Newgarden on IndyCar: “You’re not going to find better racing on the planet right now”


Last week at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, we touched on Josef Newgarden’s future in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

This week, we’re discussing the present.

Newgarden was among those caught out by the Sage Karam caution on Lap 66 in Sunday’s Honda Indy 200, which resigned him to a 13th-place finish – his worst finish in a race since ending 20th at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis back in May.

With that unlucky 13th in the bag, it brings up an opportunity to note that one of Newgarden’s best tendencies is to carry himself well when the chips are down.

He hasn’t really gotten too frustrated publicly after gut-wrenching moments – losses like at Long Beach and Mid-Ohio 2014 and after inadvertently being taken out by teammate and co-owner Ed Carpenter at Fontana this year come to mind.

Newgarden has made it a point to not lose it when things go awry.

“The good thing is I haven’t had any moments that have got the better of me,” he told MotorSportsTalk in an interview last week. “It’s really easy to get emotional, especially when you get out of the car.

“Luckily I’ve never had emotions get the better of me, but I realize they can. People might not have seen yet, but it’s always possible.

“When you have a bad day, it’s one team… it’s a unit, it’s a group. If I have a bad day, I don’t want the team coming down on me, and I don’t want to come down on the team. I’ve always kept that in my mind, and that helps me keep calm in difficult days.”

Newgarden also said the new Rule 9.3.8, designed to prevent competitors and other series stakeholders from blatantly speaking out publicly against the series, has been misunderstood.

“I think the new ruling set out for code of conduct was probably misunderstood,” he explained. “It was bad timing when it came out. I think people didn’t understand.

“Normally you’d release a rule like that in closed doors, but it’s good we have transparency with fans and media so everyone can see what we’re doing.

“Everyone with an opinion in the series will still have it; INDYCAR just wants to make sure we’re not bad-mouthing the series. That’s a good thing. They work hard to give us everything we need to build it up.

“If I’m not happy with another driver, or if I’m not happy with the team or a race weekend, I’m still gonna voice that opinion, and all the drivers will. I think it will take away some of the negative that can come out in the heat of the moment from drivers that may not be necessary.”

Overall though, while winds and rumors of Newgarden possibly moving to Gene Haas’ F1 team have been mentioned on several NBCSN IndyCar broadcasts, he can’t stop praising the series’ current product.

“IndyCar… it has never been a question of, ‘Is it a good racing series to watch?’” Newgarden said. “It’s always had a phenomenal product. It’s a matter of getting people to talk about it.

“It’s nice we’ve had a lot of positive buzz and recognized the racing. I think it’s what the series deserves. You’re not going to find better racing on the planet right now.

“It’s hands down impressive, all of the talent.

“We have a lot of good, positive momentum, but we have to keep it up.”

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.