July 15, 2024
Texas IndyCar winner Newgarden admits he felt race “slipping away”

Newgarden dominated the first half of the 250-lap race around the 1.5-mile track, but following the second round of pitstops, O’Ward got around the #2 Penske and pulled away to a seven second lead, lapping everyone up to and including third-placed Romain Grosjean of Andretti Autosport

However, a timely caution pulled the McLaren back into Newgarden’s sights and he was also able to backtrack his car changes, and overhaul O’Ward and Palou for the win.  

“We were getting beat pretty significantly in the middle of the race,” said Newgarden who scored his 26th IndyCar win and his third at Texas Motor Speedway. “I thought at the beginning of the race we had him super covered. The car was good, track gripped up.  

“I asked for some progressions on the set-up. They were not right for the way the track was trending. I think Pato went the right way. He did the exact opposite of what I was doing! They were telling me what he was asking for. We were bad in the middle. He snuck back up on me. I had a big gap. He snuck up on me, was walking away. 

“I was like, ‘We just need to get through this stint and catch back up. He had such a lead at that point, it was going to be difficult. The caution 100% brought us back into it. We got the car back to where it needed to be. When we were in position, we could get the job done… 

“In the end he was just as good. It could have gone either way, in my opinion, between our cars.” 

Newgarden explained that the vastly improved racing at Texas was largely down to increased downforce and the erosion of the PJ1 [traction] compound that was applied to Turns 1 and 2 before the 2020 race. 

“There’s a lot more load on the cars,” said Newgarden. “The entire last stint, I was flat the whole time, flat for the first half of the stint. It’s a big jump from last year. That’s definitely factor number one. 

“I think factor two is just the track seemed better this year… It was less dark in the area where the PJ1 has been applied. It didn’t seem as low grip initially as times when we’ve been here in the past. 

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“Even when everyone tried the high line running, it wasn’t like you ventured up there just to start out and it’s really low grip. Pretty much immediately when we went up there, it was OK grip. I think that was much more inviting for people to have more downforce. We were able to more successfully apply rubber to it from our cars. 

“I think all of that contributed and led to the type of racing that we had today.” 

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