Newgarden wins for Team Penske at Barber Motorsports Park


Josef Newgarden celebrates his victory in the 2017 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park (Courtesy: IndyCar Series/Christopher Owens)

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Josef Newgarden kept Team Penske on top at Barber Motorsports Park with his second Alabama win in three years, with help from a teammate’s misfortune.

The new Penske driver didn’t allow Scott Dixon an opening over the final stretch to give Chevrolet its first win of the season Sunday in the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

Newgarden was overshadowed by his own teammates coming into the race that’s only three hours from his hometown of Hendersonville, Tennessee. Pole sitter Will Power, Helio Castroneves and defending champion Simon Pagenaud were the top three qualifiers after small Honda teams won the first two races. Pagenaud finished third and Castroneves fourth.

Newgarden moved to the front for the first time when Power was forced to pit with a punctured left rear tire with 14 laps to go.

Newgarden said he didn’t know if he had the car to overtake Power, a two-time winner at Barber who had led 60 laps.

“It kind of goes as it comes,” Newgarden said. “You take the breaks as they go.”

His work was far from done with Dixon a near-annual contender on the road course.

“When you have a Dixon behind you for 20 laps, that shows how good the driver is,” team owner Roger Penske said.

It remains even more of a Penske-dominated track with Newgarden’s addition, and one where Dixon can’t get over the hump. Dixon has five second-place finishes and seven podium finishes in eight years.

Power didn’t want to pit initially, but he finally yielded to the harsh reality.

“The car was awesome, so fast,” he said. “I don’t know what to say. I could feel it. I tried to tell them for as long as I could that it was fine, but it was going down.”

Zach Veach finished 19th for Ed Carpenter Racing in his IndyCar debut, subbing for an injured JR Hildebrand.

WHO’S HOT: Penske drivers have now won five of the eight IndyCar races in Alabama, and that’s not even counting Newgarden’s first win with CFH Racing. Power finished 14th after starting up front for the fourth time.

WHO’S NOT: Andretti Autosport. Marco Andretti, who had run strong much of the weekend, was saddled with electrical problems for the second straight race. He finished three laps down. Two-time winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was 11th after the team had to replace his front wing following early contact with James Hinchcliffe.

It was a frustrating day for a team that will field six cars at the Indianapolis 500 with the addition of Fernando Alonso.

ALONSO WATCHES: Two-time Formula One champion Alonso was the most talked-about driver over the weekend, even though he was just a spectator at Barber. He’ll run the Indianapolis 500 next month for McLaren and Andretti Autosport.

“I want to be the most complete driver in the world and the best driver in the world and I want to win all the series in different cars with different driving techniques,” Alonso said.

UP NEXT: Phoenix International Raceway, April 29. Scott Dixon is the defending race winner.

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