Josef Newgarden Wins at St. Petersburg

The 2019 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is in the books and Josef Newgarden was standing atop the podium after the first checkered flag of the new NTT IndyCar Season was waved.

Was this the most scintillating race I’ve ever seen? Far from it. It was even one of the more boring races I’ve seen at St. Petersburg for the last several years. But don’t blame Newgarden for holding everyone off. He was just that good today.

The race started off like it was going to one of those crazy days. First, two-time defending race winner Sébastien Bourdais went out on Lap Eleven, but he was able to keep the car out of harm’s way and the race remained green. But on Lap Twenty, Ryan Hunter-Reay’s engine let go in a big way just at the end of the main straightaway. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen an engine blow in such a spectacular fashion. It was even more impressive than when Fernando Alonso exited the Indianapolis 500 two years ago.

Then on Lap Twenty-Six, there was more craziness that those watching at home can probably describe better than I could. I only saw the replay once on the video board I was looking at from my vantage point at the track. But it looked as if Matheus Leist brushed the wall hard enough to end his day, but it got worse when Ed Jones came around the corner at speed and clipped the car of Leist – putting Jones out of the race as well.

The cleanup for that crash took an unusually long time (eight laps). When the green flag flew on the restart, you figure another yellow was not too far off. The race stayed green for the rest of the day.

I took the following video with my phone of the first lap under green after the restart. By the time they got back around to me between Turns Nine and Ten, they had already been racing for more than half a lap. But what a backdrop for a race!

On Lap Fifty-One, Newgarden effectively took the lead for good – other than pit-stop shuffles. And he began slowly pulling away and ended any drama on how the race would end.

I foolishly thought on Friday that Team Penske was struggling out of the box for the 2019 season. Silly me! Will Power won the pole, Newgarden started on the Front Row, Newgarden won the race and Power finished third, behind second place Scott Dixon. What’s the morale of that story? Never count out Team Penske.




So congratulations to Nashville native Josef Newgarden for starting the season off with a victory and consequently being the early points leader in this very young season. Thanks to Susan for snapping the shot of Team Penske in victory lane and of the podium. I got the champagne spray.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my usual “Random Thoughts” post, including more thoughts on this event and the race itself. Thanks to everyone for following along this weekend.

George Phillips

4 Responses to “Josef Newgarden Wins at St. Petersburg”

  1. Talón de Brea Says:

    Looks like a real Tennessee Invasion this weekend … Maybe Newgarden should take you along to every race on the schedule.

    You can’t expect a Texas-type finish at St. Pete, but I think you would agree that street races — in spite of some limitations — can be really fun to attend. As with any race, except maybe the New Orleans Grand Prix, “you had to be there …”

    I look forward to your further comments on the race and your weekend.

  2. since NBC lost the video long enough, and we had the first
    rain-free Sunday this year, we went walking with our dogs.

  3. billytheskink Says:

    Thanks for covering the weekend for us, George.

  4. BrandonW77 Says:

    I think once you watch the replay you’ll maybe change your opinion on the race. I know you don’t get the full picture when you’re at the track but I found the race to be very entertaining with lots of good action and differing strategies. I enjoyed it a lot.

    You have the Jones/Leist incident flip-flopped. Jones clipped the inside wall which shot him hard into the outside wall. When Leist was coming through he couldn’t see the wrecked car and clipped it with his rear left wheel which broke the suspension and sent him into the wall as well.

    Thanks for the reports and photos from the race!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: