Josef Newgarden's Iowa Speedway fortunes remained unchanged on Sunday, winning the Hy-Vee One Step 250 to sweep the double-header weekend.
“We knew we had a great car and the pressure was there because I think we wanted to execute on it and make sure it was a great weekend,” Newgarden said.
“I'm happy now. When you finish the first race, it's great to have a double-header, but you just feel incomplete until you get through today, and to be able to come back and do it again and I think make our car a little bit better, I'm so proud of the team.
“Luke, the entire group, Chad leading the boys, it's just a fantastic effort from everyone.”
Newgarden won by 0.7050 seconds over team-mate Will Power with Palou finishing third. Felix Rosenqvist finished fourth ahead of Scott McLaughlin in fifth. Those five drivers were the only ones to remain on the lead lap.
Power led the early part of the race from pole, but it took Newgarden only 31 laps to pass both Power and McLaughlin in a single overtaking move of Turn 2 to go from third to the lead.
Agustin Canapino caused the race's first caution period as the Argentinian brushed the Turn 2 wall on Lap 86.
The race resumed on Lap 107 and Newgarden maintained the lead despite a couple of passing attempts from McLaughlin.
Sting Ray Robb's left rear tyre parted ways with the car as the #51 Dale Coyne Racing Honda was entering Turn 3 on Lap 158.
The tyre was not secured in the pit stop that had just taken place and numerous cars were lucky to avoid the errant tyre.
Race control disqualified Robb from the race for the error.
After the Lap 168 restart, those on the alternate strategy had varying degrees of success to move their way through the field before the leaders made their final green flag pit stops with just over 50 laps to go.
The drama wasn't quite over yet as Ryan Hunter-Reay brushed the Turn 4 wall on Lap 235. Race control declared an abandonment of procedure to quicken the pace of the yellow flag and required all lapped cars to drive through pit road.
Race control restarted the race with three laps to go and Newgarden kept a firm grip on the lead as Power overtook Rosenqvist on the restart. The Swedish racer fell from second to fifth, but moved up to fourth on the penultimate lap around McLaughlin.
Through it all, Newgarden remained firmly in control, winning his sixth race at the shortest track IndyCar visits and his fifth oval race in a row. Al Unser was the last driver to accomplish that in 1970.
“I know how good our car is here, and when you show up with a car like this, you've got the pressure to just execute and get the job done,” Newgarden said.
“If you don't get the job done, you feel like you did something wrong. I certainly felt that after qualifying, but to be able to fix that and win a couple of races. It's not so much last year I'm thinking of, it's just purely this year I wanted to make sure we could execute.”
Power remained second to score his fourth podium finish of the 2023 season. The defending IndyCar champion has not had a win in 2023 nor has he won at Iowa Speedway.
“We struggled massively in the beginning, but my engineer made a really good change,” Power said.
“Just taking wing out helped me so much, so I had a really fast car, just needed to pit a couple laps early so we could be P2 to Josef, I think we might've had a shot at it. It was the best car I've had here, I was really happy with it.
“Enjoyed the race, not the first stint though, man I was like white knuckled the whole time, but stoked to get P2. It's pretty tough to beat Josef here, but we'll do it one day, we'll get him!”
Palou limited how much his points gap shrank over the course of the weekend by continuing his streak of finishing every race this season so far in the top 10.
“Very glad to be here on the podium,” Palou said.
“It was a weekend where I expected to be on the podium. The race didn't start well for us, we were struggling a lot the first couple of runs.
“Had some issues with the balance but the team put me in a good position at the end. Amazing strategy, good pit stops and a good restart at the end to finish on the podium so yeah, super proud of it.”
As for McLaughlin, he dropped through the lapped cars on that final restart as his car handled poorly near the end after burning off the grip the right rear tire had left.
“I had run out of tools,” McLaughlin said.
“I was fully stiff on my front bar, I was fully soft on my rear bar and I was all the way to the right on my weight jacker and really just had zero tools left and I was just driving this thing.
“It was fun, I learned a lot.
“It's not fun when you restart with the whole field behind you but it is what it is and I'm learning every lap around these ovals and what I learned this weekend was huge and I can't wait to come back here in the future.”