NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race Report - Road America

June 9, 2024

XPEL Grand Prix at Road America
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
June 9, 2024


POINTS: 8TH (-67)

RACE RUNDOWN: Josef Newgarden and the No. 2 PPG Chevrolet team played the tire strategy perfectly in Sunday's XPEL Grand Prix at Road America before one mistake in pit strategy relegated the team to a second-place finish. The fact that the No. 2 team was in contention for the win following a hard crash in the Saturday qualifying session is a testament to the passion of every crewmember, even from the other Team Penske car numbers that helped get the Chevrolet ready to race. Newgarden, starting from the fifth position, was one of only a handful of drivers to begin the 55-lap race on the Firestone alternate tire as they correctly predicted the Firestone primary tire would be the preferred tire and wanted to ensure they ran most of the race on it. A multi-car accident on the opening lap allowed Newgarden to jump to the fourth position, and he was scored third when he made his first pit stop on Lap 17. After cycling into the second position, Newgarden was the middle driver of a Team Penske 1-2-3 train that would dominate the rest of the race. He would make his way to the lead with a pass of Scott McLaughlin following the second round of pit stops. As he controlled the race into the final pit cycle, Newgarden came up on a slower car. Team strategist Tim Cindric gave his driver the choice to pit whenever he felt he was being held up, which he would do on Lap 43. Eventual race winner Will Power was able to run one lap longer and jump Newgarden on the final pit exchange that resulted in Newgarden's second-place finish. 

NEWGARDEN'S THOUGHTS: "It was a really good team day. Really good day. I mean, 1-2-3. I don't think we can be dissatisfied with that. Will (Power) did a great job too. He deserved to win the race as well. He drove really well today. Both things can be true, it was a great team day but I think we let that one go, for sure. That's what's hard about it. Our PPG Chevy was fast. Team Chevy 1-2-3, I think we can all be super proud of that. We just put together a great day, we just probably misstepped there at the end. I feel bad that I came in a lap early. I probably should have stayed out." 


POINTS: 5TH (-57)

RACE RUNDOWN: Scott McLaughlin nearly gave himself an early 31st birthday present by winning Sunday's XPEL Grand Prix at Road America before finishing third in the No. 3 XPEL Chevrolet to help Team Penske to their first podium sweep since 2017. Starting from the eighth position, McLaughlin masterfully drove through an opening-corner melee to power into the second position when the caution came out. Upon restarting from the second position on Lap 4, the New Zealander made quick work of Kyle Kirkwood to grab the lead and he would stay at the front of the field until Lap 30 when teammate Josef Newgarden was able to make his way around as McLaughlin was completing his stint on the Firestone alternate tire that was not the preferred tire in this particular race. As the race came down to the final pit stop, McLaughlin was eagerly awaiting new Firestone primary tires to battle to the end when eventual race winner and teammate, Will Power, jumped McLaughlin and Newgarden to take the lead as McLaughlin easily crossed the finish in the third position, 10 seconds ahead of the fourth-place finisher. Remarkably, after finding himself at the bottom of the table following Long Beach, McLaughlin is now in the fifth position in the standings. 

MCLAUGHLIN'S THOUGHTS: "Huge team day. The XPEL Chevy was great. We led all the laps, obviously. It was a great team day. Will (Power) with a win, first win in a long time, and then Josef (Newgarden) second. I wish we could've ran a little bit longer and a couple of those stints. The overcut was really strong. But ultimately, this is a huge day for the team. Really proud of everyone. It's been a hard slog over the last month-and-a-half. Big few days for the team, big month for the team. Really proud of everyone." 


POINTS: 1ST (+5)

RACE RUNDOWN: Will Power and the No. 12 Verizon Chevrolet team entered Sunday's XPEL Grand Prix at Road America in the throes of a 34-race winless streak. That drought came to an emphatic end on the vast Road America road course as Power led Team Penske to a dominant sweep of the podium by notching his 42nd career NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory, tying him with Michael Andretti for fourth place on the all-time list. After starting the race from the fifth position, Power quickly moved into the top five at Lap 10, and following the first round of pit stops he and his fellow Team Penske pilots were in command at the front of the field. The Australian driving legend remained patient over the course of the 55-lap race as Scott McLaughlin and Josef Newgarden swapped the lead back and forth during pit cycles, but a great strategy call by team strategist Ron Ruzewski saw Power hit pit lane for his final pit stop one lap later than his teammates. That single lap of clear racetrack provided enough cushion for Power to jump Newgarden during the cycle and into the top spot. From that point it was one of the fastest drivers in series history hitting his marks perfectly and taking the checkered flag to add to his hall of fame-worth resume. With the win, Power takes over the series points lead as he pushes for his third-career title. 

POWER'S THOUGHTS: "I wasn't sure when it was going to happen. I've been digging all year. Sometimes it just works out. Long Beach I was leading by seven seconds. If a yellow doesn't fall there, I think we were going to have a pretty good day. A reasonable chance at Barber. Yeah, very good strategy. Very fast cars. A lot of fun. Like, once all the yellows stopped, it was a very fast-paced race."

The eighth round of the 2024 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season will take place on the beautiful Monterey Peninsula and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, June 23. In between, Team Penske will take part in an open test at the Milwaukee Mile in preparation for the series' return to the historic venue later this season.