Josef Newgarden Eclipses IndyCar Field With Dominating Victory at St. Petersburg

josef newgarden st petersburg celebration win indycar
Josef Newgarden Dominates in IndyCar 2024 OpenerNTT IndyCar Series

Josef Newgarden has started the 2024 IndyCar season with a statement win at the Firestone Grand Prix at St Petersburg. Last year, Newgarden finished fifth in the championship race, his worst season since 2018. While the Penske driver collected his first Indianapolis 500 win last year, the 2023 season was filled with lows.

Newgarden has one goal for the 2024 season... it’s championship or bust. In January the driver unfollowed everyone on Instagram in an attempt to focus solely on family and racing.

It quickly paid off as Newgarden narrowly captured the top of the 'Firestone Fast Six' during Qualifying on Saturday.

Before Saturday, Newgarden had not won a pole position since Detroit 2022, when the series was still racing on Belle Isle. Last year he started on the pole at Gateway but he inherited that pole from teammate Scott McLaughlin who had to change his engine between qualifying and the race.

“I didn’t know this would come today,” Newgarden said about his pole. “I just thought, ‘Look, let’s through Round 1, let’s get through Round 2 and see what we can make happen in the Fast Six. Really proud of this team. This is a rock star team.”

While Newgarden only edged Felix Rosenqvist by.0058 of a second in qualifying he would create far more space between himself and the rest of the field in Sunday’s IndyCar season opener. Newgarden took his victory 7.9121 seconds ahead of the field.

This was Newgarden's third win at St. Petersburg and his 30th win in IndyCar. This was also his first win on a road course since Road America in 2022.

Newgarden only surrendered the lead for pit stops and ran a dominating race in St. Petersburg. The two-time NTT IndyCar champion protected his advantage on every restart while defending against Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward and his teammates McLaughlin and Will Power.

“I feel very relaxed right now,” Newgarden said. “I was really excited initially, and then it calmed down those last 10 laps. We can move on from here and at least enjoy this first victory.”

For the second year in a row, O’Ward fell one spot shy of a win at St. Pete but at the end of the day marooned in a sea of Penske the driver was lacking the last burst of speed to propel himself to a victory in the season opener.

“I think it's a very solid foundation to what is going to be a very tight, very competitive rest of the year,” O’Ward said. “I think the Penskes were just too strong for us today.”

IndyCar will return on March 24 for The $1 Million Dollar Challenge at The Thermal Club. This will not be a points-paying race but instead IndyCar's answer to NASCAR's Annual All-Star Race.

Drivers will return to championship competition on April 23rd for the Grand Prix of Long Beach.

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