Story By: PAUL KELLY / INDYCAR – NEWTON, IA – The brooms are out. Josef Newgarden completed a sweep of the Hy-Vee INDYCAR Race Weekend doubleheader at Iowa Speedway by winning the Hy-Vee One Step 250 presented by Gatorade on Sunday, bookending his victory Saturday in the Hy-Vee Homefront 250 presented by Instacart.
Two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Newgarden drove his No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet to his sixth career victory at Iowa by .7050 of a second over teammate and reigning series champion Will Power in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet. The close finish came after a three-lap dash to the checkered flag due to a late caution period.
Newgarden has won all four oval races this season – including the 107th Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on May 28 – and can complete a season sweep of circle-track events at the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline on Sunday, Aug. 27 at World Wide Technology Raceway. He has won six of the last seven oval races in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES over the last 12 months.
“We knew we had a great car, and the pressure was there because I think we wanted to execute on it and make sure it was a great weekend,” Newgarden said. “I’m happy now. When you finish the first race, it’s great to have a doubleheader, but you just feel incomplete until you get through today. To be able to come back and do it again, I’m so proud of the team.
“It’s very gratifying because I know how good our car is here. When you show up with a car like this, you’ve got the pressure to just execute and get the job done. When you don’t get the job done, you feel like you did something wrong.”
There’s even more history. Newgarden joined legendary four-time Indy 500 winners A.J. Foyt and Al Unser as the only drivers to win five consecutive oval races in the INDYCAR SERIES, as Newgarden’s streak started last August at WWTR. Foyt won seven in a row in 1964, and Unser won five straight in 1968 and 1970.
This was Newgarden’s 29th career victory, tying him with four-time Indy 500 winner and fellow Team Penske legend Rick Mears for 13th on the all-time INDYCAR SERIES win list. Newgarden also became the first driver to sweep an INDYCAR SERIES doubleheader since Graham Rahal in 2017 in Detroit.
Newgarden’s victory also polished off a sweep of the weekend for Team Penske, as the team led every on-track session. Newgarden won both races and led practice Friday, while Power won the NTT P1 Award for both races and led the warmup this morning.
Championship leader Alex Palou finished third in his No. 10 The American Legion Honda. Palou’s lead over second place Newgarden slimmed to 80 points with five races remaining in the season. The Spaniard, who finished eighth Saturday, led by 117 points entering this doubleheader weekend. Still, he extended his streak of finishing in the top eight to all 12 races this season.
“I didn’t expect to be on the podium, honestly,” Palou said. “This is a place where we struggle, we don’t really have the package that we would like and that I struggle also personally. We got a lot of confidence today, but there’s still a lot to improve.”
Felix Rosenqvist finished fourth in the No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, with Scott McLaughlin rounding out three Team Penske cars in the top five in the No. 3 XPEL Team Penske Chevrolet.
Newgarden cantered to a 3.375-second victory over McLaughlin on Saturday. But a second trip to the winner’s circle this weekend wasn’t as easy Sunday even though Newgarden led far more laps – 212 of 250 – after starting seventh than the 129 trips he paced Saturday from the third spot on the starting grid.
It appeared Newgarden would cruise to another dominant victory late in the race, as he was well ahead of Rosenqvist and had lapped the field all the way to sixth place. But Ryan Hunter-Reay side-swiped the SAFER Barrier in Turn 4 in the No. 20 Bitnile.com Chevrolet on Lap 240, triggering the third and final caution of the race.
The five cars on the lead lap were moved to the front of field under caution, creating a three-lap dash to the checkered on the restart at the end of Lap 247. Newgarden got a smooth jump into Turn 1 and never trailed. Pole sitter Power passed Rosenqvist for second, and 2021 season champion Palou completed his Sunday salvage job by passing Rosenqvist and McLaughlin to earn his seventh podium finish of the season.
Newgarden took less time to pass teammate and NTT P1 Award winner Power for the early lead today than Saturday. He first got to the front and took control of the race on Lap 31, never trailing thereafter except for during pit cycles.
Newgarden will split $10,000 with Team Penske and his chosen charities, SeriousFun Children’s Network and Wags and Walks Nashville, for his victory as part of the PeopleReady Force For Good Challenge.
The next NTT INDYCAR SERIES race is the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix on Sunday, Aug. 6 on the streets of Nashville, Tennessee – Newgarden’s hometown. Live coverage starts at noon ET on NBC, Peacock and the INDYCAR Radio Network.