Team Penske NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race Report - Newgarden Dominate at St. Petersburg

March 10, 2024

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Round 1)
St. Petersburg, Florida - March 10, 2024


RACE RUNDOWN: Josef Newgarden and the No. 2 PPG Chevrolet team left no doubt in leading 92 of 100 laps to win Sunday's Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the inaugural race of the 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season. It is his third win on the Tampa Bay-area street course and the 12th for Team Penske in the 20-race history of the event. After grabbing his 16th career NTT P1 Award on Saturday afternoon, Newgarden led the field through the first stint of the race, briefly relinquishing the lead after the first round of pit stops. He quickly used the grip of the newly applied Firestone alternate "guayule" tires and Chevrolet power to drive back to the front of the field in just six laps. From there, the reigning Indianapolis 500 Champion was barely challenged on the way to his 30th series win, breaking a tie with Team Penske legend, Rick Mears, for 13th place on the all-time wins list. In the process, Newgarden surpassed 4,000 career laps led and leads the championship standings heading into the non-points $1 Million Challenge at the Thermal Club in two weeks. 

NEWGARDEN'S THOUGHTS: "I sort of told myself before going into the race, I sort of want to let it be, not overstep, and then early on in the race, I'm like, I'm going. I'm not here to wait around. We're going to win this race. Just really thankful to the No. 2 PPG Chevy team for the effort they've put in to start the year. I should say the entire off-season to get to this point. It's been a big process for us to try and come back and be better in areas that we were weak last year, and I touched on it earlier in the weekend, but Chevrolet has done a tremendous job for us. They're a huge part of the equation. They're a big lift for us coming into this weekend, and I think on the team side, we've also lifted our game and cleaned up a lot of areas where we were maybe not at the level we needed to be."


RACE RUNDOWN: Scott McLaughlin used intelligently aggressive racing to power his No. 3 DEX Imaging Chevrolet to a third-place finish in Sunday's Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The New Zealander started from the ninth position but utilized the chaos of the first lap to his advantage as he passed three cars before the race was into its second circuit. Over the second half of the race, he methodically worked his way into position for his second St. Petersburg podium finish to go along with his 2022 inaugural series win. On a restart with 28 laps to go McLaughlin was able to sweep around the No. 26 of Colton Herta for third and held off a hard-charging Will Power to grab the podium finish. He leaves St. Petersburg third in the championship standings. 

MCLAUGHLIN'S THOUGHTS: "Great day for the DEX Imaging Chevy. We were really super strong, but I'm really proud of the whole team. The 2 getting the win. Well done to those guys and girls on the team. And then you've got with us in third and (Will in) fourth. Me and Will (Power) were pretty bummed after qualifying yesterday. We really had cars to put in the Fast Six. Glad we were able to bring it up to the front and get both podiums. We're getting close to one-two-three podium for the Penske team, so we're strong for that."


RACE RUNDOWN: Will Power and the No. 12 Verizon Business Chevrolet started eighth and finished fourth in Sunday's Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Sporting a new paint scheme for the first time in 2024, Power made it cleanly through the often-chaotic opening laps at the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit, settling into ninth. Working on fuel saving, Power pitted under the first full-course caution on lap 29 for primary Firestone tires. Strong service by the Verizon crew netted Power two spots off pit road. The two-time INDYCAR champion would move up to sixth just past halfway. Utilizing fresh alternate tires and a clean track, Power continued his trademark charge through the field. He passed Colton Herta for fourth position and began to reel in teammate Scott McLaughlin for the third position. The two drivers from Down Under would race closely for the final spot on the podium with Power coming home in fourth position at the conclusion of 100 laps of hard-fought action. He holds the fourth spot in the championship standings leaving St. Petersburg.

POWER'S THOUGHTS: "We kind of expected to be strong with the No. 12 Verizon Business Chevy. Lot of improvements in the offseason, the Chevy engine is really good and there was a lot of work also on the car. So, it was fun at the end and obviously we could push him. A lot of fuel save there at the beginning and the yellow fell at an unfortunate time which made it a bit more of a follow the leader sort of race. If it was extended by 10 laps like it used to be, then you would have a very big fuel window for the race."

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will head next to the Thermal Club near Palm Springs, California for the $1 Million Challenge on Sunday, March 24. This is a non-points event.