Everything that happened in IndyCar’s Newgarden-controlled opener

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Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden delivered a masterclass in race management from pole position to take his third win at St Petersburg in the 2024 IndyCar season opener, leading an all-Chevrolet top four.

The first stint was as boring as they come in IndyCar as the order barely changed after the first lap thanks to heavy fuel-saving, and the highlight of the early running was a lap seven TV interview with Jon Bon Jovi promoting the race.

Marcus Armstrong crashing at Turn 10 with a “costly mistake” on lap 27 of 100 prompted a caution to coax the race into action.

After Newgarden’s early domination, he was shuffled back to fifth while Christian Lundgaard – who pitted for a puncture caused by reigning champion Alex Palou, who was so fortunate to not get penalised – stayed out and led.

But Newgarden showed his credentials by taking just a couple of laps to move past two cars ahead and then another caution at lap 35 for Sting Ray Robb in the runoff meant Lundgaard pitted and handed Newgarden the lead, with Pato O’Ward his new closest challenger.

The second stint was another fuel-saving snoozefest, and at the final stop, Newgarden emerged with a whopping five-and-a-half-second lead, before a second Ganassi car in the barriers at Turn 10 – Linus Lundqvist, punted by Romain Grosjean – with 31 laps to go bunched up the field and meant no need for any more fuel saving, much to the relief of this writer.

Grosjean had qualified fifth on his Juncos Hollinger Racing debut and did fall back on race pace to the back end of the top 10. After an initially really impressive and consistent race performance, just after his final stop, he was adjudged to be at fault for the Lundqvist incident and got a drive-through penalty, and he later retired inside the last 15 laps with a lack of drive. He accepted responsibility for the Lundqvist shunt.

Back up front, Scott McLaughlin and Will Power – the Penske team-mates on the same strategy of finishing the race on the soft tyre – worked past Colton Herta, who was a constant top-five car all day and had some rapid pistops to his Andretti team’s credit – on the restart and put the hard tyres-shod O’Ward under pressure for second.

Unfortunately for them, McLaughlin and Power weren’t able to use the advantage of the softs before the hards came up to speed, allowing O’Ward some breathing room and Newgarden to check out into the distance. O’Ward came under heavy pressure again in the closing laps but held on to the end.

After two years of personnel changes close to the start of the season, a pole and a win is the perfect season opener for double champion Newgarden, with O’Ward second for a second year in a row for Arrow McLaren.

McLaughlin and Power made it three Penske cars in the top four – to go with their 12th win at St Pete – and Herta held on to fifth for Andretti, achieving his goal of a strong result to start the season after a tough start to 2023.

A trademark ‘where did he come from’ drive from reigning champion Palou meant a sixth-place finish.

Palou started 13th and was rarely inside the top 10 for most of the race until the final stop, he pitted later than some of his rivals and boosted into seventh, and then he passed Felix Rosenqvist to take that sixth spot.

His rivals will be wondering why he didn’t get a penalty for effectively ruining Lundgaard’s race at the start.

Rosenqvist had almost the perfect weekend in his debut with Meyer Shank, and although it has been quick on street courses before and that must be a cautionary note to its performance, Rosenqvist executed with second in qualifying and a track record lap.

In the penultimate stint and last stop he lost time to his rivals and slipped back to what is still an admirable seventh-place finish – the team’s best since the 2022 Toronto race that July.

Alexander Rossi – in a similar way to Palou – jumped up the order at the last round of stops and turned his 15th-place start into eighth, ahead of Scott Dixon and Ed Carpenter Racing’s Rinus VeeKay.

Santino Ferrucci plummeted down the order at the first pitstop but recovered to 11th showing AJ Foyt’s step forward in pace with its best result on a road and street course since Long Beach in April 2022.

In a substitute appearance for the injured David Malukas, Callum Ilott was 13th for Arrow McLaren, one spot ahead of top rookie Kyffin Simpson at Ganassi – that being a stellar debut for a driver who has had his credentials doubted by many who are familiar with the budget he brings to the team.

Marcus Ericsson’s start to life at Andretti had begun so well by qualifying sixth for the race, but last year’s St Pete winner retired from seventh just after the halfway point with a loss of power.

Race Results

Pos Name Car Laps Laps Led Total Time Fastest Lap Pitstops Pts
1 Josef Newgarden Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 92 1h51m29.595s 1m00.680s 2 54
2 Patricio O’Ward Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +7.913s 1m01.460s 2 40
3 Scott McLaughlin Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +8.458s 1m01.392s 2 35
4 Will Power Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +9.056s 1m01.062s 2 32
5 Colton Herta Dallara DW12-Honda 100 1 +10.258s 1m01.474s 2 31
6 Alex Palou Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +11.804s 1m01.319s 2 28
7 Felix Rosenqvist Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +14.405s 1m01.438s 2 26
8 Alexander Rossi Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +15.786s 1m01.618s 2 24
9 Scott Dixon Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +16.297s 1m01.179s 2 22
10 Rinus VeeKay Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +18.835s 1m01.664s 2 20
11 Santino Ferrucci Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +23.044s 1m01.838s 2 19
12 Kyle Kirkwood Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +24.588s 1m01.437s 2 18
13 Callum Ilott Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +28.712s 1m01.819s 2 17
14 Kyffin Simpson Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +29.567s 1m00.878s 2 16
15 Pietro Fittipaldi Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +32.818s 1m01.712s 2 15
16 Graham Rahal Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +34.696s 1m01.083s 3 14
17 Tom Blomqvist Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +40.473s 1m01.923s 2 13
18 Agustín Canapino Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 100 0 +42.125s 1m01.864s 2 12
19 Jack Harvey Dallara DW12-Honda 100 0 +49.346s 1m02.085s 2 11
20 Christian Lundgaard Dallara DW12-Honda 100 7 +58.735s 1m01.181s 3 11
21 Christian Rasmussen Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 99 0 +0.000s 1m02.030s 2 9
22 Colin Braun Dallara DW12-Honda 99 0 +0.000s 1m02.119s 2 8
23 Linus Lundqvist Dallara DW12-Honda 97 0 +0.000s 1m01.130s 2 7
Romain Grosjean Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 82 0 DNF 1m01.900s 2 6
Marcus Ericsson Dallara DW12-Honda 52 0 DNF 1m01.909s 1 5
Sting Ray Robb Dallara DW12-Chevrolet 33 0 DNF 1m02.290s 1 5
Marcus Armstrong Dallara DW12-Honda 25 0 DNF 1m01.877s 0 5



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