AP – Australia’s defending IndyCar series champion Will Power is still in search of his first race victory this season after finishing fourth at the Grand Prix of Alabama.
Josef Newgarden held off a hard-charging Graham Rahal on Sunday for his first IndyCar Series victory, his milestone win at Barber Motorsports Park a few hours from his hometown of Hendersonville, Tennessee.
It was another frustrating result for Team Penske driver Power, who started from second on the grid behind pole-sitter Helio Castroneves.
The Queenslander was hit with a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact when he came out of the pits and hit Takuma Sato, while he was earlier warned by race officials for blocking.
Power moved up one spot to fifth on the championship standings and his season hopes were helped by below-par races in Alabama from the top two in the rankings.
Juan Pablo Montoya stays on top despite finishing 14th and Castroneves still sits behind him after coming home in 15th.
Dixon, who was third after being passed by Rahal on the final lap, is fourth overall and Newgarden fourth.
Newgarden had posted second-place finishes in each of the past two years before finally finishing up front for CFH Racing, a merger of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing. He’d gotten off to a good start with a seventh-place finish last weekend at Long Beach.
Rahal’s strong finish gave Honda a boost after Chevrolet fielded the seven fastest cars in qualifying, with Team Penske sweeping the top three.
Rahal flirted with his first victory since becoming the youngest IndyCar winner in 2008 at 19 years old and picked up considerable ground in the final laps.
He made an outside pass of Ryan-Hunter Reay with 10 laps to go, went by pole-sitter Helio Castroneves and then took on Dixon. Rahal finished 2.2 seconds behind Newgarden.
Two-time defending champion Hunter-Reay, the 2014 Indianapolis 500 winner, made a big surge after starting 18th. He finished fifth and Carlos Munoz took sixth.
Castroneves fell back to 15th after having to make a late pit stop for fuel, one spot ahead of Penske teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who came in with the series points lead.