Josef Newgarden wins IndyCar race in Phoenix

Josef Newgarden begins the celebration in Victory Circle after winning the Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway. (Photo courtsey: IndyCar Series/Chris Jones)

AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Josef Newgarden used four new tires to catch rookie Robert Wickens and win the IndyCar race Saturday night at ISM Raceway.

Newgarden started fourth on a restart with eight laps left, and got around Wickens with three laps to go on the 1.022-mile oval. The defending series champion raced to his eighth IndyCar victory and third on an oval, finishing 2.994 seconds ahead of Wickens.

Wickens was making his first second career start — and first on an oval — for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Alexander Rossi was third, followed by Scott Dixon and James Hinchcliffe as Honda swept the first five spots in the first oval race of the season. Ed Jones, running second when he hit the wall in Turn 4 with 20 laps left to bring out the final caution, finished 20th.

Newgarden gave owner Roger Penske his record ninth series victory at the track and 198th overall.

Sebastien Bourdais finished a lap down in 13th after starting from the pole. He led the first 43 laps, then slid in his pit box and struck a crew member on the first caution for Pietro Fittipaldi’s brush with the wall. Bourdais dropped two laps down after a drive-through penalty for hitting the crew member.

Will Power took over after that, keeping the lead until a green-flag stop on Lap 124. The Australian made light contact with the wall in Turn 2 on Lap 154, ending his night. He was 22nd.

During the green-flag stops halfway through the race, Matheus Leist left his pit box before the crew replaced the left rear tire. Leist nearly hit an IndyCar official when he purposely spun to turn the car around. The loose tire rolled out of the way in the pit exit lane, and IndyCar didn’t throw the caution flag.

The 250-lap race was the first oval event for the sleek new car designed to improve competition and cut costs.

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