Josef Newgarden is playing the IndyCar silly season game really well

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Upon speaking to Josef Newgarden at Mid-Ohio a couple weeks ago, I made the comment after we were done with our official conversation that he’s risen to become the domino in the Verizon IndyCar Series silly season for 2015 – a role previously held by Simon Pagenaud (2014) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (2012) in recent years.

It’s a lofty title and one the 24-year-old American rising star is fully worthy of, having finally become a race winner this season and with several options theoretically in play for him in 2016. Newgarden is on a one-year deal with CFH Racing for 2015 with a one-year option to continue next season.

The one thing he told me pretty definitively is that the racing in IndyCar is “the best racing on the planet right now,” and while he’s been mentioned as a possibility for Haas F1 Team next year, that’s more of a long shot for him at this stage.

With a two-week lull in the IndyCar schedule, the news has primarily been about schedule changes (Road America in, Phoenix maybe in, Fontana out) and lawsuits (Andretti vs. Andretti, because that doesn’t make anyone’s head hurt). But there hasn’t been any movement on the driver front.

Luckily, Newgarden has amped up his already strong social media game lately with a couple tweets you might not necessarily expect to see from a driver currently racing with CFH Racing.

First up was this one last week, that the four-year IndyCar veteran has a new street car, from Bobby Rahal BMW.

Graham Rahal offered this follow-up volley in return:

He’s also retweeted Newgarden a handful of times here in the last week.

But that’s not the only entity outside CFH appearing on Newgarden’s timeline.  Newgarden went home to Nashville last weekend and took in a Tim McGraw concert.

“Thanks for the love @BigMachine,” says part of his tweet.

Big Machine, of course, is Big Machine Records – a sponsor at Chip Ganassi Racing Teams, which has adorned Sage Karam’s car for the 2015 season. Taylor Swift is also a Big Machine artist, and her likeness was on Tony Kanaan’s chariot at Detroit – on the same weekend T-Swift played Ford Field there.

Lest that be the only form of Big Machine back-and-forth, Newgarden also had a test in what appeared to be an old NASCAR Truck in Nashville thanks to Scott Borchetta, who is President/CEO of the Big Machine Label Group.

Twitter has caught on, including notable IndyCar link hound Matt Archuleta (@indy44).

It’s pretty fascinating to watch, because Newgarden is playing the game really well in making public positive declarations about other outlets.

That, or it’s a freaky series of coincidences all coming back-to-back.

My idea? Since the IndyCar season is coming to a close here in two weeks, why not have the Newgarden Courtship play out as some form of reality show, maybe over a four or six-week period, since those seem to attract more viewers than they realistically should?

Have teams continue putting out their best offerings to sign him, and have Newgarden extend a Sharpie to teams he wants to carry on with to the next episode. Have the stakes get higher with every successive week.

Then, when it finally comes time to sign, Newgarden extends the final Sharpie and signs on the dotted line.

It would help pass the time… at least for the first month of what is shaping up to be another looooong offseason.

UPDATE: Who says Newgarden’s current team isn’t getting the love? In this faux commercial for Fuzzy’s Vodka, the non-drinking Nashville native can play a pretty good pitchman.

Porsche pulls GTLM cars from Mid-Ohio because of COVID-19 positives

Porsche Mid-Ohio COVID-19
David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.

Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.

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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.

“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.

“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”

The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.

Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.