IndyCar/Forrest Mellott

Josef Newgarden has quickly gotten up to speed on ‘The Penske Way’

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INDIANAPOLIS – When a young driver makes a big jump to one of IndyCar’s most successful teams, it’s like putting on a new glove.

The driver has to fit the glove, has to make it work, his fingers have to work well with the other fingers in the glove, maybe cinch it tighter one last time and then he’s ready to go.

And then there’s guys like Josef Newgarden. The young Tennessee native has fit into the glove known as Team Penske and made the transition in one of the quickest times ever in the organization’s history.

After just five races, Newgarden has already won a race for his new team, is third in the point standings – just two spots behind teammate, series leader and defending 2016 IndyCar champ Simon Pagenaud (one now after Scott Dixon has unofficially taken the points lead with qualifying points) – and has made a very seamless transition to the most successful organization in IndyCar racing.

Now, Newgarden is on the eve of his first Indianapolis 500 for Team Penske, the most successful organization in the annals of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing with 16 triumphs in the first 100 running’s of the 500.

In a sense, Newgarden and his teammates are like the three – scratch that, make it five – Musketeers.

Newgarden, Pagenaud, Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya (just for this race) have an understanding from team chairman Roger Penske that is, in effect, one for all and all for one.

Namely, each Penske driver should do everything he can to win, but if he can’t, then help out his teammates to see if one of them can win.

It’s the Penske Way.

“It’s very genuine,” Newgarden said of the tenor within the team, where each of the five are not just competitors, but they’re also friends on and off the racetrack.

“We all get along really well, which is odd, but it’s the ‘Penske Way,’” Newgarden said. “The Penske way is to be a team and work well together and help each other be better and we get that.

“We’re competitive, we want to beat each other, I want to beat all these guys and they want to beat me, but we work well together. It just makes you better as a driver and makes all of us better as a team.

“And at the end of the day, if we’re all the best, then we just have to fight each other, which is a good thing. The race is 500 miles, 200 laps, you have to go a long way. Anything can happen in this race. I feel good about that.”

Newgarden is like a Lotto winner. He went from a very good situation with Ed Carpenter Racing to becoming part of the winningest team in Indy 500 and IndyCar racing.

“They’re such a diverse group,” he said. “We’ve got drivers from all over that have done everything. You have a lot of information to go around, and then the history of the group is something you can’t deny. They’ve won 16 Indy 500s, they’ve got a lot of data on how to win this race.”

Newgarden feels he has a good chance to win his first 500 title – and add it to the lengthy Team Penske list of credits that also include 16 previous Indy 500 victories.

“It’d be huge,” Newgarden said. “Regardless of which team you’re with, it’s a big deal to win this race. Winning for Roger and Team Penske would be a big deal for me because of their success here. It’s special to be part of the group, but any time you’re running the Indy 500, it’s a big deal if you win the race.”

But don’t think Newgarden will have a different mindset in Sunday’s race just because his firesuit says Penske on it.

“I don’t think there’s a different mindset,” he said. “You approach the race the same way. I’m approaching it like I did last year (when he was with Ed Carpenter Racing).

“It’s still the same battle, you’re trying to make it to the end, trying to put yourself in position, so it’s really the same process. (Being with Team Penske is) a big group, they want to do well, Roger expects us to do well, but as far as the way you approach the race, it’s all the same.”

Newgarden approaches the 500 with a great deal of confidence. He knows he has a fast car that received some last-minute tweaks during Friday’s Carb Day. He’ll start 22nd.

Now, the stage is set for Sunday, and Newgarden minces no words of his agenda:

“My thoughts for the race are let’s get through Turn 1, hopefully our car is good, hopefully we won’t get an incident, let’s make it to the end and let’s try and win.”

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Dixon finally breaks through at Road America

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – After a year of near misses and frustration, Scott Dixon has finally captured his first win of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.

The driver of the No. 9 NTT Data Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing has won today’s KOHLER Grand Prix at Road America after leading 24 of 55 laps, and holding off a late charge from Josef Newgarden, best of Team Penske’s quartet.

The win also provides Mike Hull a victory on his 25-year anniversary with the team, a special moment. Dixon is now the eighth winner of the year, and the only active track where Dixon hadn’t led a lap – until today.

Hull made an excellent strategic decision to go with Firestone’s red alternate tires on the second-to-last stint. Following a restart after Takuma Sato spun at the Kink, Dixon then made a spectacular move to Newgarden’s outside going into Turn 1, and completing the move on exit. Newgarden had no counter as he was on Firestone’s blacks at that point.

Newgarden led home teammates Helio Castroneves, who fell to third from the pole, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power, as Penske ended second, third, fourth and fifth after sweeping the top four spots on the grid.

Charlie Kimball parlayed an off-sequence strategy to jump up to sixth, with Ed Jones, Graham Rahal, Max Chilton and Mikhail Aleshin completing the top 10.

Tony Kanaan had a heavy accident at the Kink but got out of his car, in the race’s one major incident.

More to follow…

Stroll rewarded with shoey after first F1 podium in Baku (VIDEO)

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Lance Stroll was “lost for words” after becoming the second-youngest Formula 1 podium finisher in Sunday’s chaotic Azerbaijan Grand Prix, crossing the line third for Williams.

Stroll qualified eighth in Baku before managing to rise up the order as a race of attrition set in at the front, with title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel both dropping back after coming to blows.

Stroll was left running second behind Daniel Ricciardo once Hamilton had pitted for repairs and Vettel had served his penalty, but had Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas bearing down through the closing stages.

In a drag race at the line, Bottas nosed ahead of Stroll by just 0.1 seconds to deny the Williams driver P2, but he was nevertheless able to hang on to third place.

Coming just two weeks after his maiden F1 points finish and following a barrage of criticism in the early part of the year, Stroll was overjoyed with the result.

“I’m just lost for words right now. I don’t even know what to say,” Stroll said.

“I can’t quite realize what just happened. It was a hectic race, people crashing and we stayed out of trouble, I kept my head cool and took it to the end.

“I lost out to Valtteri in the end. I reckon that was probably one of the closest finishes of all time! We were side-by-side across the finish line.

“What a race. I couldn’t believe coming into the weekend that I would be standing on the podium, it’s so amazing.”

Joining race winner and shoey extraordinaire Ricciardo on the podium, Stroll became the latest driver to take part in F1’s strangest tradition – albeit only after Ricciardo checked he was old enough.

Stroll completed the shoey like a champ, and was also informed that he had won the online Driver of the Day vote.

The result also saw Stroll became Canada’s first podium finisher since Jacques Villeneuve in 2001, as well as being the youngest ever rookie to finish in the top three.

Stroll missed out on the overall youngest podium record by 11 days to Max Verstappen, who won last year’s Spanish Grand Prix during his second season of racing in F1.

Ricciardo doubted Baku F1 win was possible, left ‘speechless’ on podium

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A stunned Daniel Ricciardo was left speechless on the podium after claiming his fifth Formula 1 victory in Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix, navigating a crazy race that he started from 10th on the grid.

Ricciardo survived three safety car periods, two early pit stops and a red flag stoppage to rise through the order and capitalize on trouble for title rivals Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, with both dropping back down the order after dominating early on.

Ricciardo moved into the lead when Vettel was forced to serve a penalty for dangerous driving, and went unchallenged en route to victory in Baku from there, finishing 3.9 seconds clear of the pack.

Struggling to form his words initially, Ricciardo said he only thought a podium was within reach after the restart, only for the issues for the leaders to hand him the race win.

“We know there was a chance of the podium after the restart, but then we heard what happened with Lewis and Seb. It was just a crazy race,” Ricciardo said.

“I made an unplanned stop at the beginning. After a few laps we had some debris in the brakes, so we had to stop and clean it. We dropped to 17th place.

“So did I think then that we could win? Absolutely not. I would have put all my money on it that this was very unlikely.

“A crazy race. This is the race we expected last year, with all the safety cars and all the chaos, and we got it this year.”

Ricciardo’s victory came after he crashed out of qualifying on Saturday evening in Baku, resigning him to a P10 start, but was pleased to make up for it in style.

“Yesterday I was disappointed with the mistake. I knew today would be a different outcome,” Ricciardo said.

“I said it yesterday that we had to stay out of trouble and it certainly paid off today. A big thanks to the team, it was nice to get one car home and on the podium.

“I’m honestly speechless. After the race on the cool down lap, I was kind of just giggling like a school boy.”

WATCH LIVE: KOHLER Grand Prix at 12 p.m. ET on NBCSN

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to Road America this weekend, with the now 55-lap KOHLER Grand Prix this afternoon.

You can watch it LIVE on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app starting at 11 a.m. CT and local time, noon ET.

Coverage has moved up half an hour from a planned 12:30 p.m. ET start time with the Formula 1 race from Azerbaijan running long.

This moves the Indy Lights second race of the weekend, which was scheduled for 11:30 a.m. ET, with Jake Query and Anders Krohn in the booth and Hargitt in pit lane.

Coverage will run through to 3:30 p.m. ET. INDYCAR: NEXT at the 101st Indianapolis 500 is scheduled from 3:30 to 4 p.m. ET.

Kevin Lee is on the call along with analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy, with Marty Snider, Jon Beekhuis, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller in the pits.

Helio Castroneves secured the pole position for the race. The full qualifying report is linked here.