Newgarden Not Nervous

Josef Newgarden.

Josef Newgarden.

(BIRMINGHAM, AL) – Josef Newgarden wasn’t nervous with three-time Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon and a hard-charging Graham Rahal within striking distance in the closing laps of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. The 24 year-old Tennessee native held off both competitors and pulled away for his first Verizon IndyCar Series victory in his 55th start.

Newgarden, driving the No. 67 Chevrolet, is the fourth different winner in as many races this season. This was the first victory since the merger of Ed Carpenter Racing and Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and the team’s sixth win overall.

“This is the way I wanted to do it. I didn’t want to win on some crazy incident, or on luck,” Newgarden said. “This team deserves it. They gave me an incredible car and let me get out there and rip with the thing and pass people on pure merit. And that’s due to CFH Racing – they were just incredible today. We’re going up against the giants, but I think this team can be a giant one day.”

Rahal, who charged from fifth in the final 10 laps on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park road course, overtook Dixon on the final lap to claim his first podium finish since Belle Isle 1 last May. Rahal, driving the No. 15 Honda, finished 2.2061 seconds behind Newgarden.

“The Honda did a great job for me today,” Rahal said. “I passed a lot of guys and I hope everyone enjoyed the race because we were pushing to the last seconds. A few more laps and I think we would have had (Newgarden).”

Dixon, who won a week earlier on the streets of Long Beach, CA, finished third in the No. 9 Chevrolet. He has finished on the podium in all six races at Barber Motorsports Park; four second-place finishes and third in each of the past two seasons.

Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Will Power, who won at Barber in 2011 and 2012, placed fourth in the No. 1 Chevrolet. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who won the past two races at Barber, finished fifth in the No. 28 Honda.

Canadian James Hinchcliffe started the day from the 10th position and finished in 7th.

“The pace of the car was really good and I think the guys called the right strategy for where we started,” said Hinchcliffe. “We stayed out of trouble, had a good points day and we’ll take it. We get faster and faster, more and more competitive in these races and that’s what we need to see.”

IndyCar now shifts to Indianapolis for two races. On May 9 the drivers will compete in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis before setting their sights on the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, the 99th Indianapolis 500, on May 24.

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Ian Shalapata
Ian writes for and provides imagery to Square Media Group as well as accepting freelance photographic assignments. In addition, he has contributed to media organizations, sporting groups, and individuals across North America including the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, Chatham-Kent Sports Network, the Golf Association of Michigan, League 1 Ontario, as well as numerous colleges and universities in Canada and the United States. Email Ian Shalapata