A special bond was forged early between Newgarden, Tandy in U.K.

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Newly crowned Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden’s road to the title this year had several key moments and people along the way that saw his potential to win races.

In his first full season in Europe in 2009, eventual Porsche factory driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Nick Tandy saw that in Newgarden, by way of his late brother’s, Joe Tandy, race team – Joe Tandy Racing.

Newgarden had drawn the team’s attention by way of his performance in the 2008 Formula Ford Festival, after he and Conor Daly had won the year’s Team USA Scholarship. Nick Tandy picked up the rest of the story from there.

“I paid attention to him the last eight years. We saw Josef come over to the U.K. the end of 2008, via the Team USA Scholarship,” Tandy told NBC Sports.

Photo courtesy of IMSA

“He raced in the 1600 division of Formula Ford Festival and won that in that class. I think I was racing in the other class at the time. So I kind of noticed what was going on with him.

“Then he decided it’d be a good thing, between he and his family, to race in the U.K.

“He joined my brother’s team, Joe Tandy Racing, as we started the team in 2007. It was well-established by then. He very nearly won the title in his first year. He won the most races of anyone in the season; he just had a bit of bad luck that cost him a few races.”

The year between the Tandys and the Newgardens was one of triumph and tragedy, as Joe Tandy lost his life that year in a road accident at age 26. The bond between Newgarden and Nick Tandy, 32, has remained strong to this day.

“We’ve been great friends ever since. It was nice when we raced at Long Beach, IMSA and IndyCar. We’d always check in on each other to see what he’s up to,” Tandy reflected.

Tandy said how Newgarden integrated himself into the European scene spoke to his determination to succeed, since it can be difficult for Americans living abroad to do so.

After his one year with JTR in the British Formula Ford Championship, where he finished second in points, Newgarden moved onto GP3 the next year with Carlin.

“He’s got on really well in U.K. He came over literally on his own. And sometimes that’s not so nice for young guys coming over, moving away from home,” Tandy said.

“He integrated into the team and our family at JTR. And he’s been part of the team ever since.

“So we’ve always followed him. It was great to see him win at Sonoma.”

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.