Josef Newgarden overtook multiple race winners Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power in breezing into second place before the 23-car field crossed the start/finish line to complete Lap 1 of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama.

“We tried to be aggressive,” he said. “You have to be when you’re going up against guys like Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon.”

It set the tone and the 24-year-old driver of the No. 67 Hartman Oil CFH Racing Chevrolet delivered his first Verizon IndyCar Series victory.

“This is the way I wanted to do it. I didn’t want to win on some crazy incident, or on luck,” said Newgarden, who started fifth and held off the charging Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing by 2.2061 seconds over the exciting 90 laps on the 2.3-mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park road course. “This team deserves it. They gave me an incredible car and let me get out there and rip with the thing and pass people on pure merit.

“We’re going up against the giants, but I think this team can be a giant one day. Today was a good day and we need to have more of these. I told my dad after the race, now I can say that I’ve won one Indy race. Of course, we want to push harder and go after more wins now, but I’m just so happy right now for everyone to get this.”

Carlos Huertas, driving for Dale Coyne Racing, was the most recent first-time winner, at Houston last June.

Newgarden is the fourth different winner from four teams in as many races in 2015, matching the start of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season that produced an Indy car record-tying 11 different winners in 18 races.

The other winners so far in the 16-race season:

*Juan Pablo Montoya, Team Penske, Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
*James Hinchcliffe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana
*Scott Dixon, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

There have been nine different drivers who have scored podium finishes and 12 with top fives. Montoya maintained a three-point advantage over Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves, who has earned the Verizon P1 Award the past two races, in the championship standings. Dixon, a three-time Verizon IndyCar Series title-holder, is 13 points out of first and Newgarden bolted to fourth.

“You don’t mess around in the IndyCar Series,” said Newgarden, whose previous best finish was second at Baltimore in 2013 and Iowa Speedway in 2014. “You’re not going to get in one of these cars, be up front with these type of guys. If you’re not on your game, you’re going to get swallowed up quick.

“In early parts of a championship, you can get settled in on taking it easy, making sure you secure points, get good results, not wreck the car, not get too antsy at the start.”

Next up is the May 9 Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Pagenaud won the inaugural race in 2014.

“Our focus right now is to try to keep this momentum, have a really good run at the grand prix,” said Rahal, who recorded his first podium finish since Belle Isle 1 last May. “Hopefully we have a good test next weekend with the (speedway) aero kit. But this team is what’s making the difference, and I think it’s showing.”


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