Josef Newgarden holds off Pato O’Ward for back-to-back IndyCar victories at Texas
FORT WORTH, Texas -- Josef Newgarden won at Texas Motor Speedway for the second consecutive year Sunday when a thrilling wheel-to-wheel IndyCar battle with Pato O’Ward came to a sudden halt by a crash behind them.
Newgarden and O’Ward - at one point the only two drivers on the lead lap - frantically swapped the lead over and over during the final third of the race, and neither showed any inclination to lift off the gas in the fight for the win.
The two even bumped wheels at nearly 215 mph with two laps remaining.
RESULTS AND POINTS: Full stats package after Texas
But then Romain Grosjean crashed while running fifth as the leaders took the white flag, IndyCar threw the caution and Newgarden won under yellow.
It was the third career victory at Texas for Newgarden, who won in a Chevrolet for Team Penske. He led a race-high 123 of the 250 laps.
The two-time series champion scored his first victory since Gateway last season. With his 26th career victory, Newgarden rebounded from a mediocre 17th in the season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida, that ended with a fire in his No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet and dropped him out of the top spot in the NBC Sports power rankings.
O’Ward, in a Chevy for Arrow McLaren, has opened the new IndyCar season with back-to-back second-place finishes to take the NTT IndyCar Series points lead. He nearly won the opener at St. Petersburg until an engine blip allowed him to be passed by Marcus Ericsson for the victory.
O’Ward, who led 91 laps and used three-wide moves to stay at the front, is IndyCar’s new points leader.
Alex Palou finished third for Chip Ganassi Racing and was followed by David Malukas of Dale Coyne Racing and Ganassi driver Scott Dixon in a pack of Honda-powered drivers.
Scott McLaughlin of Penske was sixth and followed by Colton Herta, in his first race without his father, Bryan, as his strategist in a personnel change made at Andretti Autosport. Only seven drivers finished on the lead lap.