Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden praised the performance of his championship rival Scott Dixon who claimed his sixth Astor Cup on Sunday at the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series season ending Firestone Grand Pix of St Petersburg. Newgarden went into the race knowing it was going to be a tough challenge for him and the No.1 Hitachi Chevrolet with them being 32 points behind Dixon.
Newgarden started the race from eighth place on the grid and took his fourth win of the 2020 NTT IndyCar Series however this was not enough for him to defend his championship with Dixon coming home in third place to win the championship by 16 points.
Speaking following the race, Newgarden commented saying:
Congrats to Scott (Dixon) and his guys on his crew. It’s big time to win six championship so I’m sure they’re thrilled. They were great competitors. It’s bittersweet. On one hand, I really don’t know what I’d do different this year and I don’t know what I’d ask my guys to do different. They were flawless – fastest in the pits all year long and they were rewarded for it earlier this weekend by Firestone. I’m extremely proud to drive for my team – not just my car but all the Team Penske cars combined, all the engineers, all the mechanics. They’re an incredible crew that puts in a lot of work. We just came up short and that’s all it is. We just weren’t able to get it done but we’ll reset and we’ll hit ‘em harder next year and I promise you we’ll be in the fight. Thank you to Hitachi and Team Chevy. You know Team Chevy was the engine to beat today and I think all year long so big credit to them. We were just a little short on points but we’ll come back harder next year.
Simon Pagenaud in the No.22 Menards Chevrolet came from 12th place on the grid to finish the race in sixth place and speaking following the race the Frenchman commented saying:
That was a good finish for the Menards Chevrolet. It was survival of the fittest out there today. At one point, I said on the radio that there could be many, many more cautions and there was. We just couldn’t get in a race rhythm. But we were able take advantage of all those other people’s mistakes and put ourselves in position to have a good finish. All weekend, the car was really good – I think it was better than even sixth where we finished. But I’m pretty excited to build upon this for next year. All-in-all, good weekend. It was also good to see the fans back at the track. We finished St. Pete, just a few months after the fact.
It was a disappointing day for polesitter Will Power in the No.12 Verizon Chevrolet as the Australian was forced to retire from the race and speaking following the event he commented saying:
I just lost it. Just lost it. My rear bottomed, and had a moment. Earlier it didn’t downshift for some reason. It did it a couple of times. Then I started downshifting really early. I don’t know what happened. I have a feeling I made a mistake by putting that vent on the top. That loses performance and downforce. I should have run it in warm-up. It wasn’t bad out there with the vent obEn so I wouldn’t have had those issues. The downshift, I don’t know what that was. Very strange. It just didn’t go down gears on that corner to fourth or third and that is how Rossi got me, and then Herta attacked all for position. Just frustrated with me making a mistake and hitting the wall. The car got loose and very frustrating. I shouldn’t be the only one crashing. My bad for putting us out of the race. Bad situation.
Scott McLaughlin in the No.3 Shell V Power Nitro Plus Chevrolet described the race as the best of his life despite retiring from the race and speaking following the event he commented saying:
Best day of my life except for my wedding. The Shell V-Power Nitro+ INDYCAR was going really well then I just made a move trying to block Marco. Then I felt like I made a half of a rear lock, but I’m not exactly sure. Cold tires caught me out a little bit. But I had a lot of fun today,
McLaughlin won’t have long to wait to get back behind the wheel of an IndyCar as he will take part in the end of season test at Barber Motorsports Park next week to prepare for the 2021 NTT IndyCar Series season as he transitions to the series full-time.