Josef Newgarden, Penske, IndyCar, Laguna Seca, 2019

Herta wins again as Newgarden clinches second IndyCar title


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Josef Newgarden has won the IndyCar championship for the second time after Colton Herta won the final race of the season at Laguna Seca.

Newgarden finished a lowly eighth after a tough race on the series’ return to the Californian road circuit.

Herta led the race convincingly from pole position, resisting pressure from Scott Dixon in the opening stages and Will Power later on. He took the chequered flag half a second ahead of the Penske driver to take the second victory of his rookie season.

While Newgarden slipped back from his second row starting position, his Penske team mate and title rival Simon Pagenaud made a series of forceful moves as he rose up the order in pursuit of the title.

Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi, another title contender, passed Newgarden following the first round of pit stops. Newgarden, struggling for rear grip and anxious to avoid any costly contact, drove a cautious race to collect the points he needed to seal the title.

With his final pit stop, Pagenaud emerged between net leader Herta and Dixon, but couldn’t keep the Ganassi drive behind on cold tyres. Then Power, who had already let Pagenaud by earlier in the race, jumped ahead of him and Dixon for second place.

Pagenaud recovered one place from Felix Rosenqvist, but ran out the final laps of the race testing Dixon’s defences as he tried to take third place. The pair finished the race in sight of the leaders, just six seconds up the road.

Fifth place for Rosenqvist won him the Rookie of the Year honours ahead of two-time race winner Herta and Indy 500 top rookie Santino Ferrucci. The Dale Coyne crashed out of the race during a restart, colliding with Takuma Sato.

Rossi, who arrived at Laguna Seca as the closest threat to Newgarden in the championship, faded to sixth on a poor day for Andretti. Sebastien Bourdais took seventh place off Newgarden in the closing stages having climbed his way forward from 19th.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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6 comments on “Herta wins again as Newgarden clinches second IndyCar title”

  1. Herta’s career is going to be fascinating to watch. He learns so quickly from one race to another. The main worry with this race was managing the tires because the track surface is about on par with Portland for wear and lack of grip. He managed the tires pretty poorly at Portland, but one race later he’s staying in front of Scott Dixon for most of the race, probably the best driver in Indycar in terms of tire and fuel management.

    The great thing is, he’s not the lone standout rookie in this season. Rosenqvist has been impressive, Ericsson has done pretty well considering the massive difference between F1 and Indy cars, and Ferrucci has been genuinely surprising. I honestly expected the same immaturity from Ferrucci to surface before long after his idiotic flame out in Europe, but it’s been the opposite. Maybe he took the lesson to heart because aside from his brake lock up today and a couple other minor mistakes throughout the season, he’s had a remarkably cool head in races. It’s going to be fun watching these new guys contend with the old masters next year.

  2. Disappointed for Rossi, he’d put up a good fight all season, but you have to say Penske were the form team all year so you can’t begrudge them that championship win.

  3. Very good race at a trace that’s hard to pass. Congrats to Newgarden, Herta and rosenqvist!

  4. Good Race. Herta will be a champion in the future. Wonder if he ever gets a shot in F1.
    Was pulling for Rossi but he really was bad at managing his tires and therefore was never able to get up front. Pagenaud had the best chance to take the championship away from Newgarden but Dixon raced as well as he always does. Hoping for Herta to mess up and Newgarden to retire. So no reason for him to let Pagenaud go by.
    Newgarden did what he had to do but it could have all blown up in his face. Wonder if he was just Very worried of getting tangled up with someone and getting damage or just had a bad race or struggled with the tires.
    But congrats to him for winning his second Championship.
    Glad Indycar is back at Laguna Seca.

  5. Rossi was not getting help from his teammates. There was nothing he could do.

    Newgarden and Herta should deserve a shot at Formula 1 in the near future.

    But the rookies became the best crop ever in 2019. This group will never be surpassed.

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