Josef Newgarden Dominates Again at Mid-Ohio for Third Victory of 2017

But maybe since Newgarden (and everyone else) knew this was going to happen since before last season, he's been able to jump right in and continue his upward climb toward becoming one of IndyCar's elite.

Will Power will start from the front row in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio for the sixth straight year on Sunday after claiming the Verizon P1 Award in Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying today at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

While Team Penske features past champions Will Power and Simon Pagenaud and three-time Indy 500 victor Helio Castroneves, it's their latest acquisition who's on a roll heading into the final stretch of the season. And Newgarden is the class of the team.

He led 73 of the 90 laps on the 2.258-mile (3.63 Km) course, notching his third victory of the season and sixth of his career.

Driving the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, Power's best lap of 1 minute, 4.1720 seconds (126.672 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six was enough to earn his third pole position at Mid-Ohio, his fifth pole this season and the 49th of his Indy vehicle career - tying the 2014 series champion with Bobby Unser for fourth on the all-time list.

Newgarden started the day in second place behind pole-winner and Team Penske teammate Will Power, but pulled ahead on Lap 13. Newgarden might have been challenged by Power, Rahal and others, but the lapped vehicle of Esteban Gutierrez lined up behind Newgarden and raced harder than everyone but the leader wanted.

The lone caution came in lap 67 when Ed Jones spun out in turn 9. He maintained his lead on the restart and held off Power and OH driver Graham Rahal despite being on slower tires for the final stint. He did not fault Gutierrez, but did mention he would like the rule regarding lapped traffic to be revisited.

"We've got to keep building the gap hopefully", Newgarden said. I was two or three seconds a lap off.

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There are four races left in the championship.

"Really weird - right from the get-go", the Kiwi said. "Today, luckily, it was okay because we could have gone another lap to turn and decided not to, thank God". The 30-year-old from Oakville, Ont., was forced to spend the first half of the race getting back to his starting position.

"The Verizon vehicle was really hooked up", Power said. All three eventually breezed by Hinchcliffe. "This was a good day for Team Penske".

It signals back-to-back championship wins for Newgarden to bring him to the top of the title fight. It seemed to be a wake-up call for the Russian driver. Pagenaud, who won last year's race here, finished fourth with Indianapolis 500 victor Takuma Sato fifth. The win also gave Newgarden a slight lead in the Indy Car points standings at 453.

Dixon has had strong showings at Mid-Ohio in the past with five wins, but he couldn't extend that to six.

He later qualified last of 21 drivers. It means he is eight points behind Newgarden and one behind second-placed Helio Castroneves.

Hunter-Reay's string of bad luck just never seems to end. Rahal was the only other racer who had won back-to-back races this season entering Sunday.

Hunter-Reay managed to avoid wrecking the No. 28 Honda, though, and kept it clean from there to finish eighth.

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