Josef Newgarden stormed to the first IndyCar victory of the season with a dominant performance in St Petersburg, as new Ganassi signing Felix Rosenqvist starred and lead a portion of the race
Unlike last year, the 2018 even saw Will Power, the poleman, make a good getaway and inch ahead of his rivals, the chasing pack amazingly lead by Rosenqvist in only his first IndyCar start. This dropped Newgarden into third, but a caution for Ryan Hunter-Reay’s blown Andretti car paved the way for some drama as the pack bunched up again. The restart saw Rosenqvist get the jump on Power, and the Ganassi man made a bold move for the lead of the race which he took, and he slowly opened up a gap of around two seconds. A caution for Ed Jones and Matheus Leist again bunched the pack up.
Rosenqvist held firm, but the crucial point of the race was coming up as the pitstops at around half distance started to unfold. This sequence of stops did not work out favourably for Rosenqvist, who came out behind Newgarden, power and teammate Scott Dixon, who himself managed to get ahead of Power. The Swede also only just managed to emerge ahead of Alexander Rossi, the Andretti driver having a pretty quiet race despite being among many peoples pick for the victory in the season opener.
Newgarden had opted for the sticker red tyres over the blacks which the majority of the field had opted for, and he was very quickly able to establish a huge lead of over seven seconds, as the action started to die down a bit through the rest of the field. Rookie Colton Herta, who should have made the fast six in qualifying but for a penalty, was able to work himself up into the top ten from 11th on the grid.
In the final stages, Dixon caught right up to Newgarden and was under two seconds behind, but Newgarden was able to resist despite coming under huge pressure from Dixon. James Hinchcliffe and Simon Pagenaud finished behind Rossi. Rookie Marcus Ericsson was also having a strong run and was in the top ten before a technical issue forced him out of the running.