Podcast: Newgarden on Penske adaptation, hectic schedule

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Newly crowned Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden paid a visit to Nate Ryan’s NASCAR on NBC Podcast presented by STP, at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Despite the setup, recording in a studio that Ryan jokingly referred to as an “oversized closet,” and with Newgarden holding a hand mic flag for about half an hour, the two enjoyed a lively conversation about a number of topics.

Newgarden, a self-described introvert, has had to adapt to moving to Charlotte (Davidson, N.C.) as part of his team switch to Team Penske and taking on far more roles over the course of the year than just driving.

“I only just moved in January. It’s just tough. If I’m not racing, it’s nice to be at home with recovery time,” Newgarden told Ryan. “(In IndyCar) we have a much more condensed schedule but it’s very intense. A lot of back-to-back-to-back. We’re happy to be at home. When we’re not home, we’re doing partner events or press tours. I never have a great answer, but we’re always doing something!”

Newgarden explained how interdependent all of the Team Penske race programs are, among the NASCAR, IndyCar, IMSA and Supercars operations.

“Driving for Roger is a different character. It’s a different sort of experience and one of the most professional people you’ll ever meet. There’s this process, these sayings… but Roger leads by example. That’s how he is and how he runs his businesses and race teams. You see how it works,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of divide (in racing) over 15 years. But racers are interested in racing in general. Whether you’re NASCAR, IndyCar, V8, sports cars, we’re all interested in what’s going on.

“For the IndyCar side, I think it’s helpful. What’s most helpful is that everything is under one house. All these guys can work together to maximize their own programs. I think that’s really the bread and butter. The sports cars will only add to that element. I like being in a new environment. Don’t get comfortable. Becoming uncomfortable, coming to a new city, 100,000 vs 40,000 square feet. It’s a good thing.”

Newgarden said he’d love to try NASCAR but like Simon Pagenaud, who also addressed this this past week in Indianapolis at the PRI Show, said he’d prefer to try on an oval.

As for Danica Patrick returning to the Indianapolis 500 after a seven-year hiatus? Newgarden is all for it.

“I always get excited by that stuff. It’s the Indy 500. I’ll be politically correct and say it’s one of the largest races in the world,” he said. “It used to be fun to see who’s gonna be in the race. Kurt Busch, Alonso, and now Danica Patrick coming back… this is her coming home. It’s been fun to watch her at the NASCAR side, but this is fitting. You have to give her credit. She was very good at the Indianapolis 500. More racers the merrier. I’d love 50-60 try the Indianapolis 500. I think it’ll be great.

“I’d be surprised if she wasn’t in the mix. It will take some re-adapting. That will speak to her adaptation skills. She started out open-wheel cars… so I wonder if this will be like riding a bike. I think it’s impossible to predict. If (she’s driving for) someone like Ganassi, she’ll be in the mix.”

You can hear the full podcast below, or in the following links and platforms Ryan shared.