Race Weekend Central

Late Collision Derails Josef Newgarden’s Late Charge at Long Beach

While chasing down Scott Dixon in Sunday’s (April 21) Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, Josef Newgarden figured he only had to worry about the six-time IndyCar Series champion.

However, the defending Indianapolis 500 winner instead had to deal with a late challenge from Colton Herta. The pair had contact in the hairpin causing Newgarden’s car to have a momentary power loss exiting the corner with eight laps to go

The No. 26 Andretti Global Honda moved up to second while the No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet fell to fourth. Try as they might, neither driver improved their positions as Dixon pulled off his 57th victory of his IndyCar career.

As for Newgarden, there was a lot of angry feelings after the 85-lap race around the 11-turn, 1.968-mile street circuit. The Tennessee native was catching Dixon, who was on an alternate fuel strategy after making a pit stop under an early full-course yellow. By staying out, Newgarden ran long for his two pit stops and stopped for the final time on Lap 58, seven laps after Dixon’s final stop.

With fresher tires and no need to save fuel, Newgarden began to close the gap to Dixon. From 5.3 seconds on Lap 62, the two-time IndyCar champion was within a second of Dixon after seven laps of running. Dixon strategically used his push-to-pass boost to maintain a small lead over Newgarden as Herta and Alex Palou gradually began to close up to the leading pair.

As Newgarden went through the hairpin to finish Lap 77, Herta’s nose bumped the rear of Newgarden’s car. The contact caused Newgarden’s car to briefly stall, compromising his drive out of the corner giving Herta an opportunity to get second place.

Both drivers saw the accident from conflicting perspectives. Newgarden wanted race control to assess an avoidable contact penalty to Herta while Herta was adamant that the contact wasn’t his fault.

“He just stopped in the middle of the corner,” Herta said over the radio to the pits.

“I mean I don’t know, it seemed pretty obvious [Herta] misjudged it and ran into me,” Newgarden said on pit road after the race. “Once I got lifted I went into anti-stall, I got lifted up off the ground a foot or two and I couldn’t get going. You have to wait for the clutch to disengage and get the thing reset so I was kind of stalled there for a second.”

See also
Scott Dixon Does It Again, Wins Long Beach Grand Prix on Fuel Mileage

Herta was a bit more reflective after the race.

“I think [Newgarden] set up pretty wide and was cutting back in so he was a little bit slower at apex, but ultimately it’s up to me to carry the right speed into the corner and not to run into the back of people and I just misjudged it,” Herta said. “It would’ve been fine, I think he hit anti-stall coming out of the corner and that’s what really bottled him back, but yeah, definitely something to put in the back of my mind. I don’t like to race like that, especially a guy like Josef who I have a lot of respect for.”

Newgarden remains atop the IndyCar points with his fourth place finish. Dixon is second in points, 12 behind Newgarden while Herta is third, three points behind Dixon.

About the author

Christopher DeHarde has covered IndyCar racing and the Road to Indy for various outlets since 2014. In addition to open wheel racing, DeHarde has also covered IMSA and various short track racing events around Indiana. Originally from New Orleans, DeHarde moved to the Indianapolis area in 2017 to further pursue a career as a motorsports writer.

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