NEWTON, Iowa. — Pato O’Ward won the HyVee Salute To Farmers 300 on Sunday at Iowa Speedway, inheriting the lead after Josef Newgarden wrecked from the lead late in the race.
O’Ward’s win follows up a second-place finish to Newgarden in the first race of the doubleheader weekend on Saturday to Newgarden.
“The guys in the pits were awesome,” O’Ward said. “I think that’s what got us the win. Super stoked, super happy. We knew we had a great car, it was just about capitalizing when it counted.”
Off of the win on Saturday, Newgarden had a chance to take the lead in the season championship standings. It appeared Newgarden would, in fact, do that after taking the lead from pole sitter Will Power on Lap 53 of the race.
After that first round of pit stops, it turned into a Penske duel between the two teammates. While that battle was ensuing, Jimmie Johnson was moving through the field after having started 13th. He was up into the top five by Lap 62.
Through the first 100 laps, Newgarden and Power were setting a blistering pace, putting all but eight drivers a lap down.
The first caution came on Lap 119, when Kyle Kirkwood lost control and wrecked heading into Turn 1. On the subsequent green flag stops around Lap 190, O’Ward was able to overtake Power for second place thanks to a swift pit stop from his Arrow McLaren SP pit crew.
Newgarden kept on leading, appearing all but assured of a second straight win through Lap 230. He also appeared poised to take over the championship lead, running six points ahead of points leader Marcus Ericsson at that point.
However, on Lap 238, disaster struck as Newgarden’s right rear suspension appeared to have broken, sending the rear of the car into the wall and terminally damaging his car. A shocking turn of events, based on Newgarden’s reaction to the wreck.
“A bit of a shock,” Newgarden said. “I want to cry. I don’t know what happened. It’s just one race, I don’t know, something went wrong there. Everything felt fine to meet. There was a vibration at the start of the stint, but that’s pretty normal. it caught me by surprise.”
Newgarden had again put most of the field a lap down when his wreck happened.
After the race, Newgarden is said to have collapsed in the bus lot of Iowa Speedway and taken to a local hospital with a head injury from the fall, says Dr. Geoffrey Billows with IndyCar. He was awake and talking with medical staff once he arrived at the hospital, according to social media posts by the NTT IndyCar Series.
It would be the final caution flag of the day as O’Ward inherited the lead, made one last pit stop for tires, and then cruised in to lead the race’s last 61 laps to take his fourth career race in the NTT IndyCar Series.
“Hopefully we can win a couple more,” O’Ward said. “That would be fantastic. We’ve had a great year, but we’ve dumped two wins. This is the perfect momentum we need going into the month of September and August.”
The result moves O’Ward into fourth in the championship standings. Because of Newgarden’s wreck, Marcus Ericsson (finished 6th) leaves the weekend at Iowa still in the lead in the points, but only just as Power’s two podium finishes in a row has moved him to just 8-points behind Ericsson in second. Scott Dixon is quietly tied for third with Newgarden 34-points back.
As for Jimmie Johnson, he battled Ericsson to the end for the fifth spot and came home with his first top-five finish in his career in IndyCar.
“This is a special day for me, and everyone who’s been on this journey with me,” Johnson said. “It took me to get on the ovals to get my best finishes, and today was just a fun race. I feel like a podium was within our reach.”
Just five races remain in the season with the series returning home to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this coming weekend for the Gallagher Grand Prix on the IMS road course. They will share the weekend with the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Cup Series.