Scott McLaughlin had dominated the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series season, until the final lap of the Xpel 375 at Texas Motor Speedway.
McLaughlin won from the pole last month at St. Petersburg and led 186 laps at Texas on Sunday (March 20). But on the last lap, Josef Newgarden took advantage of late-race traffic to catch up to his Team Penske teammate and made a risky move to the outside of McLaughlin exiting turn 4 into the dangerous PJ1. He nipped McLaughlin at the finish line by 0.0669 of a second.
It was a 1-2 finish for Team Penske’s 600th IndyCar win and Newgarden’s 21st career victory in the series. McLaughlin still leads the point standings.
— NTT INDYCAR SERIES (@IndyCar) March 20, 2022
“Oh my gosh, I was fuming in the car at all of this traffic not helping me,” Newgarden told NBC Sports. “And then right when I needed it to help me, literally last corner, last lap, it helped me. … I hate [passing] a teammate like that, but that was unbelievable.”
McLaughlin, speaking to NBC Sports following the broadcast, was obviously disappointed but could still hang his head high.
“If you’re going to lose it to anyone, your teammate is the one you’d want to lose it to,” the McLaughlin said. “… At the end of the day, I learned a lot in this race. … I’m gutted, but pretty proud with how we ran.”
Marcus Ericsson was the only driver within striking distance of the top two and finished third, 1.3 seconds away from Newgarden. Will Power contended early in the final run but faded late and finished fourth. Scott Dixon and Jimmie Johnson battled late in the race for fifth, with Dixon winning out to finish fifth and Johnson with a career-high sixth.
There were three cautions in the race, all coming in short succession of each other. On lap 99, Takuma Sato, who had run as high as third at one point in the race, hit the wall after his left front tire had brief contact with rookie Devlin DeFrancesco’s right rear tire. Sato would continue on for a while but DNF later to finish 20th. After the restart, on lap 115, Kyle Kirkwood spun out in turn 4 after getting his right rear tire into the PJ1 while driving side-by-side with DeFrancesco.
Finally, DeFrancesco’s day ended on the next restart, where on lap 129, he tried to go three wide in turn 3 under Graham Rahal and Helio Castroneves. The violent three-car wreck totaled all three cars, but all three drivers were later cleared and released from the infield care center.
Up next for IndyCar is the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 10 at 3 p.m. ET. NBC will broadcast the event.
About the author
Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.