Newgarden raced in the lead for the first half of 250 laps at a 1.5-mile track, but after the second pitstop O’Ward passed him and moved away to be seven seconds ahead of everyone else, including Romain Grosjean from Andretti Autosport who was in third place.
Just then a yellow flag came out which gave Newgarden another chance to catch up with O’Ward and Palou again so they could compete to see who would win the race.
“We were really behind during the middle of the race,” said Newgarden after he got his 26th victory and third at Texas Motor Speedway. “At the beginning, I thought our car was great and the track was gripping us well.
I asked for some changes on the setup but they weren’t working with the trend of the track. Pato did the opposite of what I was doing and it worked! We were slow in the middle, and I had a big gap between us, but he managed to catch up to me easily and moved ahead of me.
“At first, it seemed like it would be hard to catch up because the other guy had a huge lead. But then a caution happened and we got back into the race. We were able to get our car in a good position and ended up doing really well. In the end, it was basically even between our cars; they both did awesome!”
Newgarden said that people can now race better at Texas Motor Speedway because the downforce increased and something called the PJ1 compound, which was put on Turns 1 and 2 before the 2020 race, has weakened.
“The cars feel much heavier,” Newgarden added. “I could go full throttle during almost the entire final sprint – a huge difference compared to last year! That’s the main point right there.
This year the track felt different because it wasn’t as dark. The PJ1, a special kind of grip solution, didn’t make the track seem like it had less grip, like in other times we’ve been here before.
Everyone was trying the high line (a line of track on a race circuit) which has low grip, but it turned out that once we went up there, the grip wasn’t so bad. This helped us to add more speed and get better control of our cars. And that’s why we had such an exciting kind of racing today!