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article imageINDYCAR: Newgarden feels relief at winning in Alabama

By John Duarte     Apr 27, 2015 in Sports
Birmingham - Josef Newgarden let out a huge sigh of relief as he drove under the checkered flag to win the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on Sunday afternoon.
Newgarden led 46 of the 90 laps in the race at Barber Motorsports Park. It was his first win since 2011, when he was running in IndyCar's Indy Lights series. The 24-year-old has been racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series the last four years.
“I can’t tell you how nervous I was. In racing I am normally not, but it’s just been such a long time coming in trying to do this," he said. "I can’t believe now is when it happened."
It was the first career win for Newgarden in the Verizon IndyCar Series. It comes after 55 races on the IndyCar circuit and not one moment too soon for the driver, who admits his calm demeanour was beginning to waver.
“Normally, I'm pretty cool and I felt cool out there,” Newgarden said. “But it was just very stressful to run those laps and control that thing. We've been there before and things have gone wrong, and today nothing went wrong.”
The win holds special meaning for Newgarden, who is a native of Tennessee and grew up a few hours away from the Alabama racetrack.
“I really wanted that race to end. I'm so relieved that it's over,” the race winner said. “It was just so stressful for me.”
He was quick to praise his team for the win. Newgarden's previous best finish was second. He was runner-up on the streets of Baltimore in 2013 and on the Iowa oval in 2014.
“The team made it easy on me. They deserve the victory. I knew that one of these days it was going to happen with this team because they are so solid,” he said. “Let's go to the next one and try to do it again.”
While Newgarden was keeping his eyes on charging Scott Dixon, Graham Rahal moved closer and closer and passed Dixon on the final lap to finish second in the race.
“This team has come a long way and I think we have proven that,” said Rahal, who is yet to win his first IndyCar race. “One of these days, we'll win one of these things.”
For Dixon, who had won the previous week in Long Beach, finishing in third held little solace. He said he was glad for the “tough day” to be over after struggling with fuel and tire issues.
“It started horribly. We kind of got pushed around there at the start and just didn't get a clean line there. We dropped like a rock,” Dixon described his day. “We bled the rear tires off on the first set and, I think, we were the first to stop in that situation. It kind of altered the day and how we could kind of deal with tires and all that kind of stuff.”
Juan Pablo Montoya leads the Verizon IndyCar Series driver standings with a three-point gap over teammate Helio Castroneves, who had started this week's race in the pole position. Neither driver was really in contention at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. Montoya did manage to move up one place from his starting position and finished 14th , while Castroneves dropped way back from his starting place at the front of the field to finish 15th. Ever philosophical, Castroneves said having to stop for fuel in the closing laps is never a good thing.
“You never want to see the white flag on pit road,” said Castroneves. “The was just a bit of miscommunication on our fuel number that, unfortunately, caused us to have to pit with one lap left.”
The Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis is the next race on the Verizon IndyCar Series' schedule. The race is run on an infield street circuit at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 9, 2015. That race will be followed by the showcase event of the IndyCar season, the Indianapolis 500, on May 24.
More about verizon indycar series, grand prix of alabama, josef newgarden, Scott Dixon, Juan pablo montoya
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