Josef Newgarden concedes victory to Simon Pagenaud in ‘autograph battle’

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Simon Pagenaud may have won the battle but Josef Newgarden would rather win another kind of war in Sunday’s Indy 500, of which both drivers are going for their first win in the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.

The two Team Penske teammates have ended their two-month “autograph battle,” where each tried to out-do the other when it came to putting their John Hancock essentially in the other guy’s face or on his property – and live to brag about it.

Newgarden surrendered this week after Pagenaud pulled off one of the most classic stunts ever seen in IndyCar annals and had been a big hit on social media.

Late last week, Pagenaud gave Newgarden the ultimate example of his penmanship.

This was no quick hit autograph from Pagenaud. Ohhhhh, no. Pagenaud had spent a considerable time in setting things up with the cooperation of the Speedway (Indiana) Police Department.

“I’ve got contacts,” Pagenaud quipped.

Newgarden made an illegal U-turn leaving Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and before he knew it, he was being “pulled over” by the po-po.

While the police officer let Newgarden slide on the U-turn violation, he still issued the defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion “a citation” for a supposed expired registration on his rental car.

But it wasn’t just any citation: it was signed, or shall we say “autographed,” by Pagenaud, prompting a dumbfounded Newgarden (check the video below to see his facial reaction) to reply, “That was impressive. That’s super impressive.”

During a lunch earlier this week, Newgarden admitted he has conceded the battle.

“Honestly, I don’t know how you top what he did,” Newgarden said of Pagenaud. “Simon has put in effort like nobody’s business.

“He recruited people and talent and teams. I don’t have the time or the energy to top what he’s done. There’s no way it’s getting done. We’ve reached the end.”

That’s okay with the victorious Pagenaud, who is keeping at least one “souvenir” from their battle: he still has Newgarden’s autograph on what had been his freshly painted house in late March.

“It’s going to rise in value, especially if he wins Indy,” Pagenaud said.

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