Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden in the No.1 Verizon Chevrolet for Team Penske took his first victory of the season at the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix at ISM Raceway.
The Tennessee native who started the race from seventh place made his way to the front taking advantage of a late caution to get around Robert Wickens on the restart with for laps to go to claim his first Phoenix win. Speaking following the race, Newgarden said:
The team did such a good job. “The car was good, the strategy was better, the pit stops were the best. I’m really proud of them and what they did. I think they deserved the win tonight.
I think we were a top-five car tonight, for sure. “But I struggled a little bit with the balance, so it was difficult for me to force the issue until we got to the end when I had a tire advantage.
“I knew I could force the issue. I kind of bided my time for that. I was trying to be calm tonight and make it to the finish.
Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Robert Wickens had another fantastic race following his pole position at the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg. The Canadian started Saturday night’s race from sixth place and came through to front trading places with team mate James Hinchcliffe a number of times to claim his maiden Verizon IndyCar Series podium with a second place finish.
Alexander Rossi followed up his strong race in St Pete with another great performance as he ended the Phoenix Grand Prix on the podium in third place having started the race from fourth place and speaking following the event he said:
The only reason I was able to do that was because the team gave me an unbelievable car. “As I said, we spent so much of our time and brain effort and research in the time between the (February) open test and (race weekend) focusing on tire life. Hopefully, it’s something that we can keep an advantage on people going forward for the next short ovals.
“You’ve got to take the podiums when you can get them. Unfortunately, we probably gave away a win today, but that’s the way it goes.
It was a great race for Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon in the No.9 PNC Bank Honda as the Iceman came through the field from 17th place on the grid to finish in fourth.
Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter Reay in the No.28 DHL Honda ended the race in fifth place just ahead of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports James Hinchcliffe who capped off a great weekend for the team in sixth place.
In his first race of the season, team owner Ed Carpenter came through the field to finish the event in seventh place having started from 18th place.
AJ Foyt Racing’s Tony Kanaan in the No.14 ABC Supply Co Chevrolet end the race in eighth place showing that the team have done a great job with the car for this season. The Brazilian ended the race just ahead of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Graham Rahal in the No.15 One Cure Honda.
Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud who took the win here last season rounded out the top ten in the No.22 Menards Chevrolet.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s Takuma Sato in the No.30 MiJack Honda finished the race in 11th place just ahead of his former Andretti Autosport team mate Marco Andretti in the No.98 Oberto/Circle K Honda.
Pole sitter Sebastien Bourdais had a disappointing race as he finished down the order in 13th place after coming in a for pit-stop at an odd angle he hit one of his mechanics. The mechanic was uninjured but as a result of the contact the Frenchman went down the order and was unable to recover positions.
Ed Carpenter Racing’s Spencer Pigot finished the race in 14th place in the No.21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet just ahead of Harding Racing’s Gabby Chaves in the No.88 Chevrolet.
Andretti Autosport’s Zach Veach made his way from the back of the field in 23rd place to finish the race in 16th place just ahead of Carlin Racing’s Charlie Kimball and Max Chilton. Following an incident on pit-road where a tire was not secured properly to his car, Mathues Matt Leist in the No.4 ABC Supply Co Chevrolet for AJ Foyt Racing as the Brazilian finished the race in 19th place and was the last driver running.
Following a promising qualifying, the race ended in disappointment for Ed Jones in the No.10 NTT DATA Honda as he was forced to retire from the race 22 laps from the end of the race.
Juncos Racing’s Kyle Kaiser on his debut in the Verizon IndyCar Series was forced to retire from the race as was Team Penske’s Will Power in the No.12 Verizon Chevrolet following contact. Dale Coyne Racing’s Pietro Fittipaldi also retired from the race in the No.19 PaySafe Honda.
Next up for the Verizon IndyCar Series is the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach next weekend.