Josef Newgarden Wins at Texas in Thrilling Photo Finish

Sunday's race at Texas featured a last-lap pass and photo finish between Team Penske drivers.
Josef Newgarden Wins at Texas in Thrilling Photo Finish

If this was indeed the final IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway, it certainly will be a memorable one.

Josef Newgarden overtook his Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin on the final lap to take the win on the 1.5-mile oval. Newgarden finished runner-up in the second race at Texas last year, but did not want to do it again. The American was able to slingshot around McLaughlin coming off of Turn 4 and beat him to the finish line for his 21st career victory.

Newgarden beat McLaughlin to the line by 0.0669 of a second, collecting the 600th victory for Team Penske across all racing programs. “I was fuming in the car because we had all this traffic and it wasn't helping me,” Newgarden said in victory lane. “And then right when I needed it to help me, literally last corner, last lap! I think Scott led 95% of the laps, I hate doing that to a teammate.”

McLaughlin led a race-high 186 laps of the race but did not lead the one that counted. His runner-up finish matches his career best at the track where he made his debut last Spring. The sophomore driver caught behind lapped traffic, allowing Newgarden to pounce. The driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet was aiming to become the second driver since 2010 to win the first two races in a season.

"Second is a great day, unfortunately we led a lot of laps and at the end of the day we lost it,” McLaughlin said. “But if you’re going to lose it to anyone, your teammate’s the guy you want to lose it to, so credit to Josef and the PPG team. Gutted we couldn’t get it done for XPEL and Chevy, but at the end of the day we were there and I learned a lot in this race. That bodes pretty well going to the Speedway."

Penske nearly swept the top three positions on Sunday, with Will Power finishing 4th. It was Marcus Ericsson that broke up the Penske party with the rival Chip Ganassi Racing team. His three teammates all finished directly behind Power in the order of Scott Dixon, Jimmie Johnson, and Alex Palou. The top seven finishers were all Penske and Ganassi cars.

Simon Pagenaud had his best days in a Team Penske car, but did very well today by finishing 8th in his Meyer Shank Racing Honda. Santino Ferrucci finished 9th after a late call to drive the No. 45 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda after Jack Harvey was not medically cleared to drive. Rounding out the top ten on Sunday was Rinus VeeKay with Ed Carpenter Racing.

This was easily the best career IndyCar finish for Johnson, who won seven races here at Texas in NASCAR. Rookie David Malukas also did a fine job to bring his No. 18 Honda home in 11th position, one spot ahead of Colton Herta. The driver of the No. 26 Andretti machine was in contention early but a slow final pit stop ruined his chances of a win when the front-left tire changer had an issue with the wheel.

Ed Carpenter had a quiet 13th place finish in his season debut, driving a third ECR Chevrolet. Carpenter, in the No. 33 car, finished one spot ahead of JR Hildebrand, who was also making his first start of the season in the No. 11 AJ Foyt Racing Chevrolet.

Things were shaping up for Arrow McLaren SP to have a nice day after Felix Rosenqvist earned pole position on Saturday and Pato O'Ward qualified inside the top ten. Both drivers had trouble with an early pit stop when Felix slide past his box and Pato ran into his left-front tire changer. O'Ward was sent to the back of the field and ended up finishing 15th. Felix continued on before a mechanical issue ended his race just past the halfway point.

It was another disappointing afternoon for Alexander Rossi. If it weren’t for bad luck, the Andretti Autosport driver would have no luck at all. Rossi was penalized at the start of the race for jumping out of line, but that was the least of his worries. An electrical issue on his No. 27 Honda ended his day after just 12 laps. "At this point, like what do you say? It is what it is," Rossi said.

The team's rotten luck continued when Rossi's teammate Romain Grosjean came to pit road with smoke coming out of the rear of his No. 28 machine. His second oval race did not go as well as his debut last season at Worldwide Technology Raceway at Gateway. That wasn’t the end for Andretti, either.

The first caution for contact came on Lap 99 when Devlin DeFrancesco made contact with Takuma Sato in the middle of Turn 1. Sato got into the outside wall, ending his chances at a win. This was the first of three incidents on the day caused by the rookie driver. The Andretti cars finished 12th, 24th, 26th, and 27th.

Kyle Kirkwood was a man on the move early in the race, gaining 12 positions in the first handful of laps. He brought his No. 14 AJ Foyt Racing machine to the front before the yellow flag for Sato came out. Unfortunately, the rookie's day would end shortly after when he spun just after the restart. Kirkwood got high into the PJ1 coming out of Turn 4 and lost the back end of his Chevrolet.

This was a weekend that the RLL Racing would like to forget. They struggled in qualifying on Saturday, with all three cars starting at the back of the field. Harvey had a massive crash in final practice that did some serious damage to the tub of the car. The team was able to get Ferrucci to fill in, and he did an outstanding job. Christian Lundgaard had contact with the wall late in the race and finished 19th.

Graham Rahal had a scare early in the race, but was not able to dodge it a second time. That came on Lap 129 when DeFrancesco made a mistake by going under the white line into the turn, trying to go three-wide. He went up and into Rahal, who then got into Helio Castroneves. All three cars made heavy contact with the outside wall and were done for the day.

IndyCar will have the next couple of weekends off before the next event on the schedule. That next stop will be at the historic Long Beach circuit on April 10. Coverage for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach begins at 3 PM ET on NBC.

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