Heading into last weekend, the race for the Astor Cup championship trophy in the NTT IndyCar Series was looking like it likely would go through Josef Newgarden or Alexander Rossi. Only eight points separated the two in the standings heading into last Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto. No one was was within 60 markers of the duo.
Now, only four points separate the two but they’re joined by Simon Pagenaud too. Pagenaud, had a perfect weekend and gained 22 points on his Penske teammate Newgarden in one weekend. Can he keep that up?
Saturday, could be the night that Newgarden pulls even further ahead though too.
Newgarden, has five straight top six finishes at Iowa including a dominating win in 2016 and two runner-ups prior to that. Over the last four years, he’s led 623 laps including 229 last year and 282 in 2016. He also led 111 laps in 2015 too.
Josef Newgarden in last weekend’s Honda Indy Toronto – INDYCAR Media Site
With nine top four finishes in 11 races in 2019, this is the point where Newgarden can really make this an all American race for the title.
“(The NTT IndyCar Series) is maybe the most competitive series in the country and as we go further in the championship battle, we know every point counts,” said Newgarden ahead of this weekend’s race. “Heading into Iowa this weekend, we are keeping that at the forefront of our minds as we try to expand our championship points lead and compete for a shot at the title. Iowa is a track I’ve had some success at, so the team and myself are feeling pretty positive. Iowa is so unique for us because it’s a short track, so we definitely will approach it a different way than we would another oval like Texas or a street or road course. But don’t let it confuse you, it’s fast and we know we’ll have a strong Hitachi Chevy this weekend.”
Then, take a look at this competition this weekend.
Rossi, has never finished on the lead lap in Iowa before and has just four combined laps led in three starts. He’s also never finished in the top five either.
Pagenaud, has three straight top eight finishes himself but has only led 13 career laps.
Scott Dixon has just one top five finish in his last four Iowa starts and only two in his last six starts overall at Iowa. He’s never won there as his team Chip Ganassi Racing has just two wins in 12 years at Iowa.
Takuma Sato finished third last year but does have five DNF’s in nine tries at Iowa. His third place result in 2018 is his lone top 10 of his career on the 7/8 mile bullring.
Will Power may be too far out. Power, has three straight top six finishes and four consecutive top 10’s to his credit in Iowa.
With five top four finishes in his last five starts on the season and nine in 11 tries in 2019, this is Newgarden’s best chance to create some separation from the rest of the field.