O’Ward gets Carlin call-up for Road America

Patricio O’Ward’s rookie season with Carlin Racing will continue at Road America.

Facing uncertainty after depleting his limited budget in May, the 2018 Indy Lights champion raced most recently at Detroit with the support of team sponsor Gallagher Insurance, and will resume his part-time campaign this weekend in Wisconsin wearing the company’s colors on the No. 31 Chevy.

“It’s exciting – I’m even more excited that it might be a wet weekend,” the 20-year-old told RACER. “We’re trying to keep everything as positive as we can and trying to find more sponsors, step by step. I want to thank Trevor Carlin and ‘Chilly’ Chilton and Gallagher for their faith in me, and making it possible to keep racing this weekend while the search keeps going for more sponsors.”

O’Ward, who signed on as a member of Red Bull’s Junior Driver development program last month, visited the Red Bull Racing team during Formula 1’s recent stop in Canada. Efforts to secure a Super License – needed to participate in F1 – continue in the background while the native of Monterrey, Mexico, looks to extend his NTT IndyCar Series season as far as possible with Carlin.

“We’re going to Road America, and then we’ll have a couple of weeks to see what we can hopefully come up with to do Toronto,” he added. “That’s only as far as we can look at the moment.”

Formula 1, NASCAR Cup Series, IndyCar and Formula E: A rare weekend off

This weekend is a rare weekend during racing season, as Formula 1, the NASCAR Cup Series, IndyCar and Formula E all have off. Rarely can we say that none of Formula 1, the NASCAR Cup Series, IndyCar and Formula E are in action on a given weekend, but this weekend, Father’s Day Weekend, is one […]

Formula 1, NASCAR Cup Series, IndyCar and Formula E: A rare weekend offBeyond the FlagBeyond the Flag – Your #1 Destination for Motorsports News and More

INSIGHT: Newgarden, 2 crew in perfect sync

On the days where Josef Newgarden has lacked front-running pace, his Team Penske pit crew, engineers, and strategists have lifted the NTT IndyCar Series points leader to impressive heights.

A three-time race winner from nine rounds in 2019, Newgarden’s five podium visits have, at times, had more to do with the No. 2 Chevy’s supporting cast than the young star working the steering wheel and pedals.

Motivated by a team-first approach, the 2017 IndyCar Series champion hails his race strategist, Penske president Tim Cindric; his race engineer Gavin Ward; crew chief Travis Law; and everyone attached to the effort that has the Tennessee native positioned to vie for his second IndyCar title.

“These guys are incredible. They really are,” he said. “Tim is the man. In my opinion, he’s one of the best, if not the best, strategists on pit lane; and we have the entire crew to support that, whether it’s the engineers that are pitching in and helping create those decisions or the team executing on pit lane — everything that we’re doing, we’re really in lockstep.”

Newgarden’s win Saturday night’s DXC 600 at Texas Motor Speedway was another strategy-fueled effort where the No. 2 Chevy employed an alternate approach to pit stop timing that allowed the 28-year-old to pounce late in the 248-lap event.

“Honestly, we game-out everything before the race, as much as we can,” he explained. “You have to adjust. There’s always changes. You can’t be locked into one thing or another. But we try and look at everything that could possibly happen, and then we have some scenarios put in place. The really cool thing is, when we have all our strategy meetings, for the most part, what we talk about generally comes to fruition. It’s crazy.

“I don’t know how this always happens, but we will talk through some different scenarios and most of the time one of the scenarios we talk about ends up happening. So we end up following the procedure that we laid out beforehand and it just ends up working out.

“The preparation is incredible and the guys executing and their ability to adjust on the fly when they need to and they see something happen such as a caution or whatever it is — they’re just so good at adjusting and making the right call. This year they’ve just nailed it.

“I hope that we don’t change,” Newgarden continued. “I hope they continue to have their mojo because they have been on it and I’ve just been trying to do my part as well to support that. So far it has been clicking fantastically this year.”

Creeping into the conversation after Takuma Sato, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Scott Dixon led the majority of the Texas race, Newgarden takes much delight in playing the role of spoiler.

“Well, first off, what I love is, I think we continue to surprise people in races, which is great,” he admitted. “That actually puts a smile on my face because we go about our work very well, but we’re a little bit stealthy by doing it. I can tell you this, though: If you want to know how, it’s all out there in detail. If you go look at the analytics, it is there to be seen and you will understand easily why we were able to do what we did.

“It starts with having a fast car — you’ve got to be quick at the right points in that race. What we did strategy-wise, and where we positioned ourselves from a fuel standpoint on our second-to-last pit stop, enabled us to be in a position when everyone pitted to run quick laps; to have the best in-lap; to have the best pit stop; and then to leapfrog to the front and just capitalize on that attack mode.

“We were willing to attack when everyone was on defense, trying to make enough fuel.”

Once the No. 2 Chevy was out front, Newgarden wasn’t entirely sure he’d be able to stay there. The misfortune of another contender and a lack of grip in the second lane would eventually tip the win in his favor.

“With Rossi on the restart, it really started with Scott Dixon,” he said. “And I was very nervous about that. Normally, when the weather cools off and the cars become draggier, that’s when it’s very difficult to hold people back — especially on a restart — and I was really nervous with both Dixon and Rossi, once we got going, if I was going to be able to hold them going into Turn 1. Fortunately, we held just enough to where it didn’t become a problem.

“But, Alex was so good that night and so was Dixon,” Newgarden reflected. “If Dixon hadn’t got caught up in the incident with Colton , then I think it would have been a battle with him. And Colton and Rossi — I mean, it just would have been hard to hold anybody off. But our car out front was where it needed to be. In traffic, we suffered a little bit more than others, but out front, our car was very good. And as long as no one cleared me then I thought we were going to be just fine.”

 

Robin Miller’s Mailbag for June 12, presented by Honda Racing / HPD

Welcome to the Robin Miller Mailbag presented by Honda Racing / HPD. You can follow the Santa Clarita, California-based company at: hpd.honda.com and on social media at @HondaRacing_HPD and https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD.

Your questions for Robin should be sent to millersmailbag@racer.com. We cannot guarantee we’ll publish all your questions and answers, but Robin will reply to you. And if you have a question about the technology side of racing, Robin will pass these on to Marshall Pruett and he will also answer here. 

Q: Just wanted to point out for all of us die-hards who love to bitch over the last few decades that Texas ended with American drivers P1 through P5. The racing was awesome and it was not a pack race. Amazing performance for an American rookie who could have easily won (Herta). Another solid drive from another American rookie (Ferrucci). Great rivalry brewing between two American drivers who are now veterans and have another decade (at least) of racing against each other (Newgarden and Rossi). And even Marco finished in the top 10!

Clint, Chicago

RM: I was getting ready to interview Graham Rahal on NBCSN after the race and he looked up at the scoring tower and said: “Americans sweep the top 5, when’s the last time we saw that? Very cool.” Well the last time, according to NBC stat guru Russ Thompson, was in the next-to-last IRL race of 2001, when it was Jaques Lazier, Sam Hornish, Eddie Cheever, Jeff Ward and Donnie Beechler. Now Wardy was born in Scotland but grew up in California, so I count him as an American. If you don’t count him as a Yank then it was Gateway the race before, with Al Unser Jr., Mark Dismore, Hornish, Cheever and Robbie Buhl.

Q: Scatter-shooting after attending Saturday’s race: Herta made a fan out of me, having the only stones in the field to use the outside of Turns 1&2. Scratching my head why Rossi didn’t at least try it once versus Newgarden in the late stages? Dixon/Herta was a 50/50 deal, but surprised Dixon conceded the way he did and Herta took little to zero fault for it. Much better race than last year, hope everyone enjoyed it. We need more ovals in the series. Aren’t you glad the FIA doesn’t officiate IndyCar?

Aron Morgan

RM: Herta is something else and was the star of the show, but he and Dixie were racing hard, going for the same spot, and it was avoidable but more of a racing accident than anyone’s fault. Rossi would have tried but never got a good enough run going into Turn 1. That b.s. call in the F1 race made me wish A.J. would have been in Vettel’s place, or at least owned his car. Can you imagine that post-race interview and podium ceremony?

Q: I thought the race at Texas was one of the best of the year. Colton Herta was doing some unbelievable passes until the contact with Dixon. What is it about Texas that seems to make exciting racing more often than not?

John Montgomery, Medford, OR

RM: The corners are a little more open than some 1.5-mile ovals and a second groove is usually possible, but Texas seems to bring out the aggression in drivers when it gets dark. And most seemed to think IndyCar’s aero change made for a good show. It wasn’t non-stop passing like the Hanford Device or stuck together like a pack race, you had to get your car working or take some chances (or both) to make passes.

Q: That was other solid race between Herta and Dixon. No one cut the other off, it was a fair fight. Respect to the two that race insane speeds. So to the point, IndyCar is just insanely good, but what do you think about Herta and Dixon?

Paul Angel

RM: I guess Colton could have backed off or Scott could have moved up, but then that kinda defeats the purpose of going for it, doesn’t it?

Q: Miller you have preached for years IndyCar needs a big rivalry. Right now it looks like Rossi vs. Penske. That’s OK, but I’m starting to see Rossi vs. Newgarden. It is becoming pretty clear that this will be the championship fight. If Penske is not able to steal Rossi, we could have a long-term rivalry. Newgarden impresses me more and more every week. Yes he drives for the best team, but no matter what issues the team is having, he ends up a factor in the end. I had to go back and re-watch the race again just to understand how he pulled out the win. Yes, it was a great call from the team to get him in position to have a chance, but it was his driving and refuse-to-lose attitude that won it.

I think the front-runners really overlooked him since he had not been running with them throughout the entire race. Very impressed with the rookies. Ferrucci with another great run. Herta, wow, Andretti had better go find some money. Ericsson is starting to find his stride. Lastly, a big shout-out to Conor Daly. I’m sure he is not happy with how the car ran, but to take a car that was not fast enough to qualify for the Indy 500 and finish 11th and only one lap down, that’s like a podium finish in my book. As an IndyCar fan, we can’t ask for much more this season. The racing has been great with plenty of storylines to follow!

J.R. Rouse

RM: That’s why it’s imperative that Rossi stays with Andretti, like I wrote last week – don’t break up the balance of power, and IndyCar needs to hope its current Big 3 lineup stays intact. JoeNew is a threat to win any race, and possesses a great temperament in the car that helps if things are rocky at the start. Daly did a marvelous job under the circumstances, while Ferrucci and Ericsson drove smart and smooth for their first test at Texas.

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The Week In IndyCar, June 11, with Josef Newgarden and James Hinchcliffe

It’s fun episode of The Week In IndyCar following the Texas event won by our opening guest, Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden, and closes with the Mayor of Hinchtown, James Hinchcliffe.

Both offer their thoughts on the controversial Montreal Formula 1 penalty that ensnared Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton; Newgarden offers insights on the strategy and handling characteristics that led to his most recent victory, tells the story behind his role in the bizarre bondage-themed ‘Milk Veins’ 2014 Indy 500 video, and does his best to reveal the origin story of The Chalice of Excellence. Newgarden also, at the request of a listener, talks smack about championship rival Alexander Rossi.

Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports’ Hinchcliffe lays the groundwork for the NBA Finals bet between himself and The Week In IndyCar host Marshall Pruett, explores the rotten luck he’s experienced this year, compares the stresses of Indy 500 Bump Day 2018 and 2019, and bids farewell by revealing his biggest on-track pet peeve.

The show closes with Pruett answering listener questions submitted via social media.

Segments:

Josef Newgarden (starts at 14m00s)
James Hinchcliffe (1h11m44s)
MP Q&A (1h51m50s)