RACING

Newgarden wins at Road America and claims $1 million bonus

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It’s safe to say Josef Newgarden feels like a million bucks after winning the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America presented by AMR on Sunday.

Newgarden earned his third win of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season in the No. 2 PPG Penske Chevrolet team and won the $1 million PeopleReady Force for Good Challenge bonus. The Challenge rewards the first driver to win on all three types of circuits – road circuits, street circuits and oval circuits – in 2022.

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The $1 million is split, with $500,000 going to the Penske team and Nashville-area native Newgarden, and $500,000 going to charities chosen by Newgarden. Newgarden, who had previously won this season at the Texas Motor Speedway Oval and Long Beach Street Circuit, selected two charities to split the $500,000 share – SeriousFun Children’s Network and Wags and Walks Nashville.

SEE: Race results | Race Highlights

“To finally make it and more importantly to give that money to charity, half of that money is going to charity with SeriousFun Network and Wags and Walks Nashville,” Newgarden said. “I hope they are happy with it. That’s a lot of money coming to them.

“You have to be on your toes at all times (in this series). You can go in with a plan, but you’ll probably have to change your plan 90% of the time once the race starts rolling. Being able to hit all those disciplines with this team, for me it’s the best series in the world.

2022 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Marcus Ericsson finished second to the #8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, 3.3710 seconds behind Newgarden. It was Ericsson’s fourth consecutive top seven, and he reclaimed the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship lead 27 points clear of former leader Will Power, who finished 19th in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. .

NTT P1 award winner Alexander Rossi finished third in the #27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda. A second consecutive podium finish this month continued a strong push for Rossi, who has finished in the top five three times in a row this season.

Romain Grosjean finished fourth in the #28 DHL Honda, while teammate Colton Herta completed the top five in the #26 Gainbridge Honda after taking 11th. Andretti Autosport placed three cars in the top five – Rossi, Grosjean and Herta.

Newgarden, who started second, won despite two warnings in the last 10 laps of the race which evaporated his 2.8 second lead over Rossi.

The first restart, on lap 50, lasted less than a half turn because four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves spun in his #06 Honda AutoNation/SiriusXM coming out of the final corner on the climb to the green flag. This brought the field together again on the 14-turn, 4.048-mile road course for a restart on lap 52, with Newgarden leading Rossi, Ericsson, Herta and Grosjean.

Newgarden, a two-time series champion, pulled away from the field on the second restart, just like he did on the first. Those quick restarts created a gap too big for any challenge, helping Newgarden avoid a repeat of his heartbreak during last year’s run at Road America, when he lost the lead to Alex Palou due to a crash. a mechanical problem during a restart with two laps to go. .

Newgarden led a record 26 out of 55 laps, taking the lead permanently in pit stops from his rivals on lap 43.

“I was just trying to stay focused on what I had to do,” Newgarden said. “Just amazing work from everyone at Team Penske.”

As Newgarden was locked in a winning streak over the final three laps, a mad dash for the next four positions unfolded behind him.

Ericsson dove under Rossi in Turn 1 on Lap 53 after the restart to take second place. Then Grosjean passed Herta for fourth place by crossing under the flag stand with the white flag unfurled to signal the last lap.

“I tried to be really aggressive on this last restart, and it cost us,” Rossi said. “But we were trying to win the race. But finally a good day. Josef certainly had a better base than us, and it took us until the last stint to adjust the balance of the car.

“We were coming back to him pretty quickly. I don’t think we could have beaten him, but overall it was a good day.

Ericsson’s second place came despite contact with teammate and defending Series champion Palou as he raced for third from Turn 5 on Lap 4. Palou finished 27th in the #10 Honda of the ‘American Legion.

“First of all, I’m really sorry,” Ericsson said. “You never want to have contact with a teammate. From my point of view, the door was open, and I was already side by side. If you see a gap, go for it. It is important at the start of the race to position yourself on the track.

“It was a very good race, and we had a very good weekend. Super happy with P2.

The next NTT INDYCAR SERIES race is the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio featured by the all-new 2023 Civic Type R on Sunday, July 3 (Noon ET, NBC, Peacock Premium, INDYCAR Radio Network).

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