Nashville is home again for Josef Newgarden among big life changes

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His victory in the season-opening Firestone St. Petersburg Grand Prix was just the latest in a series of major life events for Josef Newgarden.

There’s also the ongoing corrective dental work to fix a jaw problem caused by childhood braces. He is in the process of wedding planning for later in the year.

And the Team Penske driver just made a major move – literally.

Newgarden relocated a few weeks ago to his hometown of Nashville, Tennessee (he was born in nearby Hendersonville), to be closer to his family.

It’s notable because he had been living in Davidson, North Carolina, to be near Penske’s headquarters in Mooresville. During a new episode of the NASCAR on NBC Podcast, Newgarden said he’d cleared it with team president Tim Cindric.

“I had a great conversation with Tim about it before I made the decision to move back,” he said. “I wanted to make sure I talked to everybody and see how they felt about me moving away because I’d always been close to the team. The reason I moved to Davidson when I first joined Team Penske was to be accessible; they had to be accessible to me and vice versa.”

With the move to Nashville, Newgarden thinks he still will spend about as much time in Mooresville as last year.

“Our (race) schedule is a lot lighter than NASCAR but I think we travel nearly as much if not more,” he said. “We travel a lot during the week and go to so many different functions and partner events. We’re doing testing. We’re always traveling for something. I’ll be in North Carolina, the simulator and the shop pretty much as much as I was in 2018. I don’t feel impacted by (the move).”

The Firestone St. Petersburg Grand Prix was the 11th victory of Josef Newgarden’s IndyCar career (IndyCar photo by Joe Skibinski).

Newgarden proposed to his fiancée, Ashley Welch, last October while on vacation in Japan.

How is the wedding coming along and is there a date yet?

“Well, I’m not in charge of it,” he said with a laugh. “I think it’s going great! We’re trying to figure (the date) out. The last quarter, after the season. There’s a lot going on this year on the plate. We’re trying to do a lot of things. So really just to have those resources and that infrastructure of people (in Nashville) is a lot of the reason why we moved back.”

It’s appropriate given that he joked about “trying to build my brand as a Nashville guy, bit of a cowboy, guitar boots and some teeth missing” after his win Sunday in St. Petersburg.

Newgarden, 28, recently was part of an NHL on NBC “Inside The Glass” feature and is a longtime Nashville Predators fan, and he kidded that he “got in the rink with (defenseman) Roman Josi” when he was asked about a noticeable gap in his teeth.

The truth was he has reverse braces to realign his jaw and fix a tooth that should have been replaced as a kid.

Newgarden, who started the dental work about six months ago, said during the podcast that the formation of his bite caused major problems the last five years while driving.

“When I get in the car and have the helmet on and go through a race, it just locks up because of the way it’s holding together,” he said. “It puts too much pressure on one side of my jaw. I’d get out of the car and sometimes I’d have to drive the car with it locked up. It’d be locked up all weekend.

“It would start on a Thursday practice day or something. I’m just struggling to eat all weekend and have to drive the car. I struggled to talk sometimes. I just can’t continue to do this. I’m going to have to bite the bullet and refix the issue.”

Josef Newgarden celebrates at St. Petersburg with his team (IndyCar photo by Joe Skibinski).

Though having the procedure will bring long-term relief, the 2017 series champion cracked that he’d prefer to avoid attention in the meantime.

“I’m so conflicted,” he said with a laugh. “I want to do well, but I also don’t want to do well. I want to be under the radar so no one can see me. I need to hide but I can’t do it. It’s a weird situation.”

To listen to the podcast, which also includes an in-depth interview with Tony Kanaan, you can click on the embed above or by listening via Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher and Spotify.

Adam Cianciarulo wins 250 championship, Eli Tomac wins Ironman 450s

Vanessa O'Brien. KawasakiUSA
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Not content with the championship, Eli Tomac ended the season in style with his sixth overall victory of the season at Ironman Raceway in the season finale.

Finishing third in the first race behind the two riders who were his principal rivals for most of 2019, Tomac did what he has done for most of the season and finished better in his second moto. In fact, he scored his 11th moto victory in that race.

“It was a fun day,” Tomac said on NBC Sports Gold after Moto 2. “The mindset was there to attack. The first lap there (in Moto 2) was chaos with the crash with Marvin (Musquin). After that, Ken (Roczen) got by me right away. He was so good on the first couple of laps. I rode behind him for the majority of the race and was able to get by. What a year.”

The first moto may have been one of the best fans have seen all year.

Roczen grabbed the early lead, but Tomac kept him in sight. The other member of 2019’s Big 3, Musquin lurked in third and none of them were able bot get away from the other. In the closing laps, Musquin surged from third to the lead. At the checkers Musquin held a .707 second lead over Roczen with Tomac less than three seconds back in third.

Neither Musquin nor Roczen could keep their momentum, however. Musquin crashed in the opening lap of Moto 2 and was carted off the track. Roczen had the lead of the second race before giving it up to Tomac after the halfway point – and has often been the case this season, he faded in the closing laps to finish third.

Roczen’s 2-3 was enough for second overall.

Zach Osborne (5-2) rode to a top five finish in the first moto, but it was his performance in the second that gave him his sixth overall podium finish of the season.

In what is probably his last ride with the Monster Energy Kawasaki team, Joey Savatgy (4-6) finished fourth overall.

Justin Barcia (7-4) rounded out the top five.

450 Moto 1 Results
450 Moto 2 Results
450 Overall Results
Points Standings

In the 250 class, Adam Cianciarulo wrapped up the championship with one moto remaining.

Dylan Ferrandis needed to win in order to keep the pressure on Cianciarulo and he certainly did his part. Ferrandis took the lead from Kyle Peters on Lap 2, but it would not be that simple. Teammate Justin Cooper would not make it easy on Ferrandis when he grabbed the top spot on Lap 5. Ferrandis paced himself and regained the lead on Lap 12. With that pass, he was going to extend the championship battle into Moto 2 unless Cianciarulo could respond. Cianciarulo ran in third about five seconds back.

Ferrandis held on for his eighth moto win of the season.

“My goal today was to finish on a high note,” Ferrandis said on NBC Sport Gold after the first race. “So, I won a moto. I did the hard part of the job. AC was on it again today. He completely deserves this title. I was bad this year and lost points to him. I made a lot of mistakes this year, but I learned a lot also.”

When Ferrandis passed Cooper for the lead, it lit a fire under the championship leader. Cianciarulo caught Cooper in two laps to minimize the effect of Ferrandis’ win. Entering Moto 2 with a 27-point lead, he did not even need to start the race to claim the championship.

“Those guys were going really fast at the beginning,” Cianciarulo said. “It’s kind of hard. I felt like I had some pace, but I didn’t want to get in between them because that’s when things get hectic. So I thought I would let it play out as it was going to. I was cheering on Justin the whole moto. I was like ‘Come on man! Good lead, you’re doing good.’ Then I saw Dylan make a charge. I don’t know what happened to Justin, but then I knew I had to get him.

“I really did not want to sit in the rig for 45 minutes between (motos) and stress about it the whole time.”

All that was left was to see if Cianciarulo could round out the season with a perfect record of podium finishes.

Moto 2 was dominated by the same riders who ran well in the first race. After struggling with starts all year, Ferrandis earned the hole shot and rode to an easy win over Cooper getting his fourth overall win in the process. All four wins have come in the last six weeks.

With this moto win, Ferrandis bettered Cianciarulo in that statistic with nine to seven. This was Ferrandis’ best year in America with his Supercross championship and a second in the outdoor series.

Cooper’s second-place finish combined with his third in Moto 1 to give him second overall.

The answer to the question of whether Cianciarulo could sweep the podium was “yes.” Finishing fourth in the second race, he was third overall

Chase Sexton was able to snag the last podium spot of Moto 2 for his first such finish since Round 3. With a 4-3 he finished fourth overall.

Michael Mosiman (5-5) rounded out the top five.

250 Moto 1 Results
250 Moto 2 Results
250 Overall Results
Points Standings

Moto Wins

450MX
[11] Eli Tomac (Hangtown II, Pala I & Pala II, Thunder Valley II, WW Ranch II, RedBud I, Washougal I & II, Budds Creek I & II, Ironman I)
[5] Ken Roczen (Hangtown I, Thunder Valley I, High Point II, Unadilla I & II)
[4] Marvin Musquin (WW Ranch I, The Wick I, RedBud II, Ironman I)
[2] Cooper Webb (Spring Creek I & II)
[1] Blake Baggett (High Point I)
[1] Zach Osborne (The Wick II)

250MX
[9] Dylan Ferrandis (WW Ranch II, The Wick II, RedBud I & II, Washougal I & II, Unadilla II, Ironman I & II)
[7] Adam Cianciarulo (Hangtown II, Pala II, Thunder Valley I, High Point II, The Wick I, Spring Creek II, Unadilla I)
[3] Justin Cooper (Hangtown I, Pala I, Thunder Valley I)
[2] Hunter Lawrence (High Point I, Spring Creek I)
[2] Shane McElrath (Budds Creek I & II)
[1] Chase Sexton (WW Ranch I)

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