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Josef Newgarden redeems at Road America, earning Million dollar bonus

In just the eighth round on the 2022 NTT IndyCar Series calendar, Josef Newgarden rallied to the finish line for his third victory on the schedule, earning a brand-new bonus from PeopleReady’s Force For Good Challenge. The prize awarded Newgarden a $1 million dollar bonus to split upon three ways — half to a charity of his choice, then the remaining to his Team Penske No. 2 Chevrolet team and himself. The 31-year-old took the bonus after netting a win on a third different type of circuit — winning at the Texas Motor Speedway oval in March, the Long Beach Grand Prix street course in April, and Sunday’s win at a permanent road course at Elkhart Lake’s Road America.

Newgarden crests turn five throughout Sunday’s 55-lap affair at Road America. (Picture Credit: Chris Owens, IndyCar / Penske Entertainment)

Newgarden’s bonus prize was just one of the many headlines in yesterday’s Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America — the longest venue of any in the campaign this season. The Tennessee driver held off last month’s Indianapolis 500 champion Marcus Ericsson on the final restart for his second win at the Wisconsin staple. Ericsson overtook polesitter Alexander Rossi on that final restart to take the middle step of the podium, leaving Rossi to fight with a pair of Andretti Autosport teammates for the final position — which he miraculously did just ahead of Romain Grosjean and Colton Herta.

SeriousFun Children’s Network (of the SeriousFun Camps) and Wags and Walks of Nashville, TN. were the reciepent charities chosen by Newgarden, as he poses with the $1 Million check from PeopleReady. (Picture Credit: Joe Skibinski, IndyCar / Penske Entertainment)

Ericsson’s leap into second-position on-track, helped the Swede regain the top position in the series’ championship — mainly aided by a series of issues for three championship contenders. Most notably, including the defending race winner in Elkhart Lake and series champion, Alex Palou, was eliminated from the race early Sunday.

Palou was taken out on lap four in the fifth turn — one of the ninty-degree corners that make up the 4.014-mile beast in the Elkhart forest. On a restart, Palou’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate in Ericsson dove underneath the Spaniard for a late pass, and the No. 8 at first cleanly got through, until Palou continued to steer his NTT Data No. 10 in the exit of the corner, and two very slightly made contact — Palou’s left front wheel to Ericsson’s right rear — immediately breaking the toe link for Palou, sending his disabled Honda in the sand trap.

Post-race, Ericsson apologized for the contact and result of Palou’s race. Meanwhile, after being checked and released from the care center, Palou, didn’t agree with the contact, seemingly to hint that he can also play games to that degree against the ex-F1 driver. The No. 10 car lost ten laps for repairs, continued for 32 more laps before retiring from the race early.

Pato O’Ward’s championship hopes this season took a drastic implication after an expire engine ended the young Mexican drivers race ten laps from the checkered flag. While racing inside the top-10, O’Ward frantically radioed to his crew about the ailing power unit, but his Arrow McLaren SP No. 5 Chevrolet was dead in the water, and IndyCar race control was forced to retrieve his ailed machine. With the caution displayed, it led up to back-to-back late race restarts.

Will Power entered the race weekend as the championship leader, however, found himself at the back of the pack for the majority of Sunday’s race after a run-in with rookie driver Devlin DeFrancesco. Power, who qualified in 15th position, ran DeFrancesco’s Andretti Steinbrenner No. 29 wide exiting turn three on a lap eight restart. The two continued battling firecly through turn four and into five, where contact was made from the front wing of the No. 29 into the rear of Power’s No. 12 Chevy. Power spun into the outside wall but carried on after being restarted by the AMR Safety team, and nearly lost a lap for a replaced front wing.

Ericsson, Newgarden and Rossi all celebrate on the podium Sunday afternoon. (Picture Credit: Chris Owens, IndyCar / Penske Entertainment)

Power was red with anger at first, but post-race cooled off, keeping the status quo of a new “Will Power” the last handful of seasons. The now veteran Australian driver did not exchange words (as of NBC Sports’ post-race coverage Sunday afternoon) with the rookie Canadian-Italian driver, who has had a series of collisions this season already. DeFrancesco took the checkered flag, ironcially, just ahead of Power, depsite being penalized twice in the race — once for the avoidable contact with the Penske No. 12, and another for exceeding pit lane speed limits during a pit stop.

Power salvaged a 19th-place finish, his worst of the season in the eight rounds thus far. Up to this point in the campaign, the Verizon-sponsored pilot had no finishes outside the top-four excluding an off-performance in the Indy 500 with a 15th. Power falls to second in the championship as a result, 27 behind Ericsson.

2022 Sonsio Grand Prix at Road America Results

1: Josef Newgarden (2) – 23rd Career IndyCar Victory
2: Marcus Ericsson (8) – 3rd Podium Finish this Season
3: Alexander Rossi (27) – 2nd Straight Podium Finish
4: Romain Grosjean (28)
5: Colton Herta (26)
6: Felix Rosenqvist (7)
7: Scott McLaughlin (3)
8: Graham Rahal (15)
9: Scott Dixon (9)
10: Christian Lundgaard (30) – R
11: Callum Ilott (77) – R
12: Simon Pagenaud (60)
13: Jack Harvey (45)
14: Conor Daly (20)
15: Takuma Sato (51)
16: David Malukas (18) – R
17: Rinus VeeKay (21)
18: Devlin DeFrancesco (29) – R
19: Will Power (12)
20: Kyle Kirkwood (14) – R
21: Simona De Silvestro (16) – IndyCar Road Course return in Nine Years
22: Helio Castroneves (06)
23: Dalton Kellett (4)
24: Jimmie Johnson (48)
25: Tatiana Calderon (11) – R
26: Pato O’Ward (5)
27: Alex Palou (10)

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