Newgarden clinches maiden IndyCar title in Sonoma finale

Tricia Pearson
September 19, 2017

Concern should have been even greater in that it was four-time series champion Scott Dixon, a notorious finisher who swiped the championship from Penske's Juan Pablo Montoya at Sonoma two years ago, just one place behind.

Newgarden made several attempts to get by his teammate until Cindric got on the radio and firmly reminded him that that he didn't need to win the race to win the championship.

Newgarden is only the second American in 11 years to win the IndyCar title.

"Once we got clear track, we were able to hunt them down but all day, as soon as we got in traffic, the auto just got really loose".

Starting from pole position Newgarden skipped clear off the start while the rest of his Penske teammates fought each other without contact.

But 2016 series champion Pagenaud's aggression - he twice missed the chicane at turn nine, kicking up dirt as he drove through the grass - and his bold strategy of four pit stops proved the difference.

Will Power gave Team Penske a podium sweep by placing third whilst Scott Dixon finished fourth for Chip Ganassi Racing to clinch third in the standings, 21 points behind Newgarden. NBC Sports' commentators noted that nearly all of Newgarden's push-to-pass capacity was left at end-something that's nearly unheard-of for an Indy race.

Josef Newgarden pipped the Kiwi to the 2017 title in Sonoma.

Josef Newgarden lost the battle but won the war.

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After a few harsh words, Lackey returned to the mound, and his 3-2 pitch was hit into center field for a run-scoring single. Contreras apologized to Baker before Saturday's game. "I don't have any concerns on my part at all", Contreras said.

The Sonoma victory went to Team Penske's Pagenaud - taking the season finale victory for the second straight year - with team-mate Newgarden in second place, just one second adrift as they crossed the finish line. I am so proud of my team, said Newgarden, age 26 of Nashville, TN. I think it's got the whole world in front of it.

"That's the most I've ever pushed in an IndyCar race", he added. "We crashed out of a few as well and they are all valuable points", he said.

Pagenaud said having a homegrown champion was good for the series.

His four-driver team entered the final race of the season - the September 17 GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway - with each driver having a legitimate chance at the championship.

Newgarden drove seamlessly from pole, leading 41 laps of the 85-lap race on the 2.385-mile (3.84 Km) Sonoma Raceway.

"So cool", said Newgarden as he stepped out of the vehicle.

"To me, I see it on a very upward motion today, and we're going to do everything we can in order to support that from a Team Penske perspective". There was a lot to gain and a lot to lose, and to be able to win the race and end up first and second in the points is a big day, for sure.

The other two main title contenders never featured right up at the front and instead spent a good part of the afternoon hovering around each other, with Dixon eventually finishing fourth (and third in the standings) ahead of Castroneves.

At one time, it was Sam Hornish, Jr. - but his success came at a time when Indy vehicle racing was deeply fractured in a split between two series - CART and the old Indy Racing League.

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