Newly crowned Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden finished second in his No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet at the season finale in Sonoma in September, a result which was enough to net him the No. 1 position in IndyCar.
Now, following on from his two Team Penske teammates Will Power (2015) and Simon Pagenaud (2017), he’ll also run the champion’s No. 1 in the following season the year after winning his title.
Team Penske confirmed the news today via a fun social media video, where Pagenaud passed off a “champion’s to-do list” as the passing of the torch and champion’s number.
Pagenaud ran the No. 22 his first two years at Team Penske in 2015 and 2016, and would seem likely to go back to that next year – although Newgarden’s No. 2 would be available if desired.
Pagenaud is the best finishing driver with the No. 1 in recent years, coming second to Newgarden last year in the championship standings. Power ran the No. 1 in 2015 and finished third; Ryan Hunter-Reay ran the No. 1 in 2013 and finished seventh. Scott Dixon, the four-time champion, ran the No. 1 only once in his career – in 2004 – and finished 10th.
The last champion who defended his crown with the No. 1 was Sebastien Bourdais, who won the Champ Car title in 2004 as No. 2 and then won three more thereafter in the No. 1 from 2005 through 2007, before Champ Car and IndyCar merged in 2008.
And IndyCar’s last repeat champion is Dario Franchitti, who never ran the No. 1 even though he won four titles. He won in 2007 in IndyCar, then in 2009 through 2011.
How will Newgarden fare running the 1? Only time will tell.