By: Spencer Neff
March 20, 2022
In what has become somewhat of a norm at Texas Motor Speedway, the race was decided by a narrow margin. Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden earned his 21st career IndyCar victory in the XPEL 375, passing teammate Scott McLaughlin for the win on the final corner.
At the line, the margin of victory was a scant .0669 of a second, the 22nd time in 35 races at TMS a race was decided by less than a second. Newgarden earned his first victory since last year at World Wide Technology Raceway and his second at the 1.44-mile oval (2019).
On a day that McLaughlin finished second despite leading 186 of 248 laps, Team Penske earned their 600th victory across motorsports with Newgarden taking the checkered flag.
After a practice crash on Saturday, Jack Harvey crashed during the final practice. Following a sunday morning consult with the INDYCAR Medical team, he was not cleared to drive.
With Harvey unable to participate, Santino Ferrucci was pressed into action. Ferrucci contested five races with RLLR in the No. 45 entry during the 2021 season.
McLaughlin piped pole sitter Felix Rosenqvist on Lap 1 and sped past for the early lead of the race.
Following a review from Race Control, Alexander Rossi was determined to have jumped the start of the race, moving out of position prior to the green flag.
Soon after, the Andretti Autosport driver slowed on the apron, NBC had reported electrical issues for the No. 27 car and the first caution of the afternoon was thrown for his tow-in.
After the restart, Kyle Kirkwood powered his way through the field, as the A.J. Foyt Racing rookie was able to lead his first laps during the first pit stop sequence.
On Lap 99, Sato and Devlin DeFrancesco made contact in Turn 2, forcing Sato into the outside wall. Although he made light contact, the caution flag was out for the second time on the day.
During the yellow flag stops, the issues for Arrow McLaren SP entries mounted. Pato O’Ward hit his left-front tire changer, while Rosenqvist had issues with his right-rear tire change, leaving them 16th and 17th on the restart.
Making his super speedway debut, Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean saw a Lap 112 exit following engine issues. On the Lap 114 restart, Kirkwood’s oval debut ended abruptly as he spun in Turn and made heavy contact with the wall but walked away.
The olds adage of “cautions breed cautions” proved correct as DeFrancesco and Graham Rahal made contact in Turn 3, with Helio Castroneves being collected as well. While pitting under yellow, Rosenqvist pitted and was knocked out of the race with a broken half-shaft.
The race would restart with 99 laps to go. Mclaughlin and teammate Newgarden swapped the lead over the next two laps, with Rinus VeeKay making his presence felt as he moved to second. With 89 to go, the ECR driver found his way to the front.
Five laps later, Power moved from third to first and got the lead of the race. As Fuel mileage came into play, Ericsson and McLaughlin would get past Power for the first and second spots with 65 laps remaining. With 62 laps remaining, the final cycle of green flag stops began. On Lap 207, McLaughlin was back out front.
McLaughlin’s dominant performance was under fire late in the race as lapped traffic played a factor. In Turns 3 and 4, Newgarden passed on the outside in what proved to be the winning move.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson rounded out the podium, with Power making it three Penske cars in the Top Four.
Ericsson’s CGR teammates Scott Dixon, Jimmie Johnson and Alex Palou followed as Johnson earned by far his career-best result.
Meyer Shank Racing’s Simon Pagenaud would end the day in eighth. Santino Ferrucci’s last-minute appearence yielded a ninth-place result.
Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports’ David Malukas would come home as the highest-finishing rookie of the day in 11th.
Immediately following another two weeks off, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES returns to action.
First Practice for the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach will be at 6:15 p.m. Eastern on April 8. The 85-lap race is set for April 10, with a 3:45 p.m. green flag.
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Header Image By Joe Skibinski/INDYCAR