O’Ward caps off IndyCar’s doubleheader with win

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NEWTON, Iowa — Pato O’Ward pounced on Josef Newgarden’s misfortune Sunday to win the second race of the Iowa Speedway doubleheader, and Jimmie Johnson had the first top-five finish of his IndyCar career.

Newgarden dominated and led 148 of the 300 laps while trying to sweep the weekend. But something on his Team Penske car broke with 64 laps remaining and he spun hard into the outside wall.

He was visibly rattled after his mandatory check in the infield care center.

“Definitely was a bit of a shot. I want to cry, so sad for my team. I don’t know what happened,” Newgarden said. “Everything felt fine to me. Totally unexpected and it caught me by my surprise. Team Penske is the best. I never have this stuff, so maybe we were due.

“We can’t afford it for this year. But we’ll fight back. We have a great team here.”

Chevrolet’s initial diagnosis was that the suspension broke on Newgarden’s car.

O’Ward actually made the pass for the win on pit road with a speedy stop by his Arrow McLaren SP team and held off Penske teammates Will Power and Scott McLaughlin for the win. It’s the second win of the season for the Mexican driver, who finished second on Saturday and remains firmly in the IndyCar title race with five races remaining.

O’Ward is fifth in the standings, 36 points behind leader Marcus Ericsson. His win halted Team Penske’s dominance on the 0.894-mile oval, where Roger Penske’s drivers had won six of the last seven races prior to Sunday.

Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing finished fourth and was followed by teammate Johnson, who raced hard with Indianapolis 500 winner Ericsson to earn his best finish through two seasons of IndyCar racing. Ericsson is also a Ganassi driver and Newgarden’s crash helped the Swede retain the lead in the IndyCar standings — making Johnson’s aggressive racing a bit nerve-racking for the Ganassi camp.

“I race my teammates with the most respect I possibly can, every race I’ve been in, I’ve given way,” Johnson said. “That was really the first time I fought for position and felt like I should have been up there passing (Dixon). Today I had it in me and I raced clean, hard, and just had an awesome day.”

Ericsson said Johnson’s experience on ovals was the difference. The seven-time NASCAR champion made 686 starts in a stock car and won 83 races.

It was another podium sweep for Chevrolet, who did it on Saturday with Newgarden, O’Ward and Power.

Newgarden was scored as the points leader at the time of his crash and dropped to a tie with Dixon for third in the standings following his crash. There are five drivers separated by 36 points in the standings, and Ericcson leads Power by eight points.

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