Newgarden prevails over McLaughlin in Team Penske Texas shootout

Josef Newgarden pipped Scott McLaughlin by .0669s to win in a final lap shootout in the Xpel 375 at the Texas Motor Speedway and score the 600th win for Team Penske.

McLaughlin dominated the 248-lap event, leading 186 laps after starting P2 on the grid. The New Zealander set the early pace ahead of polesitter Felix Rosenqvist.

A mechanical issue from Alexander Rossi’s No. 27 Honda brought out an early yellow on Lap 12. McLaughlin blitzed the field on the restart and rolled off a dominating first stint ahead of Rosenqvist.

He prevailed following the first round of pitstops on Lap 56 and came out 12 seconds ahead while Newgarden leaped from 10th to 2nd on the pit exchange.

A yellow flew on Lap 98 as Takuma Sato contacted rookie Devlin DeFrancesco before sliding into the Turn 1 wall. That brought the field to the pits again, but McLaughlin defended his position while teammate Will Power moved into second ahead of Newgarden.

That kicked off a chain of yellows which slowed the next 50 laps as first rookie Kyle Kirkwood spun off Turn 4 on Lap 114. The field tried again on Lap 129, but Devlin DeFrancesco clipped the right rear of Graham Rahal and then collected Helio Castroneves.

The race finally restarted on 148 with McLaughlin still in control. Newgarden overhauled his teammate on the restart for 2 laps only to surrender it back to McLaughlin with Will Power tagging along.

Meanwhile, Rinus VeeKay sliced through the pair and took the lead on Lap 159. VeeKay held the point for 5 laps before Power boldly passed VeeKay and McLaughlin in Turn 1 on Lap 164.

Power slowed the pace in order to save fuel and handed off the lead to Marcus Ericsson on Lap 184. The final round of pitstops kicked off on Lap 192 with McLaughlin leading the Penske trio down pit lane for four tires and fuel.

McLaughlin cycled out to second in the queue behind VeeKay while Ed Carpenter, Callum Ilott, and David Malukas took turns leading with off sequence stops. McLaughlin moved past VeeKay on Lap 205 and assumed the lead of the race as Ilott pitted a lap later.

VeeKay dropped down the order while Newgarden chased down McLaughlin. McLaughlin’s lead flexed just under half a second as the pair navigated lapped traffic.

The final lap came with McLaughlin holding the pace until Turns 3 and 4 when Newgarden took the high line and drew just ahead of his teammate to take the checkered flag.

Ericcson ended the day third ahead of former Texas winners Power in fourth and Scott Dixon in fifth. Sixth place was a remarkable run for 7-time NASCAR Champ Jimmie Johnson. Johnson improved from 18th on the grid and sifted his way through the field to claim his best career IndyCar finish in his first oval start.

Former champions Alex Palou and Simon Pagenaud took seventh and eighth while Santino Ferrucci put in a good substitute role to take ninth. VeeKay fell to tenth by saving fuel on the final stretch.

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