Josef Newgarden takes the 10th turn during the first race of the IndyCar Detroit Grand Prix auto racing doubleheader, Saturday, June 1, 2019, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Josef Newgarden wins 1st of 2 Detroit Grand Prix races

June 01, 2019 - 4:07 pm

DETROIT (AP) — Josef Newgarden won the first of two Detroit Grand Prix races on a rain-slicked course Saturday to take the IndyCar points lead.

The Team Penske driver with a Chevrolet-powered car finished nearly a second in front of Alexander Rossi, who also was the runner-up at the Indianapolis 500. Newgarden opened the year with a victory at St. Petersburg and joined Indy 500 champion Simon Pagenaud as the series' two-time winners this season. Newgarden has won 12 IndyCar races since 2015.

Takuma Sato finished third on Belle Isle, followed by rookie Felix Rosenqvist and Ryan Hunter-Reay, who closed strong after spinning out and dropping to 15th early in the race. Pagenaud, who entered the race leading the series in points, was sixth after starting 13th in the 22-car field on Belle Isle.

The 70-lap race became a 75-minute timed event after thunderstorms delayed the start by more than an hour. There were five yellow periods due at least in part to conditions, leading to 14 laps under caution and 29 under green.

Rossi came up just short after earning the pole and leading the first 18 laps of the 43-lap race. Rossi lost the lead when he went in for a pit stop. He was second when the race resumed following a yellow flag and was trailed closely by Scott Dixon, who later hit a wall to bring out another yellow flag. The five-time champion didn't finish a race for the first time in two years and blamed himself, not the weather, for making a mistake.

"The front actually gripped a little too much in Turn 6 and I caught the inside wall," Dixon said. "When I hit the wall, it just broke the toe link. When it does that, it turns the opposite way and I went straight into the wall."

Rossi may not want to start out front Sunday for the second race in the Motor City because the position hasn't helped him win lately on the 2.35-mile road course on the banks of the Detroit River. He also had the pole for the second of two races last year and led 46 of 63 laps, but he finished 12th after overshooting a turn and puncturing a tire.

The race started after a delay and there was more sputtering than speed on display.

It began under a yellow flag after Zach Veach spun out just before the race was to begin. Shortly after the race resumed, the yellow flag came out again because Matheus Leist briefly lost control of his car.

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