Josef Newgarden was the man firing pistols in victory lane for the second year in a row at Texas Motor Speedway to ignite his 2023 IndyCar title challenge.
Coming into the weekend, IndyCar were very keen to try some changes to the 1.5-mile banked oval to try and produce better racing and boy did it deliver.
There were two usable lines around the entire track and it saw side-by-side racing throughout the field with Newgarden claiming victory for Team Penske.
Patricio O’Ward, who did have all but Newgarden a lap down at one stage in the race, fought until the very end until Romain Grosjean crashed two laps from the end to prematurely end their epic fight for the win.
But the biggest smiles will be within IndyCar itself as they have finally found a way to generate the kind of racing Texas became famous for after some subdued years in the Lone Star state.
McLaren’s indifferent day
Qualifying saw McLaren in first, third and fifth with a lot of speed in their Chevrolet-powered IndyCar but things quickly unravelled for two-thirds of the team.
Alexander Rossi was the first to suffer problems as he collided with Kyle Kirkwood, the driver who claimed his seat at Andretti Autosport, on pit road as one came in and the other went out.
Rossi lost several laps and was never a factor for the major places as a result before Felix Rosenqvist hit the wall to start the chaos that enthralled everyone in the stands.
|1||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||2:07’07.2653|
|2||Patricio O’Ward||Arrow McLaren||+1.2838|
|3||Alex Palou||Chip Ganassi Racing||+1.8839|
|4||David Malukas||Dale Coyne Racing||+2.1173|
|5||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||+2.4379|
|6||Scott McLaughlin||Team Penske||+4.1359|
|7||Colton Herta||Andretti Autosport||+6.4228|
|8||Marcus Ericsson||Chip Ganassi Racing||+1 Lap|
|9||Callum Ilott||Juncos Hollinger Racing||+1 Lap|
|10||Helio Castroneves||Meyer Shank Racing||+1 Lap|
Indy 500 hints
This race has always been a good indicator as to who might be ones to watch come May when the circus heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the 500.
Newgarden’s win perhaps masked Team Penske’s struggles as Will Power and Scott McLaughlin failed to hit the front all day but McLaren are going to be fast. They will have Tony Kanaan in a fourth car at the Brickyard and all four could be challengers for the bottle of milk.
Chip Ganassi Racing had speed in all four cars but it was Alex Palou who made the most of it, finishing third with Scott Dixon fifth and Marcus Ericsson ninth.
Takuma Sato was in the first half a dozen early on but crashed to cause the first caution of the afternoon, he’ll be back in May to go for his third ring.