Defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Josef Newgarden drove the No. 1 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet to a statement win in the heat of the championship battle, winning the INDYCAR Harvest GP presented by GMR Race 1 Friday, Oct. 2 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Newgarden took control of the race on Lap 60 of 85 as the two-time series champion pressured Colton Herta for the lead on old tires. Entering Turn 1, Herta locked up the tires and overshot the corner, handing the lead to Newgarden.
“I don’t think I can think about the race; I’m so excited to be up here on this platform,” Newgarden said. “I wish I was up here with The Captain (Roger Penske). Thank you to everyone that came out. We had a rocket ship. I knew we did yesterday in qualifying. I was so surprised by how quick the car was. It was a great fight today. It was strategy, it was close combat, it was everything you wanted in an INDYCAR race, and I had the quickest car.”
Alexander Rossi scored a career-best finish on the IMS road course with a second-place finish in the No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS / AutoNation Honda, 14.294 seconds behind Newgarden, and pole-sitter Rinus VeeKay scored his career-best NTT INDYCAR SERIES finish with a third-place finish in the No. 21 SONAX Chevrolet. Herta, who led 29 laps, finished fourth in the No. 88 Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Honda, and Felix Rosenqvist rounded out the top five in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
With the win, Newgarden, who is second in the series point standings, took a 31 point chunk out of Scott Dixon’s point lead and now sits 40 points behind the five-time series champion with two races remaining in 2020.
Newgarden’s big points day was assisted by a lackluster performance from Dixon, who won July’s GMR Grand Prix on the IMS road course. Dixon was running seventh with two laps to go, but pressure from Graham Rahal in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda forced an unusual error. Dixon went off course in Turn 7 and lost two positions, finishing ninth.