Team Penske NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race Report

Track:                  Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

Race:                   INDYCARHarvest Grand Prix – Race 1

Date:                   October 2, 2020

No. 1 Hitachi Dallara/Chevrolet – Josef Newgarden

Start: 2nd

Finish: 1st (17th NTT INDYCAR SERIES career victory)

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 85/85

Laps Led:  34

Points Position:  2nd (-40 pts)

Notes:

  • With a chance at a third NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship hanging in the balance with only a few races remaining in the season, Josef Newgarden and the No. 1 Hitachi Dallara/Chevrolet team delivered an impressive performance in bringing home a well-timed victory in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES INDYCAR Harvest GP Race 1 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
  • Starting the 85-lap event in the second position on alternate compound Firestone tires, Newgarden quickly lost one spot to Colton Herta in the first few laps of the race but regained his position by lap 13. The battle with Herta would develop into a major storyline for the race as they continued to battle throughout the event.
  • After Rinus VeeKay gained the lead before pitting on lap 18, Newgarden took over the lead for the first time during the late afternoon event.
  • Newgarden’s first pit stop was something his competitors kept their eye on as he continued to show impressive speed by lap 22 when he pitted for primary compound Firestone tires in an effort to continue to run consistently at the front of the field.
  • Jostling back and forth with Colton Herta for the lead on lap 54, Newgarden found himself only 1.5 seconds behind the leader after having a 4 second gap just laps before. On lap 57, the Tennessean maintained 50 seconds remaining for push-to-pass with Herta only having 11 seconds remaining.
  • In a twist of fate, Colton Herta locked up his tires and missed the corner into turn 1 allowing Newgarden to take the lead on lap 59.
  • During his final pit stop on lap 62, the No. 1 Hitachi Chevrolet team provided Newgarden with fresh primary compound tires and fuel allowing him to work his way back into the lead quickly by lap 67 where he would remain until the checkered flag waved.
  • This was Team Penske’s 217th Indy car victory and their 23rd win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in total with now six of those victories being on the road course. This also was Newgarden’s first NTT INDYCAR SERIES career victory at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
  • Entering today’s race 72 points behind NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship points leader Scott Dixon, his victory allowed him to inch closer to closing the gap now just 40 points behind headed into tomorrow’s second race of a doubleheader weekend in Indianapolis.

Quote: “I don’t know that I can think about the race because I’m just so excited to be up here on the top of the podium. I wish I could’ve been up here in August (Indianapolis 500) for ‘The Captain.’ He’s done such an amazing job with this facility. To see people back here, socially distancing in the stands and getting to watch a race I’m sure makes him happy. I’m happy to be standing up here today representing him and everyone at Team Penske, along with everyone at INDYCAR and IMS. Thank you to everyone that came out here in cold conditions. We had a rocket ship! I knew we did yesterday in qualifying. I was surprised at how quick the Hitachi Chevy was, and it was a great fight today. It was about strategy, close combat, everything you want in an INDYCAR race. I felt like Team Chevy did an amazing job and having Hitachi onboard has been good luck for us this year. I’m just pumped to be up here. I’ve always wanted to get up here during the 500, but this one is just as cool. If we had a few races back where we caught bad yellows we would really be in this championship fight. It’s almost a shame to see the deficit we had at times in the points because this team is unbelievable. They’ve been the quickest on pit lane all year. Everyone has done a great job and they deserve to be in this championship fight. We still have a bit of a hill to climb, but we made it smaller today. I said we needed to have three perfect races to finish. One of them is down and there are two to go.”

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No. 12 Verizon Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power

Start: 4th

Finish: 6th

Status: Running

Laps Completed: 85/85

Laps Led: 0

Points Position: 5th (-144 pts)

Notes:

  • Will Power and the No. 12 Verizon Dallara/Chevrolet team had a solid day at the NTT INDYCAR SERIES INDYCAR Harvest GP Race 1 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) road course where they started the day in the fourth position and settled for a sixth-place finish.
  • In the beginning of the 85-lap event, Power was able to maintain a position within the front of the field near where he started. He was able to take over the second position on lap 18 as teammate Josef Newgarden took the lead for the first time during the race.
  • On lap 22 Power pitted for the first time with his Verizon Chevrolet team supplying him with primary compound Firestone tires and fuel. Unfortunately, the right front tire changer had an issue replacing the tire, slowing down the pit stop just slightly.
  • Power visited the pits for a final time on lap 62 where he took fresh primary compound Firestone tires, fuel and a wing adjustment in hopes of being able to find speed and advance track position.
  • However, with just 10 laps remaining Power would find himself in the sixth position where he would remain for the end of the race.
  • Having too few points to be able to compete for the 2020 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship, Power and his team are focused solely on race wins and will be looking to score their series-leading fourth win on the IMS road course in tomorrow’s second race of the Harvest GP doubleheader.

Quote: “Man, that was a tough race. We had some great pace at different points but we just didn’t have enough to fight for the win at the end. Congrats to Josef. That was a big win for the team and big for the championship. I think we learned a lot on the Verizon Chevy that we can apply in tomorrow race and hopefully fight for the win.”

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No. 22 DXC Technology Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud

Start: 22nd

Finish: 16th

Status:  Running

Laps Completed: 84/85

Laps Led: 0

Points Position:  8th (-187 pts)

Notes:

  • It was an unfortunate day for Simon Pagenaud and the No. 22 DXC Technology Dallara/Chevrolet as bad luck plagued the team which settled for a 16th-place finish in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES INDYCAR Harvest GP Race 1 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
  • The team’s misfortune began during qualifying on Thursday when, after beginning the session on primary compound Firestone tires and planning to switch to alternate compound tires for a faster lap, a red flag came out for Takuma Sato that ended the session. Pagenaud would qualify in the 22nd position.
  • Knowing the team would have to battle from the back of the field, a confident Simon Pagenaud and DXC Technology Chevrolet team approached the event like the race they won in Iowa just a few months prior where they started from the last position before finishing in victory lane.
  • In hopes of using a different strategy than the rest of the field, team strategist Kyle Moyer called Pagenaud to the pits on lap 9 for fresh alternate compound Firestone tires, fuel and a front wing adjustment in hopes of improving downforce and finding speed to advance quickly through the field. The plan seemed to work as Pagenaud found himself running the 14th position just 10 laps later on lap 19.
  • Running in 11th, Pagenaud returned to the pits on lap 33 for fuel, tires and a front wing adjustment.
  • By lap 65, Pagenaud found himself running 16th and would remain in that position for the rest of the 85-lap event.

Quote: “Congratulations to Josef on the win today. It was a great race out there today. We still have some work to do on the DXC Technology Chevrolet for tomorrow’s race but we will get there. While things didn’t go our way today, it’s a great result for the team and good for the championship. I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race and hopefully we can end the weekend with another win for Team Penske.”