What a difference one race made.
Josef Newgarden took the lead on the 72nd lap and never relinquished it, finishing 1.4485 seconds ahead of teammate Luca Filippi at the Honda Indy Toronto. And the 1-2 effort in the 85-lap event over the 1.755-mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place street circuit was a first for CFH Racing, a team in its initial year of operation.
“It was cool to get a 1-2,” Newgarden said. “This is a new team this year and so to already be able to get a 1-2 with this group is really incredible.
“That's too cool, too cool.”
Just over a week ago, CFH Racing registered a frustrating double DNF in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway. But Newgarden said the team can't get too excited from Sunday's result.
“I don't think we can let off the gas,” he said. “We've really got to keep working because there's a lot of good teams and it's still difficult to do this on a regular basis.
“I don't think this is going to necessarily mean we can just get more and more wins throughout the year, we've got to keep working to do that.”
Newgarden, a 24-year-old native of Henderson, Tenn., captured his second victory of the season. He won the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on April 26 but doesn't feel this is a breakout year for him.
“I think last year we had more of a breakout in my opinion,” said Newgarden, who started 11th on Sunday. “We were close to wins last year, we just couldn't get it done which was tough on everyone because we knew we had the potential to win.”
The second-place finish was a career-best effort for Filippa, a heady accomplishment considering the affable Italian didn't race for two years while broadcasting both IndyCar and Formula One races for Sky Sports.
“It was almost a perfect day for us, almost because I would've preferred maybe the other way around with myself first and Josef second,” Filippi said. “(For) two years I wasn't racing and it was tough … I always dreamed about this moment and now I want to win a race.”
Penske teammates Helio Castroneves and Will Power, the pole sitter, were third and fourth, respectively. Sebastien Bourdais, a winner here last year, was fifth as pre-race rain resulted in a wet start. The track dried out as the event went on but the wet stuff returned in the latter stages of the competition.
Castroneves was happy with his third-place finish, saying he faced no shortage of challenges throughout the race.
“Unfortunately I had some issues out there,” he said. “I was trying to pass Juan (teammate Juan Pablo Montoya) and ended up going straight and I tried to pass (Takuma) Sato and almost spun out so we were heavy on adventure.”
Castroneves held a solid 6.9-second lead over Newgarden through 40 laps later before falling near the back of the field two laps later the result of an untimely second caution for debris.
“We kept pushing, we kept taking chances and the good news was we finished in the top-three today because we had many opportunities to not be here,” he said.
But Castroneves did offer a tip of his racing cap to CFH Racing.
“They put themselves in the right place at the right time,” he said. “It just proves that the series is very competitive.
“They are making a great statement . . . showing in the Verizen IndyCar Series if you work hard, it pays off.”
Montoya finished seventh but remains atop the driver's standings with 374 points. Power (347) is second, with Scott Dixon (329) standing third. Newgarden (268) is eighth.
On Sunday, event president Charlie Johnstone said next year's race will return to its traditional July date. Toronto is hosting the Pan American Games next month at Exhibition Place, forcing event organizers to hold the race in mid-June.