Team Penske's Josef Newgarden drove a strategic and borderline lucky 600 kilometers at the Texas Motor Speedway for Saturday night's DXC Technology 600 race, where he successfully claimed his third victory of the year and first at the intimidating 1.5-mile oval.
The young American only led 45 laps near the end of the race after a series of pit stops and yellow flags promoted him from the middle to the front of the field within a matter of minutes. From then on, it was a matter of hanging on to the lead and fend off Alexander Rossi and Scott Dixon, who appeared to be the favorites to win the race after pole-sitter Takuma Sato was involved in a nasty pit stop accident that sent a crew member to the medical center.
"It's these guys (crew), man, they keep putting me out front (and) I'm just trying to get it done at the end," said Newgarden after the race. "I knew we had a rocket ship and it was all about getting in the front. He (Rossi) was fast. Both him and Dixon ran me really fair at the end. (Rossi) was good, man, he was just hard to hold off. He was so good in dirty air."
Dixon wouldn't see another podium or possible repeat win in Texas after the New Zealander and rookie Colton Herta got tangled up with exactly 20 laps to go, successfully ending both of their incredible runs during the scorching-hot 248-lap race. Despite Dixon taking the blame for the collision, replays show what appears to be an unintentional racing collision.
"(Dixon) apologized and that's what it seemed like from my point of view. I (haven't) seen a replay yet or anything, but he just turned down on me from my point of view," said Herta. "I was there and he put me on the apron. I was more than enough ahead. He didn't need to do it. That outside lane was there and he could have run the outside. He must not have known (I was there)."
This victory marks Newgarden's first oval win of the year and solidifies Penske's grip on the top step of the podium, having won five of just nine races so far in the 2019 season.
The IndyCar circus is now headed to Road America for the 2019 REV Group Grand Prix on June 22-23, where Penske and Josef Newgaden will look for back-to-back wins at America's National Park of Speed.