Two-time IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden grabbed his first victory of 2021 Sunday, leading 73 laps on the way to victory at Mid-Ohio on a milestone day for Team Penske.
Newgarden's first win since the 2020 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida, in October came on the same weekend that Penske are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their first IndyCar series win, by Mark Donohue on July 3, 1971 at Pocono.
Perhaps more importantly for Newgarden, it ended a two-race streak of bad luck. He had started from pole in the second race of the Detroit double-header and again at Road America on June 20. He lost the lead in the final three laps of both races.
"It was really hard to hang on," Newgarden admitted of the adversity. "This team has been doing the job. Everyone's been giving me a hard time with what's up with us not winning a race, but I don't think these people at Team Penske could have done anything different. We've been in the game almost every race.
"It's great to see a win here finally on the year, but we're probably going to need three or four more of these if we want to win a championship, but I know this team is capable of it."
This time, Newgarden started from pole and led 73 of 80 laps and had enough to hold off Sweden's Marcus Ericsson, who earned his seventh top-10 finish of the season for Chip Ganassi.
Ganassi drivers finished second, third and fourth, with series leader Alex Palou of Spain third and New Zealand's reigning series champion Scott Dixon fourth.
"We had a great day, the whole team to get two, three, four there was a great result," Ericsson said. "I'm really proud of the whole team.
"We were pushing very, very hard in the end to catch Josef -- a couple more laps we could have challenged for it."
Palou remained atop the series standings, taking his points total to 384 and stretching his lead over Mexico's Pato O'Ward to 39 points.
Dixon is third in the standings, Newgarden fourth and Ericsson fifth as the series heads into an extended break before the next race in Nashville, Tennessee, on August 8.
"Let's keep it up," Newgarden said. "We've got, what, six races to go? We can make it happen."