American Josef Newgarden became the first repeat winner of the 2011 Indy Lights season by winning the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 40-lap race — saturated with an unprecedented number of caution periods — ended under a yellow flag. More than 50 percent of the race was run under caution with four yellow flags for 21 laps.
Running up front, Newgarden was able to avoid the on-track incidents and edged his Sam Schmidt Motorsports’ teammate Esteban Guerrieri, after the two traded the point on several occasions Friday. The last American to win the prestigious race at Indianapolis was Ed Carpenter who did so in 2003.
“It’s not really the way I wanted to win it, but I’ll take it,” Newgarden said post race, referring to the yellow-flag conclusion. “It’s unbelievable. I’m so grateful, and I have to thank Esteban [Guerrieri] because he helped me the whole race.”
Newgarden took the point on Lap 15 and never looked back. The Tennessee native won the opening round at St. Petersburg as well. With today’s win he emerges as the championship points’ leader with 151.
The race ended under caution following a scary incident on lap 34, which saw Jorge Goncalvez make heavy impact with the inside retaining wall between Turns 1 and 2. The carnage began when Bryan Clauson and Goncalvez made contact midway through Turn 1 while running three wide with Anders Krohn. Krohn spun while running on the bottom and Goncalvez, who was in the middle, was forced to back out of the throttle. In order to avoid contact, Goncalvez ran wide on exit impacting the outside SAFER barrier before shooting down the track and into the inner wall.
The massive impact sent shards of the car flying into the air along with flames, but Goncalvez was able to remove himself from the Dallara under his own power. Still, he was transported to IU Health Methodist Hospital for evaluation. Gustavo Yacaman was also transferred to the hospital for neck pain following a lap 20 crash.
It was an unfortunate end for Goncalvez who was challenging for a share of the lead while running in the top-three for the bulk of the race after starting 10th.
When the checkered flag waved for Newgarden, his teammate Esteban Guerrieri finished runner-up. Victor Garcia, driving for Team Moore, rounded out the podium.
Stefan Wilson, who topped the time charts in practice at Indianapolis last weekend, finished fourth after making some nice evasive maneuvers to avoid contact in the No. 5 Andretti Autosport entry.
Clauson, who started from pole position based on entrant points, finished fifth after dropping to the rear of the field during the opening laps. Today’s race marked his first-career Indy Lights start. The Indiana native earned his spot via a $300,000 Road to Indy scholarship for winning the 2010 USAC National Drivers Championship. The monetary prize will see him compete in all six of the Series’ oval events this season.
“[The race] was a lot of fun,” Clauson exclaimed after emerging from his car. “It was a whole new experience for me. I didn’t do my job at the beginning and once I started to get a hang of things we didn’t see a lot of green flag laps. It was a lot wilder than I expected.”
Full results from the 2011 Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after the jump.
Firestone Indy Lights
Freedom 100 – 2011
- Josef Newgarden
- Esteban Guerrieri
- Victor Garcia
- Stefan Wilson
- Bryan Clauson
- Peter Dempsey
- Rusty Mitchell
- David Ostella
- Chase Austin
- Mikael Grenier
- Jorge Goncalvez (out)
- Anders Krohn (out)
- Duarte Ferreira (out)
- Brandon Wagner (out)
- Gustavo Yacaman (out)
- Juan Pablo Garcia (out)
- James Winslow (out)
- Victor Carbone (out)