Team Penske NTT INDYCAR SERIES Race Report - Texas 2

May 3, 2021

Track:        Texas Motor Speedway
Race:         XPEL 375
Date:         May 2, 2021

No. 2 XPEL Dallara/Chevrolet – Josef Newgarden
Start: 6th
Finish: 2nd
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 248/248
Laps Led: 25
Points Position: 4th (-37 pts)

  • Josef Newgarden looked to be in a good position to win his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES race of 2021 in Sunday's XPEL 375 at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) before eventual race winner Pato O'Ward made his way past the former two-time series champ with just over 20 laps remaining. Newgarden scored a second-place result in the No. 2 XPEL Chevrolet to equal his season-best finish from last weekend in St. Petersburg.
  • With the field set by points for the second race of the doubleheader weekend at TMS, Newgarden started from the sixth position. He settled in for a long green-flag run after an extended caution period following a multi-car incident on the first lap of the race.
  • With direction from team strategist Tim Cindric, Newgarden managed the condition of his Firestone tires as he followed the team's the strategy three pit stops. Great fuel savings allowed Cindric to follow the plan of running slightly longer than the other top competitors on each stint, which eventually led Newgarden to the front of the field on lap 202.
  • What looked to be a third career TMS win for Newgarden ended in runner-up result when O'Ward got by Newgarden on lap 225. The driver of the No. 2 XPEL Chevrolet was able to score his third podium finish at Texas in his last four starts at the high-speed oval. Newgarden is now ranked fourth in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES standings entering the month of May at Indianapolis.

Quote: "You know, I don't know what it was.  It just seemed like his Chevy was a little better than my Chevy for some reason. But at the end of the day a Chevy won the race, so I am pretty happy about that. Always have great support from Chevy, and fuel mileage. Fuel mileage was very important and reliability, and Chevrolet is always top notch for those qualities. Happy with that and to get Xpel a good second place finish, and I don't know that we can be disappointed, but we were in the catbird seat for sure.  Just did not have the speed at the end, I don't know what it was. At the middle of the race, I made a comment to the guys that we were lacking speed for some reason.  I don't know what it is, but we will figure it out.  We did a great job and I was really proud of the team and they stuck to it.  We learned some stuff from Scott (McLaughlin) on his car, did a great job in the pits and second place is a good day for us.”

No. 3 PPG Dallara/Chevrolet – Scott McLaughlin
Start: 7th
Finish: 8th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 248/248
Laps Led:  0
Points Position:  8th (-54 pts)

  • Rookie Scott McLaughlin rounded out his impressive first weekend racing on an NTT INDYCAR SERIES oval track as he captured his second consecutive top-10 finish at Texas Motor Speedway in the No. 3 PPG Chevrolet.
  • McLaughlin, coming of a strong runner-up finish on Saturday night, started Sunday's race in the seventh position with the starting grid based off of series points.  On the opening lap of the race, however, a multi-car accident slowed the pace and the race ran under the caution flag for the first 20 laps. 
  • The New Zealand native and INDYCAR SERIES rookie raced for most of the afternoon in the back half of the top 10, as he kept pace with the veterans in front of him while feeling out the handling of the PPG Chevrolet.  All afternoon long, McLaughlin tried to move his way forward on restarts but he wasn't able to gain ground and fell from ninth to 11th just past the halfway mark of the race.
  • Over the second half of Sunday's event, McLaughlin continued to try and find the pace from Saturday night's podium finish.  Despite his struggles on restarts, McLaughlin made up a couple of positions late in the race to secure an eighth-place finish. 
  • The top-10 result was his second of the year and second of the weekend as he enters his first month of May at Indianapolis ranked eighth place in the INDYCAR SERIES point standings.

Quote: "It was an up and down day for sure for the PPG Chevrolet. We got bounced around early cause these veterans are very quick and getting into their pace. For me, it just takes me some time to get comfortable and feel out the track conditions. The PPG Chevrolet was really strong, and I felt like we weren't as strong as yesterday, but we were good with fuel saving. It was hard to pass out there and you had to make your time up with lapped traffic or on restarts. And my two restarts were terrible. Overall, it was a great weekend and now I'm pumped to get to Indy.”  

No. 12 Verizon 5G Dallara/Chevrolet – Will Power
Start: 3rd
Finish: 13th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 248/248
Laps Led: 1
Points Position:  9th (-54 pts)

  • Will Power started third and ran in the top five for much of Sunday's INDYCAR SERIES race at Texas Motor Speedway. After he got shuffled out of the racing groove in a three-side battle late in the race, Power had to settle for a 13th-place finish in the No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevrolet.
  • After Saturday afternoon's qualifying session was canceled due to rain, Sunday's starting lineup for was set by points, with Power and the Verizon Chevy taking the green flag in third place.  Following a big accident involving six cars on the opening lap, Power settled into third for the first stint of the race.
  • Running on a single groove for most of the race on the 1.5-mile oval, it was difficult for Power or any of the competitors to make up ground on the track. Thanks to great pit work by the No. 12 Verizon crew, however, Power emerged from pit lane in second place just past the halfway mark.
  • As Power was running in fourth place and saving fuel for the end of the race, a caution flag on lap 190 once again brought the field back together.  On the ensuing restart, Power was on the outside of a three-wide situation heading into turn three and he got out of the groove and lightly brushed the wall.  Thankfully, the Verizon Chevrolet sustained little damage and Power was able to continue on, but he lost a lot of track position in the process.  Power crossed the finish line in 13th place and with the result, he fell to ninth in the INDYCAR SERIES point standings.

Quote: "It was a tough couple of days at Texas. I got caught out by the yellow there. We had a pretty good shot at a top-five, but unfortunately, I got put three-wide and put into the marbles.  This is a one-groove track and it was over after that.  I should have went to the inside and not the outside. We are still in the game – not as big of a points deficit as we've had before. The Verizon 5G Chevy will motor on to Indy.”  

No. 22 Menards Dallara/Chevrolet – Simon Pagenaud
Start: 8th
Finish: 6th
Status: Running
Laps Completed: 248/248
Laps Led:  0
Points Position:  6th (-51 pts)

  • Simon Pagenaud and the No. 22 Menards Chevrolet team enjoyed a smoother race in Sunday's XPEL 375 at Texas Motor Speedway than they did in the first race of the doubleheader weekend on Saturday night. The Frenchman ran near the front of the pack all day to finish just outside of the top five before crossing the finish line in the sixth position.
  • Pagenaud started from the eighth position after the starting grid was set by points for the second race at TMS. Much like the rest of the field, Pagenaud settled into a long run after the competition was stopped for a multi-car incident on the first lap under the green flag.
  • The fast Frenchman radioed to his crew early in the event that the Menards Chevy was loose on corner entry, but he was able to use the tools at his disposal in the cockpit to counter the handling issues of the No. 22.
  • The Menards pit crew provided their usual stellar service for their driver as solid pit stops and strong restarts kept Pagenaud toward the front of the field for the remainder of the event, narrowly missing out on his second top-five finish of the season.
  • The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will enjoy a weekend off before arriving at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the month of May, beginning with the GMR Grand Prix on May 15.

Quote: "Got a P6 in Texas. Good race. Had a car good enough to win. The Menards Chevy was behaving well today. We had some great restarts and awesome pit stops. My crew was on fire on pit lane. So happy with P6 today. We are building toward the championship and races like today will help that. Congratulations to Pato and the who McLaren Schmidt team for their win today."