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.
View this post on Instagram
I was not planning on posting anything, but today I bought my first car. I most likely don't deserve it, but for me it was a really cool moment and memory to share. I've always loved M cars and dreamed of an E46 M3 when I was younger kid. Now I'm a bigger kid, and when the new M4 came out, it reignited my love for the M series. Let's all pretend that I won't do anything silly with it. Happy days.
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.