LEXINGTON, Ohio (WCMH) – Josef Newgarden started the race with the lead and only gave it up during green flag pit cycles as he cruised to a dominating win at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday afternoon.
The Tennessee native led 73 of 80 laps at the 13-turn, 2.258-mile road course in the hills of Morrow County after capturing pole position on Saturday. His win was not completely certain at the end, however, as Swedish driver Marcus Ericsson whittled Newgarden’s lead from seven seconds to eight-tenths of a second in the last 15 laps.
“It seemed like smooth sailing at the beginning of a stint. I felt pretty comfortable. Just 10-15 laps to go on each set of primary tires I was just chewing up the rears,” the 29-year-old driver told reporters after pulling his No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet into victory lane.
“We were hunting him down there,” Ericsson told reporters. “… Another lap I think we could have been really challenging him, because he was really struggling with his tires there the last five laps.”
“I had to make sure to be perfect,” Newgarden said. “It was not easy. He was much quicker at the end of the race than us.”
The only driver other than Ericsson who looked able to challenge Newgarden was Colton Herta, a winner in last year’s Mid-Ohio doubleheader. Herta started second but two slow pit stops, one caused by a fueling error and the other by a stall, fated him to a 13th-place finish.
Newgarden is the eighth different winner in 10 races this season. Sunday was his 19th career win, making him the winningest active American driver in IndyCar (over Ryan Hunter-Reay’s 18 wins).
The race’s only two cautions came in the first four laps in Turn 5. Fourth of July fireworks came early when Hunter-Reay and Felix Rosenqvist spun on lap one, putting both out of contention with damage.
And on lap four, Will Power, the other winner in last year’s doubleheader, was squeezed by Scott Dixon as they went down the blind hill battling for fourth. Power’s spin into a cloud of smoke scattered the field behind him and Ed Jones hammered the Australian driver’s car and ended both their races.
Sunday’s 180-mile, 26-car race saw mixed results for the locals in the field. New Albany native Graham Rahal raced near the front all day and finished sixth. He had two fourth-place finishes last year.
Jack Harvey, driving for Pataskala-based Meyer Shank Racing, could not overcome a qualifying penalty that forced him to start in the back of the field, as he came home 19th. He did set the fastest lap, though, with a time of 1:08.7341 on lap 65.
Aurora, Ohio, native Ryan Norman finished 20th in his first career IndyCar race.
Honda Indy 200 race results:
IndyCar was the last major race weekend scheduled this year at Mid-Ohio. There was speculation that the series would give the track another date after the Grand Prix of Toronto was canceled, but IndyCar decided to keep the date blank.
IndyCar has a month off before its final six races of the season, the first being the Aug. 8 debut of a street race in Nashville, Tennessee. Meyer Shank Racing part-time driver Helio Castroneves, who won the Indianapolis 500 in May, will enter five of the final six races, including Nashville.