Newgarden salvages top 5 finish for Penske in Sunday’s Indy 500

INDIANAPOLIS — Team Penske said all month that they had great race cars, just not so much qualifying speeds. They weren’t worried. That’s what they were selling us. Most bought it. Unfortunately for them, we needed to sell.

Penske finished 11-14-22 in Sunday’s 104th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Their trio of drivers starting 22nd or worse went off strategy early. It didn’t work. Scott Dixon, Alexander Rossi and Takuma Sato were too good and they were ahead of the three Penske’s even off strategy as them.

Josef Newgarden was their best bet. He started 13th in his No. 1 Chevrolet and was hovering around the top 10 for much of the day. Then, as drivers started taking themselves out of contention, Newgarden got better.

The defending series champion had an uneventful day in a fifth place result. It was his second straight top five here and fifth top 10 in his last six starts.

“It’s disappointing, for sure,” Newgarden said. “Our Shell V-Power Nitro Chevrolet was fast. It was really, really good. We were just taking our time.

“My boys in the pits were on it today. They made us up spots on every single pit stop. We put ourselves in position there at the end of the race, which is all you can ask for.

“We actually came in with Sato on that last stop and maybe we should have went one lap longer. But in the end, we were a little behind the eight ball on the final stint. We were working to unhandcuff ourselves.

“I’m proud of everyone, though; they fought hard. I can’t thank Shell and Team Chevy enough for all the support they give us. We just didn’t have what we needed. We were in position but couldn’t capitalize to take advantage of it. Congrats to Takuma (Sato) on the win. Just wish we were up there battling him for it.”

Still, he just had nothing for the win as he’s now 0-for-9 here.

With Dixon’s big day, Newgarden now trails Dixon by 84 points at the halfway point of the season. If he’s going to win his third title in four years, he needs a lot of help.

Newgarden, does have six top 10 finishes in eight races this year too, but only two of them have resulted on the podium. Dixon, has five top two’s by comparison.

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