NEWTON, Iowa – Josef Newgarden defined his runner-up finish in the Iowa Corn Indy 300 presented by DEKALB as “unorthodox,” which is about as good as any description of how he rose from running 11th with eight laps left and advancing 19 positions over the 300 laps on the .894-mile oval.
The result was a season best and tied the third-year Verizon IndyCar Series driver’s career best at Baltimore last September.
Home in Indianapolis, team co-owner Sarah Fisher might have let out a shout loud enough to wake her newborn son.
Her husband, race strategist Andy O’Gara, called in Newgarden for fresh tires on Lap 284 under caution – as did Andretti Autosport race strategist Michael Andretti for eventual race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay – and that made all the difference in the closing laps after the Lap 292 restart.
Newgarden’s Honda-powered No. 67 entry with the Wichita State University logo prominently displayed on the sidepods and a group of university engineering students in the grandstand, climbed to third by Lap 296. He recorded the fastest lap of the race (180.029 mph; 18.067 seconds) on Lap 298 and overtook Tony Kanaan, who had led 247 laps but whose tires were wearing quickly, on the final lap.
“Just really happy about the call we made. That was great,” said Newgarden, whose eighth place at Pocono on July 6 and Barber Motorsports Park in April had been his season high. "It was like a video game at the end pretty much. Sometimes you have to make good calls to make that happen.
“It was crazy how effective new tires were compared to 30-, 35-lap tires. I knew TK was running flat there at the end. It was almost easy. It was cool that it worked out. I didn’t think it was going to be that good, but it ended up being incredibly good at the end.”