NEWTON, Iowa — Simon Pagenaud charged from last to first to win Race 1 of the IndyCar Iowa 250s Friday night, holding off Scott Dixon by .4954 of a second for his first win of the NTT IndyCar season.
Pagenaud started last in the 23-car field after a fuel pressure problem prevented him from making a qualifying attempt earlier in the day.
It’s the first time a driver has won from the last starting spot on the grid since March 2017, when Sebastien Bourdais drove from the rear to the front of a 21-car field to win the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“This place is tough,” Pagenaud said after his 15th career win and his first at the 7/8th-mile oval. “What a night. What a day for us. First of all, amazing group effort from the whole Team Penske to recover from Road America. We unloaded really well. This morning was a lot of fun. Qualifying was disheartening, but these guys never give up. That’s what this team is all about."
Dixon, the series point leader, also drove through the field from the 17th starting spot.
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Rookie Oliver Askew finished third in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.
Pagenaud moved into the top 15 within the first 10 laps and a caution period on Lap 144 allowed him to get fresh tires on his last pit stop, which enabled him to lead the final 72 laps.
Both Pagenaud and Dixon will have their work cut out again Saturday night for the second Iowa race. Pagenaud could not make a qualifying run Friday and again will start last, with Dixon starting 18th.