Newgarden: Iowa race “was like a video game”

Josef Newgarden says his car was “amazing” around Iowa Speedway but admits he was surprised how no one could keep up with him.

Newgarden: Iowa race “was like a video game”
Race winner Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Race winner Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Race winner Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
J.R. Hildebrand, Ed Carpenter Racing
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Race winner Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Podium: race winner Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, second place Will Power, Team Penske Chevrolet, third place Scott Dixon, Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, pit action
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet takes the checkered flag
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Ed Carpenter, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, J.R. Hildebrand, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
J.R. Hildebrand, Ed Carpenter Racing, Josef Newgarden, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

The Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet driver, who had finished runner-up in the previous two Iowa Corn 300s, led the most laps in any Indy car race in history, holding P1 for 282 of the 300 laps.

The result was his third win in the series, but first of the season, yet has sprung him to second in the title race.

Commenting on his dominance, the 25-year-old Tennessee native said: “Well, it was a lot of fun, I will tell you that, maybe because the car was so good. I mean, it wasn't really falling off much.

“Some stints it was like a video game. You put on new tires, catch people at the right point, you could just slice and dice. I think that's a lot of credit what we've built at this team with Ed Carpenter Racing. The car was amazing.

Asked if he was surprised by the rate at which he dropped his nearest pursuers on the start and restarts, he said: “Yeah, I really was actually. I thought on new tires we would be together for a lot longer – 15, 20 laps –and I wasn't going to pull away.

“But it actually seemed like we had amazing new-tire pace. We could rip fast laps for a good 10 or 15 laps in a row and make a gap.

“[I thought that] as soon as we hit traffic, that's when I'm going to get away. That's where I felt like we really shined today. I knew we were going to be strong like that.

“So I was a little surprised at our straight-up pace. We were fast. Like the thing was just quick. That's why I wasn't worried about restarts either.

“I knew we could just pull away. The car was so good, come to the restart, do everything you need to do, hit it right, we're going to be up the road in just a little bit.” 

Hildebrand endorsement

Newgarden made a point of paying tribute to JR Hildebrand, who subbed for him in last week’s Iowa test as the full-timer continued to nurse his fractured hand and broken clavicle, sustained in his Texas Motor Speedway shunt.

“I have to give a shout out to JR,” he commented. “He made it that much better. Unfortunately we weren't able to test. But JR… I don't think we realize how lucky we are to have someone like him at our disposal whenever we need it.

“We took a great car that we had last year that I think was a race-winning car, and he made it better with his input.

“JR is so good. I mean, to me he should be in a car right now. I think he should be driving full-time. That's easier said than done. It takes a lot of money to put these cars on the track. But the caliber of driver that he is, he should be driving already.

“He's not a test driver. I think he's just a great driver. So for us to have him available to us is pretty fortunate.

“If we ever had to test again or race where I wasn't going to be there, I'm sure JR would be the top of the list for [Ed Carpenter Racing]. He's the best guy available – great teammate, great driver.”  

Surprised to overcome injuries

Given the notoriously physical nature of the bumpy and high-G 0.894-mile Iowa Speedway, Newgarden admitted he surprised himself by not finding the race too tough given his injuries.

“Road America is a very physical track, but this track is the most physical that we go to all year long. It's a seven-eighths mile oval. When you have a break, it's maybe for three or four seconds down the backstretch. That's your only break.

“So you're talking about running 14, 15 seconds continuously loaded up, three to four Gs on your body, and the wheel weight is about 15 pounds. You're holding that the entire time. That's not easy to do. If you go into the gym, hold up a 15-pound plate, it's hard to hold that constantly for two hours.

“I'm not going to lie to you, I kind of impressed myself! Don't take that in a cocky way; I was really nervous coming into the race. [But] if you have as good a car as I had today, it makes your race so much easier to drive. If you have a car you're fighting, you're loose with, you’re constantly sideways, it's a lot more physical to drive.

“So I think I caught a break by having a great car. That made it easier. I was like, ‘I got to be stupid if I can't get through this whole race. This car is so good, we can clearly win with this car. I'm going to feel like an idiot if I don't get to the end.’ That was enough motivation for me just to get through it. 

Hopeful of title challenge despite TMS non-start

Josef Newgarden [and Conor Daly] won’t be allowed to restart the rain-interrupted Texas Motor Speedway race which will resume on Aug. 27, as they lost 30 laps following their crash in June’s first portion of the race.

However, Newgarden feels confident about the remaining races – Toronto, Mid-Ohio, Pocono, Watkins Glen and Sonoma – that he could overcome his points loss at TMS.

Yesterday’s result means that Newgarden has moved up to second in the points standings, albeit 73 points behind fourth-place finisher Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske-Chevrolet.

Said Newgarden: “If we want to challenge him, we have to continue to march forward. 73 points is a huge deficit. He has a very big lead over everybody.

“You can't just finish well. You actually have to beat him in the races I think. He's going to be strong everywhere we go.

“We'll go to Toronto, try to do the same thing – have a good weekend, not have any crashes. We know Texas is coming. That's going to push us down. That's going to be tough to swallow when we get there.

“So it's all about making hay when you can. You have to win races. At the end of the day we'll see where we're at. Hopefully we're close enough at Sonoma that we can challenge for a championship.”

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