Chevrolet Indycar at Iowa: Team Chevy Hy-Vee Homefront 250 – Chevrolet Sweeps Podium as Newgarden Claims Fifth Iowa Victory

 Josef Newgarden did what Josef Newgarden does at Iowa Speedway – wins. Starting third in the 28-car field for Race No. 1 of the Hy-Vee Doubleheader WEEKEND, the driver of the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet methodically worked his way to the lead on lap 121 and never looked back.

 

The two-time NTT INDYCAR Series champion chased down his teammate second-place starter Scott McLaughlin, No. 3 XPEL Chevrolet, to claim 2nd in the running order on lap 95 of the 250-lap race. Newgarden then set his sights on pole winner and race leader Will Power, No. 12 Verizon 5G Chevrolet. On lap 121, he made a clean pass on Power on the bottom through turns one and two and jumped out to an almost five second lead.

 

Pato O’Ward, No. 5 Arrow McLaren INDYCAR Chevrolet, completed the all-Chevrolet podium. Starting fifth on the grid, O’Ward quickly dispensed with another car and stayed in the battle with the three Team Penske drivers.

 

Today’s victory is the fifth for Newgarden at Iowa Speedway, the 28th of his career, and jumped to second in the point standings, 98 points behind the leader with six races left on the 2023 schedule.

 

Power will start on the pole for Sunday’s Hy-Vee ONESTEP 250 with McLaughlin again alongside on the front row. Newgarden will roll off 7th and O’Ward will start from 11th on the grid.

 

Race No. 2, the Hy-Vee ONESTEP 250 presented by Gatorade is set to start at 2:30 pm ET with live coverage on NBC TV, INDYCAR Radio and INDYCAR. live timing and scoring.

 

TOP-FIVE QUOTES:

JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 2 HITACHI TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET-RACE WINNER:

LITTLE FRUSTRATION THERE AT THE END, WE COULD TELL, BUT YOU DOMINATED

 

“Yeah, it was a great day. Look, my team is just…they are unbelievable. They gave me a great car. I show up every weekend and I feel like I have got the best of the best behind me.  Team Penske, I am proud to be a part of this team and proud to have partners like Hitachi and Team Chevy. Team Chevy has been really tremendous to us, and they are always working hard, even with our feedback. They always take it and put it to use.  I love Iowa and obviously it was a great day, but its tough in INDYCAR. These guys that are about to go a lap down, they always run the leader really hard and that is the name of the game.  Its legal, but man it is a little frustrating at times. And it has gotten worse.  It was much worse here than I have ever had it. So, I am going to study the tape and I am going to be better tomorrow.  Because if that is how its got to be, then I just have to elevate my game for race two.”

 

THERE WAS A TIME TODAY WHEN YOU WERE DOWN, BUT YOU FOUND A WAY

 

“Yeah, look, we did not start where we wanted to be and that was right from qualifying. I was so frustrated.  We unloaded off the truck pretty much perfectly.   Luke Mason did an amazing job with this car, and it was exactly where it needed to be and then to qualify where we did, it was…..I have messed up qualifying here so many times and it never gets easier. I am always so mad with myself that we didn’t get that right.  And it was like that at the beginning of the race. It took us literally a stint and a half to get the car just where it needed to be. But once it was comfy, I think it was the car to beat. I really do.  We needed to manage it and we did that, and it doesn’t guarantee you anything for tomorrow, I promise you that. Everyone is going to get better, and they already got much better from last year.  So, we have to stay on our toes, and maybe we can do another one.

 

 

SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN, NO. 3 XPEL TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET-FINISHED 2ND:

I WOULD SAY THERE IS NO SHAME IN LOSING TO A GUY THAT HAS WON FIVE TIMES HERE

 

“When I saw him coming, I was like ‘ah its on mate’.  Hey, Bus Bros was 1-2, so not bad.  Really happy for everyone on the Xpel Chevy.  The car was great today, and the team gave me a great car. I have to thank Josef, and congrats to him for winning the race, but during the week we sat down together and really went over like everything.  And it helped me today.  I learned a ton today, I badly want to beat that guy and I am going to be trying everything I can to beat him, but he is the epitome of a great teammate and I appreciate the help he has given me.”

 

YOU WERE DEFINTELY BEST IN CLASS, SO IS THERE SOMETHING YOU CAN BRING BACK FOR TOMORROW?

 

 

“I mucked up one of my in and out laps and got caught with a lap car, so I was a bit slower coming in and I lost a couple of seconds. So, there was all that catch up from there and we got back to sort of there or there abouts, but just really proud of everyone and thankful for everyone at Xpel and at Chevy and everyone that supports me. The Thirsty Threes were ripping, I love that, and can’t wait to come back tomorrow.”

 

PATO O’WARD, NO. 5 ARROW MCLAREN INDYCAR CHEVROLET-FINISHED 3RD:

YOU GOT CLOSE AGAIN, WHAT DID YOU LEARN TODAY TRYING TO CHASE THOSE GUYS?

 

“I learned that I couldn’t keep up with them today.  We didn’t have a strong enough car and I was holding on for dear life on some of those laps. So, it was a tough one and we have got work to do.  We have another opportunity tomorrow and we are going to try and maximize that. We have a pretty significant step forward that we have to make if we want to challenge these guys.  Specifically in traffic, I felt a little handcuffed as far as where I could place the car.”

 

IT WOULDN’T HANDLE?

 

“No, I just could really only use one lane and I couldn’t really get through traffic the way that they could.  I think when the tires were a little bit fresher, we weren’t far off, but when you start getting into that dirty air, we just couldn’t do anything.  We would just get stuck. I tried multiple times, and I am probably the first guy t

 

 

WILL POWER, NO.12 VERIZON 5G TEAM PENSKE CHEVROLET-FINISHED 5TH:

YOU WERE UP FRONT, STARTED ON THE POLE BUT BRUSHED THE WALL. WHAT WERE THE CIRCUMSTANCES TODAY?

 

“I just got a little high. The car in front went up and took the air and boom. It was a pretty square it and I was worried about how much force goes through the suspension.  We will probably have to change it tonight.”

 

THE CAR WAS OKAY AFTER THAT?

 

“Yeah, I think so. We had more push, but I don’t think it really hurt the car too bad.”

 

WE KNOW YOU ARE FAST. YOU ARE STARTING ON THE POLE TOMORROW, SO WHAT IS THE GAME PLAN AND DO YOU EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO CHALLENGE NEWGARDEN?

 

“Yeah, its tough man. It will probably be a slightly different race because everyone gets a bit better, it gets a little hotter and then you have to get through all that traffic. So, yeah, we sort of have to review.  I mean, at the end of the day it was just who got through that traffic better.  We had a huge gaggle of cars once Josef got me. I mean, he is very good at reading that stuff and he just got me on the inside.”

 

JOSEF NEWGARDEN-SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN-PATO O’WARD

Press Conference Transcript

 

THE MODERATOR: Joined by now five-time winner here at Iowa Speedway, Josef Newgarden, leading 129 of the 250 laps, driving the No. 2 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet. It’s career win No. 28.

You climb now. You’re 98 points back of Alex Palou of the overall season long championship. More importantly, another win here today. Congratulations.

What came to you there after that first stint and a half or so that you were able to get past Will and stay up front?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It was just unfortunate that we came off the truck so good — Luke Mason did such a great job with this car. I was so happy yesterday, pretty immediately, and then to qualify as disappointingly as we did, I think for us, for our expectation, if you will — it wasn’t a disaster, but it wasn’t where we thought we should be. I know it’s not where the car should be.

I was really — I’ve done that a lot here. I’ve not qualified where I think we should. That exact problem was sort of the same in the beginning of the race. We were trying to counteract it and didn’t quite get there. It took about a stint, stint and a half, to really get the car where it needed to be.

Then it was great. It was back to sort of the beginning of yesterday. It was just a nice car. Team did a great job as always. They always give me a fantastic car here. You can’t win a race around this place without having the best car in the field, and I feel like we’ve always got that when we show up.

 

Q. Josef, you were really upset, I remember, last year after qualifying. I believe you were second in both races behind Will to start. Is it the way you drive the track you’re doing wrong or setup?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It’s a combination. It was mostly setup today, which is not on anybody. I’ll say it’s on me. Like I just didn’t quite know where we needed to be.

I mean, you’re kind of guessing. We were supposed to originally qualify at 8:30. It was going to be a lot colder. So you’re basing the setup around that. Then you have to think about the race. We were also probably a little bit more lean to the race than other people because you’ve just got to choose a little bit.

The temperature is going to keep rising in the race. Do you want the race car to be right, or do you want the qualifying car? And you’re kind of in the middle a little bit. So I don’t think we were fully optimized for qualifying, but I also just didn’t get the balance right.

I would say it’s that. Last year was the same deal. I could have done better personally last year. I didn’t drive hard enough, so I was kicking myself for that. I felt like I drove hard enough today. I just didn’t have the balance I needed. We were pretty upset about it, but we knew we’d have a chance in the race.

We’ve got a great car. We knew that right from the jump. It was just a matter of I felt like we could do more today. Even leaving now, we’ve got a lot of homework tonight to be even better. It was good, but it wasn’t quite good enough. It’s going to need to be better tomorrow is my feel.

 

Q. Yesterday you were telling us how you went a step beyond being a teammate to Scotty and shared everything about this track, and he was explaining that after qualifying today that you reviewed every lap he made and every lap you made last year. Did you have any regrets about that in the closing laps and knowing he was breathing down your neck at some points during this race?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I mean, I knew he knew everything. I tried to be as transparent as I can with him as a teammate. He’s been — he’s a great member of the team. He’s a good pal. I want to kick his ass as much as anybody. It’s got nothing to do with that, and I’m not giving him any favors necessarily. I just think it’s the right thing to do.

If your teammate wants to learn something, I hope he would give me the courtesy the same way. When he’s got something on me, I want him to teach me it. I think that’s how it should be. You don’t always get that, but I’m happy to teach him what I know.

I look at it that it doesn’t really matter — if he knows exactly what I know, then it’s just going to come down to who’s doing a better job. If he does a better job than me, then he deserves to win. I hope he doesn’t do a better job than me tomorrow, but if he does, he’ll be a deserving winner. Let’s see what happens. He looked really good today. I’m going to probably have to step up a little bit more tomorrow.

 

Q. In Victory Lane, you were obviously upset with some of the lap traffic today. Pato and Scotty were both in here and shared your concerns about that. Are you going to name any names for us? Anyone you want to call out in particular?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: There’s a lot of people. There’s a lot of people. It’s one thing if you’re leading the race. If you’re leading the race, you’re really within your right. If you’re fighting with people around you, seventh, eighth, ninth place, you’re all fighting. You’re within your right to fight as hard as possible.

I think, the way the rule was written, it’s also legal for them to fight to the death to stay on the lead lap in front of the leader. It is legal. I’m just telling you you’re not making any friends when you do it. There’s 20 laps to go in the race, and I was getting driven like it was literally to the death for the end of the Indy 500. It was just crazy. I couldn’t believe the way people were mirror driving.

I’ve never seen it that bad here. Normally if you’re the leader, you’re not getting a handout, but you’re at least getting the courtesy that you are the leader and you’re about to get lapped. You don’t have to pull over, but just don’t be aggressive and weave in front of the leader, block the leader, chop the leader.

Like there’s just a point where you’ve got to understand that that comes back around. If you do that to someone, I’m going to fence you the next time I see you. If you’re the leader the next time, I am going to do you so dirty if you did that to me.

It’s common sense. Everybody in the paddock knows it, and they’re just — for whatever reason, there’s just people who just can’t get it. You know what, if they can’t learn it by now, they’ll probably never learn. I guess where I’m going with this, you can tell I’m frustrated by it, which a lot of people are. I can’t change people’s behavior. If they’re going to continue to do that, I have to study and figure out how to counteract it because that’s how they’re going to play.

I’m going to assume they’re going to play like that tomorrow, and I’ve got to be in a better position and better equipped handle it.

 

Q. Scotty said he might go talk to some people tonight.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I’ll go talk to some people too. They need to know. Look, it’s not cool. It’s not cool. If you want to play that game, that’s fine, but you should be thinking long term.

 

Q. Josef, you said earlier the car was good. Nevertheless do you think the car has enough to win tomorrow?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It’s definitely in the window, there’s no doubt. The tough thing about Iowa is the window is so tight here. You can have a stint where you’re really good and a stint where you all of a sudden lose a ton of potential and time on the average, and it’s really easy to bounce back and forth between perfect and way off perfect.

I think the car’s in the window. We’ve just got to maybe clean some areas up. I’ve got to get some new tools in my toolkit, figure out how can I arm myself a little bit better for the way everything is flowing nowadays?

Everyone is stronger. It looks like that. Everyone has more maneuverability. Everyone is getting coached by their spotters now on exactly how to race people hard. So it is a tougher game than I think it’s ever been around here.

Our car is capable. We’ve just got to make sure we maximize it.

Q. So much of the history of Penske Racing has been drivers who are great oval drivers like Al Unser and Rick Mears and now yourself. To be in that category, and when you win on an oval race for Team Penske, how special is it?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I don’t really feel differently about it than any other track, to be honest. My goal is to be strong everywhere. It doesn’t matter the discipline or the track type. I want to be good everywhere we show up. If there’s a place we’re not good, it’s number one on my list to figure out. Why aren’t we good here? Why can’t we win this race?

Anything is possible for us and our team, and we need to approach it that way. So just in short, it doesn’t feel different to me, whether it’s Iowa or it’s Toronto or it’s Detroit or Road America. They all matter. You take great pride in being able to work with the team and put a victory together. They’re all difficult.

It’s not easy to win a race in this series, so they all feel the same.

 

Q. Obviously the goal is to come here tomorrow and win again. How do you feel the prospects are coming out here and getting out the broom?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I was hesitant yesterday to — I feel like everybody — when we walk in here, they just assume, oh, we’re going to be quick. It’s not the attitude that you can have. You just can’t feel like there’s anything given. I think we did a good job today recovering. I was really proud of the team.

To feel disappointed with qualifying and then to just really improve the race car and do a great job today, I’m proud of that, but that doesn’t guarantee tomorrow either. I think Scott’s going to be really good. Pato, he’s going to come back better. I think Will’s going to be strong. You never know who else is going to improve overnight.

I’m focused on being better tomorrow because I’m going to assume that everyone else is going to pick up their game.

 

Q. Obviously laser focused, and obviously frustrated about the traffic and stuff like that. I don’t know if you feel like you’re putting more pressure on yourself this weekend because of maybe your own expectations and what everyone else is expecting you to do. When you come into this place, it feels like you’re quite pent up at the moment. Is that the pressure you’re putting on yourself for this weekend?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Maybe a little bit. There’s a pressure that’s on us, I know when we show up here. It’s that assumption. It’s the assumption that we’re going to be great just because we should be. We’re the 2 car. We should be really good here.

That’s okay because I think there’s always a pressure that exists. You show up to Indianapolis with Team Penske, and there’s only — there’s only one place that people accept as okay for Team Penske, and that’s winning the race. We deal with those pressures. It’s not like it’s something new.

But I think, more than anything, it’s just been — it’s honestly been a really tough year, like we’ve had some good moments, there’s no doubt. Obviously the 500 was just — it was the best moment for everybody this year. Other than that, it’s been a really tough season, really, really tough. It just feels like one of those grinders again. We grinded last year.

I want to figure out how to get us in a place where we’re not grinding and try to figure it out week to week. I’ve got all the confidence in the world. The tough thing for me is I know the potential of the team, I really do. It’s there. It’s always been there, and I just want us to realize it more.

We’re continually working on that. For me, I’m just a perfectionist, and I think working towards that potential and maximizing it is what you’re seeing from me.

 

Q. Have you thought about the points at all in terms of what today means for that? And if you allowed yourself to kind of think about that? Or is your focus solely on tomorrow and trying to keep that out of your mind?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yes and no. I’m very aware of it. I’ve seen it climb from the beginning of the season. Alex has had a great run. He’s really had no bad races. I explained this in the past that, when you’re a great driver like Alex and he’s got a great team around him and you don’t have any bad races, that is what happens points-wise. You build up a cushion the way they have.

It’s a tough deficit that we’re in. I’m aware of it. I’m not putting any pressure on this weekend or to the end of the year. It kind of is what it is, right? I can’t control what happens with Alex. I think the odds are higher that he has some bad luck at some point, but that doesn’t mean it’s ever going to come. It just may be a great year for those guys where they don’t ever truly see it, and that’s okay.

I’ve just had to learn over the years that you can’t control these things. You really can’t. I focus on trying to be the best that we can be every weekend. This weekend’s no different. It’s just you’re dealing with that scenario that you brought up that everyone expects us to be really good here and win a couple of races. I know that.

Regardless of that, I just try to make sure we do the best job. We did the best job we could today, and we need to do that tomorrow.

 

Q. I was going to ask about points as well. Just following up on that, you were 126 out coming in, and now you’re 98 out. You took 28 points off today. Is that a good chunk? If you do that tomorrow, do you feel good about leaving here?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I do. That’s a great chunk. You win another time, what does that put you at, I don’t know, 72? That would be great. That would be great. We’re going to for sure need that.

You can’t spin this any way. I’m not telling myself a story to make myself feel better tomorrow. There’s no doubt we have to win a lot of races, and Alex has to inevitably at some point hit bad luck. It’s just the way this whole thing goes. If that doesn’t happen, then we’re still going to focus on winning races, and hopefully we have a lot of wins on the year and we get close. Or maybe just winning a bunch of races and he doesn’t need the bad luck, and that’s enough to get us the championship.

I have no idea how this is all going to play out, but yeah, tomorrow — they all matter at this point. What is there, six to go? They’re all going to be critical. We can’t afford a bad weekend anymore. He can, but we’ve got to be pretty much perfect, which when it’s like that, it just almost doesn’t matter. Like what’s going to be is going to be. I think a lot of people are in this mindset. They’re just trying to win races.

It’s kind of a good way to go about it because you can’t just take little bites out of him. It’s just not going to work. You’ve got to be hitting it with a hammer and hoping that fate kind of swings back your way. So I hope we get that, but there’s just no telling if that’s going to happen.

 

Q. Speaking of the hammer, do you feel like you need to hit two nails this weekend? It seems like you’re having trouble celebrating this win because you feel like you’re only half done. Is that accurate?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think that’s very accurate because you’ve got to look at it as a complete result, the two races combined. That’s a very good way to put it. It is not just a single race weekend and then we move on to the next challenge. It is the same challenge two times over.

So we’ve got to go do the job tomorrow, and then once we get done with that, we’ll move to Nashville and start figuring out that problem.

 

THE MODERATOR: Five-time winner here at Iowa. Go for six tomorrow. Good luck. Josef Newgarden in Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.

That will wrap things up. Next warmup comes up tomorrow morning here at Iowa Speedway.

 

THE MODERATOR: Wrapping up today’s Hy-Vee Homefront 250 presented by Instacart, podium finishers will be here of course. Josef Newgarden with the win here today. Joined now by Scott McLaughlin in the No. 3 Expel Team Penske Chevrolet, coming home 2nd, second podium of the season, tenth of his career. And also joining us, Pato O’Ward in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet with his fifth podium of 2023 and 18th of his career.

Scott, tell us about race number one here this week and your thoughts.

SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: I’m going to get him at some point. I’m very determined. Helluva race. I think the three of us could have easily swept the top three there. Pato did an awesome job. Their cars are just really good through traffic.

What I learned with Josef during the week, during the last couple of weeks, has been huge. It’s a nice little rabbit to chase when he’s out in front. When you can keep up with him, that’s a nice feeling. Gives me a lot of confidence.

Learned a lot for tomorrow. I think we’ve got a really good race car we can sort of evolve with and just get better.

 

THE MODERATOR: Pato, your thoughts getting back on the podium here at Iowa Speedway?

PATO O’WARD: Solid podium for us today. Just didn’t have anything for the Penskes. We need to take a solid step forward if we want to make them sweat tomorrow.

I just think they were specifically strong getting through traffic. I would just — I’d get stuck. I wasn’t able to place the car where I needed to in order to get by some slow cars.

Obviously happy with it, but considering how much pace we had last year, it’s like where is it?

THE MODERATOR: You guys were catching up quickly to back markers, lap cars, and whatnot. Mentally, what’s that like to go through a couple hours or so where you’re really trying to — weaving in and out of cars and dealing with traffic all day long? Pato?

PATO O’WARD: Usually it’s quite okay. You know who you’re racing. Sometimes you get to some guys, and they’re just not very gentleman-like, I guess, when you’re falling behind.

Yeah, I had some moments in there where it wasn’t all turning left for sure.

 

THE MODERATOR: 1,502 passes on track, which is the most on record here at Iowa Speedway, INDYCAR sort of tracking that back in 2007. So there’s a lot going on out on the 7/8-mile oval. Take a couple of questions.

Q. Pato, do you have enough time in the warmup tomorrow, and can you do enough to make enough changes to catch up to the Penske guys? They’re incredible.

PATO O’WARD: I have a very clear picture of what we need. We’ve just got to get creative and see how we’re going to find that. Obviously we put our best foot forward coming into qualifying for the race, knowing what we’ve had here in the past, and we think this is going to be working for us.

But we need to take another step if we want to challenge for the win tomorrow.

 

Q. Scott, you were telling us yesterday that like Josef had opened up the playbook and showed you everything, but you thought there might be some things maybe he didn’t show you. Do you feel like you’ve got a full Monty from Josef?

SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: Yeah, I definitely think he’s opened it right up, which is good because I think it’s pushed us all three. Us three were really, really strong during that race, something to be proud of for the team.

Yeah, I was — I’m a little bummed the second to last stint we just didn’t have the balance that I needed. If I had the balance that I had in the last stint and I was able to stay with him, I really feel like we could have been right there with him and made some moves.

When I was catching him towards the end, I was like, oh, it’s going to be a little Texas rerun but other way around. Yeah, didn’t quite get there. He’s very good on this place. He’s got a very good understanding of the car and where he puts it.

Yeah, I think he was getting choked up a little bit. There’s a lot of guys out there that were racing the leader very hard, mirror driving, and just at times it was quite dangerous. Yeah, it is what it is.

 

Q. That was one of the first things that Josef mentioned in his Victory Lane interview, so I’ll give you guys the opportunity. Are we naming names in terms of who some of these drivers are?

SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: Not in the media, but we’ll go see them tonight.

 

Q. Same question for you both. How was the tire situation, and can you use maybe the tire degradation and change the pressure?

SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: My engineer gets paid to figure that out. So I’ll just drive the thing. I think we definitely need a little bit here or there. I think all three cars in Penske have the strengths and weaknesses. So we’ll sort of try and make up a sort of special sauce for tomorrow.

Yeah, I thought they brought a new tire this weekend from Firestone. Feels really good. No vibrations or anything. So that’s really good to start.

 

Q. Scott, first portion of the race when Will was leading and you tried a couple of times to go underneath him and a couple of times weren’t able to pull it off, was that just basically the strength of his car, or did you run out of room on the track?

SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: I think it’s just I probably ran him a little hard. I thought Josef was further back, and then all of a sudden he was ten back, five back, and then passing me. Probably burned my stuff up a little too much, but I had to start going for it.

Definitely felt faster than Will, but it was hard. We were always — one was getting choked up by traffic, and the next, you take one lane, and then that lane in front of you had gone. You can’t just wash up in front of the guy or into the side of them.

It is what it is, but that was probably one part of the race where I felt annoyed with myself a little bit.

 

Q. Pato, over the last couple of years, it seems like the same guys fighting for the wins and for the victories. How much does it, at least finishing on the podium, validate how good you are here?

PATO O’WARD: Absolutely, it’s one of the places where we come in here and we know that we’ve had a very good past here. It doesn’t necessarily mean we’re going to have the exact same results.

I think today was a little bit of what we had last year, but definitely not as strong. Last year we had, I felt like we were on par with where Josef was, and really what makes you lead or be second in line is usually if you can get them on the undercut or whatever.

Today I definitely felt like I was a bit more on the defensive. I didn’t feel like I was attacking as much, and I couldn’t put the car where I needed to. It was a really, really hard race, probably the hardest Iowa race that I’ve done, just to keep it where we had it.

 

Q. For both of you, the opening green stint was a very long stint. Were you both surprised at how long that was? Was there ever a thought in your mind around halfway that the race could have gone caution free?

PATO O’WARD: I thought it could have been caution-free for sure. 60-something laps, wasn’t it? I don’t know exactly how much it was, but it was getting pretty gnarly.

SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: We said in our strategy meeting the actual probability of yellows is low. There’s not really that many yellows here. We sort of figured it was going to be like that.

Yeah, I was surprised how long that first run to the yellow went, but at least it didn’t throw a curveball fuel-wise. Everyone had to make a stop or two. I don’t know how many stops we made it in, but yeah.

 

Q. Was it very tough out there physically for the first opening stint for that long? Usually you’re able to take a small breather under yellows but not that much.

SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: It was okay. The head pad is a wonderful thing, laying your head on it, and you sort of just go with it.

It’s more mental. It’s just mentally very like — you feel like you’re not blinking for two hours. That’s probably more taxing. I’ll get a good sleep tonight and come back tomorrow.

Q. Scott, just for people that tune in to my podcast and stuff down here in New Zealand, this is the true essence of speedway racing in its purest form on a short track oval like this. Can you just explain what that’s like for you as a driver by comparison to anything else the series comes across?

SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: It’s a little bullring. It’s probably one of my favorite ovals. Apart from IMS, it’s probably my favorite just from the perspective of being able to run different lanes and be able to really control your own destiny with your right foot.

It’s not just flat out. It’s not just ripping around. You’ve actually got to really think where you put the car, how hard you drive into the corner. You’ve got to think about looking after your tires at the start of the stint to the end because it’s a really nice bank.

Gateway has a little bit of it, but this one really, really cool and I enjoy having two races here. It also helps when your car is phenomenal like it has been the last few years. Enjoyed it and glad I qualified up front both races.

 

Q. It’s mentally very tough too concentration-wise because something is happening all the time, there’s no breathing space whatsoever for you.

SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: I think it’s probably 30 laps, 15 after the start and 15 after the restart, where we didn’t pass anyone. Like after that, every lap I was passing a car. That’s pretty crazy to think about in an 18-second lap, but it is what it is.

Sometimes then at the end of the stint, you’ve got people that aren’t that quick, but they’re on new tires, so they’re just flying through you like a video game. You feel like a superhero at the start of your stints, that’s for sure. It’s an awesome place for this car, for this series, and I’m glad we’ve got two races, and it’s such a great event.

 

Q. Well done today. Happy you’re 1-2, but let’s reverse the fortune tomorrow.

SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: Thank you.

 

Q. What’s the recovery plan for both you guys? A beer with Kenny Chesney?

SCOTT MCLAUGHLIN: No, man. I’ll probably have a really cold shower. I’d like a nice bath. I think you boys do that. Yeah, just cool down. It’s not as hot as last year thankfully. And get ready for a big one tomorrow.

 

THE MODERATOR: Pato, how are you going to recover?

PATO O’WARD: Eat.

 

THE MODERATOR: Good plan.

PATO O’WARD: Big meal.

 

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on the podium. We’ll see you tomorrow. Scott McLaughlin will start 2nd tomorrow, Pato O’Ward will start 11th.

 

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