It was a race filled with redemption for Josef Newgarden for the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America. Newgarden suffered a tragic loss at the same circuit last year at the end of the race due to a gearbox issue and he went from leading the race to finishing 21st on the final lap of the race. In addition to taking home his third win of the season, the Penske driver won the million-dollar prize for People Ready Force For Good Challenge and half of the money will go to Newgarden’s two charities of choice and the other half to the team.
The two-time IndyCar championship winner became the first driver to win the challenge of winning a race on the three different types of tracks. Earlier in the season, Newgraden claimed victory on the oval at Texas Motor Speedway, then won on the street course at Long Beach, and his successful comeback on the road course at Road America completed the challenge.
After the race, Newgarden spoke to selected media including Motorlat about which two charities will receive his sizeable donation from completing the challenge.
“To finally get it done and most importantly to give that money to charity, half of that money is going to charity with SeriousFun Network and Wags and Walks Nashville,” he said.
“I hope they’re happy about it. That’s a lot of money coming their way.
“You’ve got to be on your toes at all times (in this series). You can go in with a plan, but you probably have to change your plan 90 percent of the time once the race starts to unfold. To be able to hit all these disciplines with this team, for me it’s the best series in the world.”
While Newgarden was able to add a good deed to his victory at Road America, history was also made at the Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America in the IndyCar series. For the first time since the 2015 Indy 500, the open-wheel series saw two female drivers Tatiana Calderón and Simona de Silvestro take to the track and compete against a full field of IndyCar drivers.
The Sonsio Grand Prix was full of drama for the first few laps of the race and toward the end of the race with four laps to go. Newgarden led the most laps of the race, a total of 26 out of the 55 on the Road America road course.
Despite leading the most laps of the of the Sonsio Grand Prix the Nashville native revealed that battling Rossi on track was challenging.
“It was a great day. Great, great day. Felt really good going into it. Felt like we had a car to win today. It was just about executing. My team really put me in position on that first stop” Newgarden said.
“Rossi was not going to be easy to beat today. I felt like he was very strong. I felt like we were a little bit better than him, but he was by no means going to be simple to go by. That first stop is really what set the tone for us.
“Once we got in position, it was about getting through the lap markers, the alternate strategy quicker than him, building a gap, maintaining it. I felt like our PPG car was hooked up and had it from Team Chevy on the power side pretty much as always this year.
NTT P1 Award winner Alexader Rossi had a strong start on the opening lap and led the race for a total of 16 laps until a slow pit stop caused him to lose the lead to Newgarden as they exited pit row at the same time after completing their first pit stop of the race.
After the race, Rossi who secured a third-place podium for the Sonsio Grand Prix expressed disappointment and admitted that Newgarden had better race pace overall. The Andretti Autosport driver remained positive about the team’s efforts and looks forward to the next race at Mid-Ohio.
“Yeah, probably a little disappointing when you start on pole and can't convert. It was generally a good day I think. I think Josef (Newgarden) had a little bit better pace than us” Rossi said.
“I think we were the second best car. Pretty aggressive on the restart there to try and do something. Just kind of overstepped a little bit. That's what allowed Marcus to get by.
“Ultimately I don't know that we would have been able to win. Got held up with Scott McLaughlin a little bit coming into the pits when we were trying to leave on the first sequence. With the lap cars, Josef was the first to get to him.
“From there on it was trying to close the gap that got started there. A little disappointing, but all in all I think it was a very positive weekend for us for obvious reasons A good run of races, look forward to going to Mid-Ohio.”
Chip Ganassi Racing driver Marcus Ericsson who started the race from fourth off the grid pulled a gutsy move on Rossi with only four laps to go claiming the second place podium behind Newgarden.
The 2022 Indy 500 winner recounted how he managed to overpass Rossi at the end of the race and praised his team for helping him claim his second podium of the season.
“Yeah, it was a really good race for us. We were strong all weekend. Already on Friday the car felt good. Had a good qualifying yesterday” he said.
“Was my best qualifying of the year with P4. I think the race was pretty straightforward. Pretty good from our side. Obviously a lot of cautions that got you out of rhythm. Yeah, car felt good. Got some opportunities there in the end to try and get a better position. Alex had a bit of a slide out of the last corner so I got a run on him and managed to get by.
“Overall good day. P2 is a really good result for the championship, back in the lead. Super happy. The team did a really good job on pit stop strategy, so really thankful to the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Honda Ganassi crew.”
On the opening lap of the race seven-time, Nascar Cup Series champion Jimmie Jhonson caused the first yellow flag to come out after he went off track in Turn 3. Two laps later another caution is caused by, Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Alex Palou and Marcus Ericsson. Both drivers made contact causing Palou to spin out in the gravel at Turn 5.
The race restarts on lap 5 and by lap 8 there is another caution involving Will Power and rookie Devlin DeFrancesco. The Andretti Autosport driver made contact with Power that sent him into the wall at Turn 5. DeFrancesco later received a stop-and-go penalty for unavoidable contact with the Penske driver.
On lap 15 race leader Rossi pits for the first time and Newgarden trailing in second follows. Newgarden manages to come out ahead and takes the lead for the first time.
The race continues with no yellow flags with 20 laps to go. The top five drivers of the race by lap 35 are Newgarden, Rossi, Ericsson, Colton Heta, and Felix Rosenqvist.
On lap 48 Arrow McLaren SP driver Pato O’ Ward, causes the fourth yellow with a mechanical issue that ends his race.
A few laps later on lap 51, Helio Castroneves spins out at Turn 14 and the final yellow flag of the race is brought out.
Four laps to go and Newgarden takes off at the restart, Ericsson overtakes Rossi, and Romain Grosjean passes his teammate Colton Herta on the final lap moving him up to fourth.