Newgarden gets old result for Team Penske

by Gary Shelton on March 11, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Josef Newgarden celebrates after winning./STEVEN MUNCIE

Monday, 3 a.m.

Same team, new star.

Josef Newgarden greets fans./STEVEN MUNCIE

If you want to describe the St. Petersburg Grand Prix in a handful of words, that's all you need

Josef Newgarden won the event for the first time Sunday, beating Scott Dixon by less than three seconds. However, it should be considered an upset. Newgarden drives for Team Penske, which won for the ninth time in the last 14 events.

Newgarden, 28, had raced in St. Petersburg seven times before Sunday but had never finished higher than seventh. After qualifying second to Will Power (who was third in the race), he changed that.

Josef Newgarden won for the first time in St. Pete./STEVEN MUNCIE

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Scott Dixon finished second./STEVEN MUNCIE

"It's a great finish," Newgarden said. "I'm so pumped that we were able to execute today. I was really bummed yesterday. I thought we had a good qualifying position and it was a great team effort being 1-2, but I thought we had pole speed, and I didn't fully execute on that qualifying lap. So I feel like we executed today.

'We were very patient in the beginning of the race. We had a right-to-left different tire strategy again today, and it really paid off. I actually think it's what helped us create the opportunity and we just waited for that, and once it was there, we switched it up, we went to red, probably one of the only cars on Reds at that point and they were new and it really panned out."

You read that correctly. Newgarden was disappointed despite qualifying second.

"We are perfectionists," Newgarden said. "Certainly, if you drive for Team Penske and you've been in the series for a while, you're not really -- and you have a winning car or a pole car, you're not satisfied with anything but that. It's not that it was the end of the world, but you want to be able to get the most out of the car and yourself in any given day, and if you fall short of that even just slightly, it's disappointing."

It added up to an enjoyable day for Newgarden.

"I've always hated my results here the last seven years," Newgarden said. "Just never had -- I have honestly never had a good race here in an Indy car. The first year I came here in Indy Lights I won the race and it was awesome. I love this place and I continued to love it. I just hated the results that we've had the last seven years.

?But the event itself has always been so captivating I think to me and to the series and to this town. You know, really, from everything I've heard, everyone supports it incredibly and love it when we come to town here. There's truly an energy and a buzz about it. It's not the biggest city we go to, and they really light it up for this weekend when we show up. I love it. It's one of my favorite event to come to. It's just cool when you leave the track every day. You show up Thursday or Wednesday, every night you go back to the hotel, you walk the sheets and your hotel is normally close to everything so you can walk downtown and hang out, relax. It's kind of like having a vacation on a race weekend, it really is. I've always enjoyed this atmosphere."

Two-time winner Sebastien Bourdais was knocked out of the race early. He and Power missed in their chances to tie Helio Castroneves' three titles.

The TV cameras liked the views of Josef Newgarden./STEVEN MUNCIE

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