Newgarden and Penske win Indy 500 Pit Stop Challenge

Defending Indianapolis 500 winners Josef Newgarden and the No. 2 Team Penske crew beat Pato O’Ward and Arrow McLaren in the final of the Pit Stop Challenge, as teams finished off the Carb Day action at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Newgarden and co. delivered the fastest ever drag-stop-drag run in the second of a best-of-three to clinch the $50,000 prize ahead of Sunday’s 108th running of the greatest spectacle in racing.

At the start of Round 1, Alexander Rossi got the jump on Newgarden into the box but the No. 2 crew was quicker than the No. 7 McLaren crew, and Newgarden edged his rival 11.312 to 11.492 to the finish.


Next up it was Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing versus Katherine Legge of Dale Coyne Racing, and there was a brief delay when one of Legge’s tire changers spied a problem with his airgun. Problem solved by Kevin “Rocket” Blanch, the duel got underway. Even a relatively leisurely 12.3 was enough for Lundgaard, as Legge knocked one of her tires out of the changer’s grasp, causing a major time loss that took her out.

Juncos Hollinger Racing was guaranteed a second-round berth, as Agustin Canapino and Romain Grosjean and their respective crews went up against each other. RoGro won the drag to the box, and his crew was over one second quicker, resulting in a total time of 12.071.

Then it was time for a couple more big guns, Alex Palou of Chip Ganassi Racing against Kyle Kirkwood of Andretti Global. Both overshot their crews, but the CGR guys recovered quickest and so the beautifully colored No. 10 car progressed and Kirkwood was out.

Teammate Colton Herta then matched up with another second gen IndyCar racer, Graham Rahal, and they were even until departure from the pitbox, where Herta narrowly shaded his rival and won with an 11.954.

Meyer Shank Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist went up against his former team and teammate, O’Ward and McLaren, but was 1.3sec slower as Pato enjoyed an 11.583s run.

Starting Round 2, Newgarden went up against teammate Will Power, 2017 Pit Stop Challenge winner, and dismissed him by a full second with an 11.152, due to a slow start from Power.

Lundgaard went too long in his box, and so suffered a slow right-rear change when he met Grosjean, thus RLL lost its second entrant. The all-Ganassi battle between Palou and Scott Dixon, reigning Pit Stop Competition winner, was resolved by over a second in favor of the six-time IndyCar champion with an 11.244 run.

Next it was O’Ward vs Herta, and they arrived at their boxes even, but the Andretti driver slid too long, and that was enough to add a second to his crew’s time, so O’Ward was into the semi-finals.

The first of these was Newgarden vs. Grosjean, and although the former Formula 1 driver was quicker off the marks, the No. 2’s crew narrowly got its defending Indy 500 winner out ahead, and anyway, one of the JHR car’s wheels was loose. The same affliction struck Dixon’s crew when he went up against O’Ward, and so the McLaren No. 5 team was into the final against Newgarden, in a best-of-three competition, that was swiftly resolved.

Newgarden won the first one 11.333s vs 12.121s, then produced a 10.792 vs 12.647 to clinch. 

Story originally appeared on Racer