If this was the final race at Texas Motor Speedway, the photo finish sure made it a memorable one.
Josef Newgarden used a thrilling pass on the final lap of the race to beat his Penske teammate Scott McLaughlin to the line by 0.0669 of a second. It is the 21st career win for Newgarden and the 600th for Team Penske across all racing programs.
“I was fuming in the car because we had all this traffic and it wasn’t helping me,” Newgarden said in victory lane. “And then right when I needed it to help me, literally last corner, last lap! I think Scott led 95% of the laps, I hate doing that to a teammate.”
To Newgarden’s point, McLaughlin did lead 186 of the 248 laps on Sunday, but not the most important one. He now has two runner-up finishes at Texas in his three starts. He was trying to win the first two races of the season after taking the checkered flag at St Petersburg a few weeks ago. That feat has only been accomplished once (Dixon, 2020) since the 2010 season. “Second is a great day, unfortunately we led a lot of laps and at the end of the day we lost it,” McLaughlin said. “But if you’re going to lose it to anyone, your teammate’s the guy you want to lose it to, so credit to Josef and the PPG team.
It was nearly a 1-2-3 sweep for Penske, as Will Power finished 4th on Sunday. It was Marcus Ericsson that earned a 3rd place finish, as his Chip Ganassi Racing teammates finished behind them. Scott Dixon finished 5th, Jimmie Johnson scored a career-best 6th place finish, and reigning series champion Alex Palou came home in 7th. Rounding out the top ten were Simon Pagenaud, Santino Ferrucci, and Rinus VeeKay.
Ferrucci filled in for Jack Harvey in the No. 45 Honda for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing after he was not cleared by medical professionals after his big crash in practice yesterday. Ferrucci filled in admirably and was the only bright spot for the RLL team this weekend. All three drivers qualified at the rear of the field on Saturday and rookie Christian Lundgaard made contact with the wall late in the race and finished 19th.
Graham Rahal had a close call early in the race but wasn’t so fortunate later when he found himself in the middle of a three-wide battle with Devlin DeFrancesco and Helio Castroneves. The rookie made an ill-advised move going under the white line in Turn 4 and slid up into Rahal, who collected Castroneves.
It was also a weekend to forget for Andretti Autosport. Alexander Rossi’s bad luck continued when he was penalized for jumping the start of the race. His No. 27 Honda then came to a crawling stop just 12 laps into the race. His teammate Romain Grosjean had smoke coming out of the back of his No. 28 machine, ending his day. The two finished 26th and 27th with DeFrancesco’s wrecked car coming home in 24th. Colton Herta was in position to fight for the win until an issue with his front-left tire on their final pit stop took him out of contention.
David Malukas had a solid outing in his first oval race, finishing just outside of the top ten. Ed Carpenter and JR Hildebrand both had decent runs in their season debut. Carpenter was driving a third ECR Chevrolet while Hildebrand was behind the wheel of the No. 11 Chevy for AJ Foyt Racing. His teammate Kyle Kirkwood had a fantastic run going early in the race but a spin after a restart sent him hard into the outside wall.
What looked like a promising day for Arrow McLaren SP quickly went south after Felix Rosenqvist qualified on pole and Pato O’Ward inside the top ten. Both drivers had trouble on pit road, with O’Ward hitting a pit crew member. Rosenqvist had his day end early with a mechanical issue and O’Ward finished in 15th position.
Round 2 is officially in the books and drivers will have to wait a few more weeks before they can strap back into their cars. The next stop on the calendar will come at the historic Long Beach circuit in California. Coverage for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach begins at 3 PM ET on NBC.