Everybody expected Josef Newgarden to dominate the IndyCar Iowa double header and he duly did, which raises another question. Can the Team Penske driver win every single oval race of the season?
Well, he’s only got one more left to take at Gateway this weekend on August 27, so there is every possibility of doing so. He clung onto wins at Texas and the Indy 500, then destroyed the field in Corn Country.
That takes his tally to four wins on the year, equal with championship leader Alex Palou but the Spaniard, racing for Chip Ganassi Racing, has taken his wins on road and street courses, which makes up the majority of the rest of the season.
It actually gets even better for Newgarden, who has now won five oval races on the spin because he claimed victory at Gateway in 2022, surely giving him all the confidence of doing so again in 2023.
Team Penske are always very good on the short ovals so unless one of his teammates or divine intervention stops him, he may well sweep the left turns this year.
Who could beat him?
Well, you immediately have to look inside the Penske stable to the two guys who can learn everything they need to from Newgarden, both in terms of driving style and setup.
Will Power claimed a double pole at Iowa but struggled on longer runs while Scott McLaughlin’s consistency impressed throughout, even though he couldn’t overtake his teammate.
Those two would have to be the nearest challengers if Penske are as dominant in Gateway as they were at Iowa but another team who could put the pressure on is Arrow McLaren.
Thanks to the Chevrolet engines and their improved oval speed, the papaya trio of Pato O’Ward, Alexander Rossi and Felix Rosenqvist should be right up there. They looked quick at Iowa but a poor qualifying overall didn’t help matters for any of them.
Chip Ganassi Racing always find a way to make a fast car and they have some serious peddlers behind the wheel but the outside bet has to be David Malukas.
‘Little Dave’ finished a remarkable second at Gateway last year, challenged Penske in Texas and was fast again in Iowa so when it comes to ovals, he and Dale Coyne Racing have to be up there in the top five-10.
Andretti Autosport are the one team which could really struggle as they have done on ovals all year. Kyle Kirkwood looked to salvage some pride but it really was a weekend to forget.