Josef Newgarden earned a $1 million bonus on Sunday for winning at Road America, where his third win of the season completed a trifecta of victories on IndyCar’s different circuits. Newgarden had won previously on the oval at Texas as well as the street course in Long Beach, so he headed to Road America searching for a road course win that would make him the first IndyCar driver this season to win on all three circuits.
The reward was a $1 million payout from The PeopleReady Force for Good Challenge, which split the bonus between Team Penske and charities of Newgarden’s choice. The American selected Wags and Walks of Nashville and SeriousFun Children’s Network. It was the first year of the challenge and claimed before the halfway point of the IndyCar season; Newgarden is the only driver with multiple wins through eight of 17 races.
Newgarden beat Indianapolis 500 winner Marcus Ericsson of Chip Ganassi Racing by 3.371 seconds following two late restarts, but Ericsson reclaimed the points lead with the runner-up finish.
Alexander Rossi, the Andretti Autosport driver who started on the pole in search of his first win in three years, finished third and was followed by teammates Romain Grosjean and Colton Herta.
Chevrolet won the race with Newgarden, but Honda took the next four spots. Felix Rosenqvist of Arrow McLaren SP and Scott McLaughlin of Penske were sixth and seventh for Chevy.
Newgarden had a 2.8-second lead over Rossi when Pato O’Ward’s engine failed with six laps remaining to set up the first late restart. Then Helio Castroneves spun for another caution.
Newgarden got a great jump on Rossi on both late restarts and never looked back.
Rossi had his hands full first with Ericsson, and then with his own teammates, as his losing streak extended to 45 races. His pole-winning run Saturday was his first in three years.
Newgarden won for the second time at Road America, but he was headed toward the win a year ago until his gearbox failed in the closing laps and it handed the win to reigning IndyCar champion Alex Palou.
Palou’s chances of defending last year’s win vanished almost immediately due to an early tangle with Ganassi teammate Ericsson. When Ericsson made a move to Palou’s inside, the right rear of the Swede’s car made contact with the front left of Palou’s, and the Spaniard went off course.
“He was trying to win the race on the third lap,” Palou said. “The car broke. That’s it. Game over.“
Will Power, meanwhile, dropped from the IndyCar points lead because of his own early incident. A poor qualifying effort put Power in 15th at the start and he was hit from behind by rookie Devlin DeFrancesco just eight laps into the race. Power ended up 19th.
DeFrancesco received a stop-and-go penalty for making avoidable contact, and Power dropped to second in the standings, 27 points behind Ericsson.
O’Ward’s engine failure dropped him from third to fourth in the standings; Palou dropped from fourth to fifth. The win for Newgarden, meanwhile, moved him from fifth to third in the points.
Seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson had a frustrating day because of contact with Tatiana Calderon at the back of the pack on the first lap. Johnson went off course to bring out a full-course yellow. He finished 24th.
Calderon was in the field with Simona de Silvestro, marking the first time an IndyCar event has included two female drivers since de Silvestro and Pippa Mann entered the 2015 Indianapolis 500.
There’s a two-week break in the IndyCar schedule before the July 3 race at Mid-Ohio in Lexington, Ohio. Newgarden won at Mid-Ohio last year.