz, spent the 2023 season recovering from a life-threatening infection. She and their son, Beau, celebrated in victory lane with Power, who took over the championship points lead.

Newgarden feels he let Road America win slip away
Josef Newgarden is proud of Team Penske's 1-2-3 finish at the IndyCar Grand Prix at Road America, but feels he gave the win away to his teammate after pitting one lap too early.

“It’s a really good team day,” Newgarden told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee. “I don’t think we can be dissatisfied with that. Will did a great job, too. Look, he deserved to win the race as well. He drove really well today.

“Both things can be true. It was a great team day, but I think we let that one go for sure. That’s what is hard about it. Team Chevy 1-2-3, we can all be super proud of that. We put together a great day. We probably just misstepped there at the end. I feel bad I came in a lap early. I probably should have stayed out.”

Said McLaughlin, who turns 31 Monday, told NBC Sports’ Georgia Henneberry: “It was a huge team day. I wish we could have ran a little longer on a couple of those stints. The overcut was really, really strong. But ultimately, this is a huge day for the team. It’s been a hard slog the last month and a half.”

McLaughlin: Road America a 'huge rebound'
Scott McLaughlin comes home third in the IndyCar Grand Prix at Road America and is proud of how his team rebounded after a disappointing showing in Detroit one week ago.

L36 — Newgarden passes McLaughlin for lead

Josef Newgarden swiped the lead back from teammate Scott McLaughlin on Lap 36 of 55, and the two-time Indy 500 winner now seems in command of the XPEL Grand Prix.

McLaughlin had taken the lead on Lap 35 as Colton Herta and Linus Lundqvist pitted. But the tires on his No. 3 Dallara-Chevrolet were fading, and Newgarden got past into the lead (with a friendly wave from his No. 2) just as Lap 36 began.

With 16 laps remaining at Road America, Newgarden leads by 1.176 seconds over McLaughlin with Penske teammate Will Power in third, followed by Alex Palou and Kyle Kirkwood.

The Team Penske trio each will have one final pit stop to make that likely will decide the race winner.

L32 — Penske in control on second pit stops

Past the midpoint of the XPEL Grand Prix at Road America, Scott McLaughlin seems to have the upper hand on teammate Josef Newgarden with Team Penske’s third threat, Will Power, lurking just behind.

McLaughlin pitted from the lead on Lap 30 of 55 on the 14-turn, 4.014-mile road course. Newgarden inherited first and then pitted on the next lap with Power.

McLaughlin caught both and was able to carve his way through traffic to move into third.

On Lap 35, Colton Herta leads, followed by Linus Lundqvist with both drivers out of pit sequence after a first-lap incident.

McLaughlin is third, followed by Newgarden and Power.

Lap 25 — Race settles into Penske rhythm

After an extremely choppy start, it seems as if the XPEL Grand Prix is settling into a Team Penske showdown.

Scott McLaughlin led the first 15 laps in his No. 3 Dallara-Chevrolet before pitting and handing the lead to Josef Newgarden, who seems to have maintained his pace despite starting in a backup No. 2.

After pitting a lap later, Newgarden blended back on track just behind McLaughlin.

The teammates are running 1-2 on Lap 25 of 55 after the first round of pit stops with Penske’s third driver, Will Power, in third place.

McLaughlin, who is seeking his first victory in more than a year, has a comfortable 3.5-second lead on Newgarden.

Lap 10 — Dirty driving

If you’re looking for a shining beacon of exemplary race car driving, the NTT IndyCar Series might not be the place for you lately.

It took until the 10th lap of Sunday’s XPEL Grand Prix at Road America for the series to complete a full lap under green.

The start was marred by pole-sitter Linus Lundqvist being knocked out of the lead by Marcus Armstrong in an incident that also collected Colton Herta.

IndyCar penalized Amstrong with a drive through penalty for avoidable contact. In a separate incident with Nolan Siegel and Pato O’Ward, Luca Ghiotto was given a drive-through for avoidable contact.

Shortly after a Lap 4 restart, the yellow flew again for debris off Herta’s car after contact again with Lundqvist.

And then after a restart two laps later, the caution quickly came out again for Kyffin Simpson, who landed in the Turn 14 wall after tangling with Christian Rasmussen.

IndyCar stewards penalized Rasmussen with a stop and go for avoidable contact.

In an interview with NBC Sports’ Georgia Henneberry, Simpson chalked it up to a racing incident in which he was
trying to hold off drivers on better tires.

“Just unfortunate; we had a pretty good race until then,” Simpson said. “We were able to move forward at the start. Everyone behind me was really quick on the reds. It was tough on the restarts to keep ahead. We were fighting hard.

“I was just fighting hard with Ras. Things happen in racing. He thought I was going to do something, I didn’t, and it just ended up causing that.”

In a separate incident, Sting Ray Robb was ordered to yield seven positions for avoidable contact with Felix Rosenqvist.

The penalties and rough driving were in the aftermath of a Detroit Grand Prix marred by more than 40 percent of the race being run under caution.

Lap 1 — Lundqvist punted from lead by teammate

Picking up where last Sunday’s chaotic Detroit Grand Prix left off, the XPEL Grand Prix at Road America started with intrasquad violence at Chip Ganassi Racing.

Pole-sitter Linus Lundqvist was punted by teammate Marcus Armstrong entering the first turn. As the Ganassi drivers spun, Colton Herta also was collected in the incident.

Herta, whom NBC Sports’ Marty Snider had reported was a prerace favorite of the paddock, was forced to pit. He will restart from the rear after qualifying second.

After three laps of full-course caution, the race restarted on Lap 4 with Scott McLaughlin leading Kyle Kirkwood, Alexander Rossi, Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon.

But the yellow immediately flew again as Herta’s No. 26 Dallara-Honda was hit by Lundqvist and left debris on the track after going over a curb.

After a Lap 6 restart, the yellow flag flew again for Ganassi rookie Kyffin Simpson’s spin into the Turn 14 barrier. Simpson appeared to be forced off course by Ed Carpenter Racing rookie Christian Rasmussen.

Prerace storylines

After a historic start to Sunday at Road America, the NTT IndyCar Series will take center stage at the historic road course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Linus Lundqvist will lead the field to the green flag for the first time during his IndyCar career in the XPEL Grand Prix. Colton Herta, who has been identified as the prerace favorite, will start second in search of his first victory since 2022.

After a massive crash in qualifying, Josef Newgarden will be starting fifth in a backup car. The two-time Indy 500 champion was OK after sustaining an impact that he told NBC Sports freelancer Bruce Martin registered at 95 Gs.

You can watch the race on NBC and Peacock and follow along here for live updates.

The move comes after Arrow McLaren’s Theo Pourchaire reportedly received death threats stemming from an incident with Canapino in Detroit.

It’s been a newsy week already in IndyCar with David Malukas announced as Tom Blomqvist’s replacement in the No. 66 of Meyer Shank Racing, and Nolan Siegel replacing Agustin Canapino in Juncos Hollinger Racing’s No. 78 at Road America.

Sunday afternoon already has been eventful at the 14-turn, 4.014-mile road course.

In the Indy NXT warmup event, Jamie Chadwick became the first woman to win on a road course in series history, leading all 20 laps from the pole position.

The native of England held off challenges by Louis Foster and Jacob Abel for her first career victory in the series.