“Man, you just don’t know what it is about our team right now,” said Team Penske’s Will Power as he celebrated finishing third at Road America while also lamenting the cruel fortunes that have kept the team from victory lane on three occasions over the last nine days.
“We almost have a win in the bag and something just ridiculous happens, like just something that — I don’t know what it was, but things that you couldn’t prep for, something that you couldn’t avoid.”
This time, it was Josef Newgarden surrendering a chance at the win after earning pole position and leading most of the 55-lap contest. As far as big IndyCar teams go, Andretti Autosport has been the leader in bad luck since 2020. Somehow, though, Penske has become the lightning rod for all that can go wrong while leading late in a race since the June 12-13 doubleheader in Detroit.
“Down the front straightaway, as soon as I got to fifth gear, I tried to shift to sixth, and it didn’t take the selection, so I was stuck in fifth,” Newgarden said after leading Chip Ganassi Racing’s Alex Palou to the green flag for the Lap 54 restart.
“I was trying to get it up to sixth gear, and it wouldn’t go. Then I got stuck in fifth in Turn 1. I finally got it to go down, and I just could not get it to upshift after that. I got it to first, essentially, and tried to stay out of the way.”
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Power was in a similar state of disappointment while leading Round 1 at Detroit.
“I don’t know what the luck [is] with our team right now, but with Josef to have a gearbox issue on the last bloody lap, almost the race won, like we were in Detroit, it’s just heartbreaking,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it when he was pulling off to the side.
“It’s like my thing was just a switch, just a weird glitch in the system in Detroit, and I don’t know what his was this time. But yeah, unbelievable. And maybe it wouldn’t have happened if there wasn’t a restart, but you don’t know.”
Left to commiserate among themselves, Team Penske’s quest for its first victory of the season pushes on to Round 10 at Mid-Ohio on July 4.
“I’m not sure what happened,” Newgarden added. “Disappointing for all of us. I knew we had a great car all day.”