Heading into the weekend Josef Newgarden said he really wanted to run well at the Iowa Speedway because it’s the closest thing to a home track for his co-owner Wichita businessman Wink Hartman. With no race in Kansas anymore, the Newton, Iowa track is one of the closest stops the IndyCar series makes to Wichita.
After a tough qualifying day on Friday, that looked like a tall order. Newgarden, driving a car sponsored by a number of Wichita area business including Wichita State, started Saturday night’s race 21st. That’s second to last.
It didn’t take the 67 car long to drive up though the field once the green flag dropped. He made up 10 spots pretty quickly and flirted with the top 10 several times during the race.
The turning pointing in the race came in the closing laps, when Newgarden and a handful of others came down pit road under caution for tires. That call proved to be the right one for him and Ryan Hunter-Reay. The two got a good jump on the restart and drove up though the field. Hunter-Reay took the checkered flag, with Newgarden close behind.
“That was the weirdest experience I’ve had in a race,” Newgarden told NBC Sports Channel. “It’s almost unfair. You put on tires like that and you just have more grip than everybody.”
The second place finish ties a career best for Newgarden and Sarah Fisher-Hartman Racing. The 67 also finished second at Baltimore last season.
“It was good to have a run that was representative of our pace, we were definitely a top 10 car tonight,” said Newgarden. “This team deserves it. They work really hard and do a great job. We have great leadership, we have great management, great mechanics, great engineers. I’m just happy for our group really ‘cause they work hard for it and to get a result every now and then is something you need. And we’ve been waiting for it.”
Tony Kanaan, who led the most laps was third.