It looked as though Josef Newgarden might finally catch a break during Race 2 at the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. Then the nut on the right front tire of the No. 67 Strike/Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing car fell off on Lap 62, resulting in a lost tire in Turn 5.
The incident ended Newgarden’s race. He was credited with 20th place.
Newgarden started the 90-lap race on Houston’s 1.683-mile, 10-turn temporary street circuit from the back row and fought his way as high as eighth with an aggressive pit strategy.
SFHR called in Newgarden for his fourth and final pit stop on Lap 61, but a wheel gun failure in the pits led to the incident that ended Newgarden’s day halfway through his out lap.
“Just a tough day,” Newgarden said. “In the first part of the race, I think we were doing a good job on strategy. We had great calls and good pit stops. The guys were solid on everything. But if you look at the little things, we got bit by silly stuff.
“There was an incident in qualifying that I didn’t agree with that sent us to the back. We tried a bit of an aggressive strategy, but then we had a (wheel gun) failure in the pits, so it’s just a shame to not be able to put anything together while having good pace.”
The Verizon IndyCar Series field will continue a busy midseason stretch of racing Sunday, July 6 at Pocono Raceway. Newgarden hopes his team’s luck will turn around on the unique, 2.5-mile oval known as the “Tricky Triangle.”
“It’s getting a little old saying that we just have to catch a break, but leaving here that’s what it is,” Newgarden said. “We just can’t seem to catch the breaks, and it’s always something little that’s biting us. We can’t do anything different. Sometimes things don’t go your way, and you get in ruts like this. We will eventually get out of it.”
Simon Pagenaud won Race 2 of the Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston. Rookies Mikhail Aleshin and Jack Hawksworth rounded out the top three.
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