Josef Newgarden

Josef Newgarden said before the Pocono INDYCAR 500 fueled by Sunoco that he'd attach a grade of F to the first half of his Verizon IndyCar Series season. Round 11 of 18 on the 2.5-mile tri-oval July 6 could translate to fun, fantastic and front-running.

Newgarden, whose No. 67 Hartman Oil/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car made contact with the Turn 1 SAFER Barrier on a qualifications warm-up lap, started last in the 200-lap race. But on Lap 188, the 23-year-old Tennessee native was leading the field for the third time in his three seasons.

He remained on the point until having to pit for fuel on Lap 194 and finishing eighth for his second top 10 of the season. The 13 positions gained were a field high for the fastest (202.402 mph) 500-mile race in Indy car history.

"It was a big strategy race," Newgarden said. "Considering nobody did much passing and because it was more of a track position, fuel mileage and strategy race, I thought we did a really good job of keeping up and making the moves when we needed to. That helped get us into the top 10."

Newgarden accrued 49 points in double points race and moved two positions to 18th in the championship standings.

"We're still not completely satisfied because we come to these races to win, but still being in the front half of the field is very good, and particularly because it's a double points race," he said.

The seven laps led were the most of his career. In mid-April, he led Lap 54 of 80 at Long Beach and led Lap 40 of 200 in the 2012 season finale at Auto Club Speedway.

Scott Dixon, who won the 2013 race at Pocono, advanced 10 positions relative to starting spot to finish fifth in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car.