Two-time series champion Newgarden also admitted that the weekend as a whole was a struggle, as Team Penske searched for pace in the second round of the year around the Indy’s road track.
This year’s Indy 500 winner Newgarden lost a lap when he struck Marcus Armstrong’s stranded Chip Ganassi Racing car at Turn 7 on the opening tour, having started 25th on the grid after qualifying down in 19th and taking a grid penalty for an engine change.
His car became wedged on top of Armstrong’s nose and stalled, which cost him a lap, and he needed a new front wing.
“Just a very unfortunate start to this race, but this weekend was quite a challenge from the start,” said Newgarden. “We came with a new package because we have struggled lately on the Indy Road Course, and we wanted to do everything we could to finish the season strong.
“It just seemed to be one thing after another for the Hitachi Chevy team, from the 10-minute practice penalty for me being late to weigh-in, to the engine change last night to the first lap incident.
“Clearly not the finish we needed for the championship but this team knows how to fight. We are going to try and make everyone earn it over the last three races.”
Josef Newgarden, Team Penske Chevrolet
Photo by: IndyCar Series
His 25th place finish means he dropped to 105 points behind series dominator Alex Palou, who finished seventh after colliding with Armstrong in that opening lap clash, and fell behind race winner Scott Dixon to third in the championship.
Will Power was the only Penske driver to finish in the top six, charging up from 16th on the grid to pass Palou in the closing stages to finish sixth.
“It was a good comeback for the Verizon 5G Chevy team,” he said. “Just needed track position. I feel like we were the quickest car out there. It was track position, simply.
“Every time we got behind someone, we were faster than them, every time we’d go by and left them.
“Just need to work at qualifying here. It’s very hard to get it right.”
Scott McLaughlin, Team Penske Chevrolet
Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images
Team-mate Scott McLaughlin finished two spots behind him but remained frustrated at his form on this track: “Just a disappointing day today on the Indy road course. I thought we had a really good start. The Gallagher Chevy was feeling great over the opening laps, but at the end we just have no fight here right now and we have to figure that out.
“Our platform needs to be better. We are getting closer but we are definitely not close enough. It’s frustrating but we still finished eighth today, our eighth top-10 in a row. A good points day and we’ll press on to St. Louis.”