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Marvin Musquin wins Indy 450s Supercross, Austin Forkner remains perfect

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Round 11 of the Supercross season in Indianapolis may have been the last opportunity for the three challengers to catch points leader Cooper Webb. Marvin Musquin took that to heart, grabbed the holeshot and led all 26 laps on his way to his first victory of the season.

As he clicked his heels together flying over the finish line, he shaved five points off Webb’s lead, but more importantly, he served notice that Webb could be beaten.

Musquin’s win came with a comfortable lead over Blake Baggett.

Baggett put heavy pressure on Musquin with 5 minutes remaining, but that in turn allowed Webb to catch up. Once he was forced to look over his shoulder, Baggett faded.

By his recent standards, Webb struggled in the first half of the race, falling back to fourth after stalling his bike.

He recovered to finish third and minimize the damage to Musquin while adding two points over fourth-place Eli Tomac.

For Tomac this was a moral victory, however; it is the first time in the last six weeks that he backed up a win with a top-five finish.

Webb’s day wasn’t exactly clean. With 7 minutes remaining, he missed a corner, cross-rutted, shortened the course, and landed on a tough block. It whipped his bike around and allowed him to make a pass over Tomac (riding third at the time).

In his first race back after being sidelined by a concussion, Justin Barcia rounded out the top five. This was Barcia’s first top-five finish since he won the season opener at Anaheim I.

Complete Results
Points Standings

When he was asked earlier in the season how he could beat Austin Forkner, Chase Sexton said by keeping the pressure on to force a mistake. That’s hard to do from 7 seconds back, which is where Sexton was by Lap 10.

Forkner grabbed an early advantage, settled into a comfortable position on the track and never worried one minute about the rest of the field. As he has done all year long, Forkner made winning look easy as he grabbed his fifth trophy of the year.

Sexton finished second and saw the Forkner’s points lead extend to one full race of 26 points.

Justin Cooper rounded out the podium.

Mitchell Oldenburg was looking for his first podium of the season after welcoming a new son into the world this week. He held onto that spot until the clock ran to zero and was passed by Cooper on the final lap. Oldenburg missed the podium, but tied for a season-best finish.

Martin Davalos got around Kyle Peters at the end of the race to grab fifth.

Complete Results
Points Standings

450 Heat 1: All of the championship contenders were in Heat 1 with the exception of Cooper Webb, but it was Dean Wilson that grabbed the heat win. … The challengers wound up second through fourth with Marvin Musquin, Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac all getting great gate positions. … Mike Alessi grabbed the holeshot, but got into the tough blocks on the opening lap and fell to 18th; he could get back to only 13th and had to move into the LCQ.

450 Heat 2: Blake Baggett took the early lead over Cooper Webb, but the points leader would not be denied. When Baggett came up short in the rhythm section and could not execute a triple jump, it allowed Webb to get around. … Baggett refused to go away and closed to within three-tenths of a second with one minute left on the clock. … With the clock at zero, the rider of the No. 4 bobbled and handed second over to Joey Savatgy … Baggett held on to finish third.

450 Last Chance Qualifier: Mike Alessi did not waste his good start in the LCQ. He fell in his heat after getting the holeshot, but he maintained his lead from the holeshot in the semi and held Ben Lamay at bay. Kyle Chisholm and Adam Enticknap finished third and fourth to advance to the Main. … This is Enticknap’s first Main of the season. … Carlen Gardner started hopping through the whoops while running third on the opening lap. He fell to the back of the pack and failed to advance.

250 Heat 1: Chase Sexton fell back to third on the opening lap, regained his momentum and mounted a charge to grab the lead by Lap 4. He held on to secure his first heat win of the season. … He beat Mitchell Oldenburg by 2.215 seconds with Alex Martin a little more than two seconds further back.

250 Heat 2: After Austin Forkner went down on the opening lap, the battle for the win heated up with dramatic three-manbattle for the lead. … With time off the clock, Martin Davalos and Justin Cooper swapped the lead on the final lap. Cooper got back to the checkers first with Davalos in second. … Kyle Peters rounded out the top three. … Forkner was on his way to grabbing the holeshot, but he took a jump while turning and went down hard. Lane Shaw ran over the top of him. Forkner climbed back on his bike 17th, 16 seconds down to the leaders. He was ninth in the final transfer with two minutes left on the clock. Forkner finished fifth.

250 Last Chance Qualifier: Lane Shaw took the lead from Kevin Moranz on Lap 3 and settled into a comfortable running position. He won the LCQ by 1.817 seconds over Moranz. … Isaac Teasdale and Cade Autenreith swapped third and fourth in the closing laps, but both advanced to the Main. … Steven Clarke finished fifth and was the first rider on the outside looking in.

Points Leaders

450s
Cooper Webb (243) (5 wins)
Marvin Musquin (229) (1 win)
Eli Tomac (222) (3 wins)
Ken Roczen (216)
Blake Baggett (184) (1 win)

250s West
Adam Cianciarulo (140 points) (4 wins)
Dylan Ferrandis (125)
Shane McElrath (123) (1)
Colt Nichols (120) (1)
RJ Hampshire (86)

250s East
Austin Forkner (151 points) (5 wins)
Chase Sexton (125)
Justin Cooper (123)
Alex Martin (92)
Martin Davalos (89)

Top 5s

450 top 5s
Ken Roczen: 9
Marvin Musquin: 9
Cooper Webb: 9
Eli Tomac: 8
Blake Baggett: 7
Joey Savatgy: 3
Dean Wilson: 2
Chad Reed: 2
Justin Barcia: 2
Jason Anderson: 1
Justin Bogle: 1
Justin Brayton: 1
Aaron Plessinger: 1

250 West top 5s
Adam Cianciarulo: 6
Shane McElrath: 5
Colt Nichols: 4
Dylan Ferrandis: 4
RJ Hampshire: 3
James Decotis: 2
Jacob Hayes: 1
Garrett Marchbanks: 1
Jess Pettis: 1

250 East top 5s
Austin Forkner: 6
Justin Cooper: 6
Chase Sexton: 6
Jordon Smith: 3
Martin Davalos: 3
Alex Martin: 2
Mitchell Oldenburg: 2

Next race: March 23, CenturyLink Field, Seattle, Wa.

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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Ryan: Stressful second title is a soup good for Josef Newgarden’s soul

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MONTEREY, Calif. – At her family’s home in Nashville, Tennessee, Tina Newgarden always keeps an extra stash of corn chowder in the freezer.

She never knows when her son, Josef, unexpectedly might drop by in desperate need of his go-to comfort food.

“It’s just in case I’m not at home, and he just goes in and grabs it himself if he’s coming home from out of town,” Tina said with a knowing smile. “And then you’ll catch him down there eating his favorite soup and watching a movie.”

When he gets done this week with the whirlwind of media obligations required after becoming an NTT IndyCar Series champion for the second time, you probably will find Newgarden curled up on the couch with a warm bowl of old-fashioned goodness in his lap and an inspirational flick on the TV (perhaps a screening of “Return of the Jedi” for a Star Wars fan).

He was crowned Sunday as the best driver on a highly competitive circuit after a season of excellence (average start of 5.5, average finish of 5.6), but Josef Newgarden really has had a tough couple of months.

That was evident in the tears that flowed immediately after he exited his No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet and seemed ready to collapse in a pool of relief from the mental exhaustion and high anxiety that had followed his quest to become a two-time champion.

“I don’t ever cry,” Newgarden, 28, said Sunday after gritting out an eighth-place finish that clinched the championship in the season finale at Laguna Seca Raceway. “Actually, it infuriates my fiancée because I don’t think I’ve ever cried in front of her. It disturbed her in some ways. She’s like, ‘You never cry! I don’t know why you don’t do that. You should cry at some point.”

If there’s anyone who knew how the 2019 points battle weighed on him, it was Ashley Welch and the rest of Newgarden’s family – the outlet that was emotionally invested and supportive of his career but also provides a release from the tension.

Josef Newgarden celebrates with his father, Joey (left), his grandmother Karen Rasmussen (front), his fiancee, Ashley (second from right), and mother Tina (right) after his second championship (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images).

They were all on hand Sunday (including his father, Joey, and his “Mormor” Karen Rasmussen, the 80-year-old maternal grandmother who came from Denmark to attend her second IndyCar race) and shared in the culmination of what’s been a very emotional and eventful year (which still has wedding bells ahead).

Josef Newgarden with his grandmother (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images).

Was it stressful?

“To say the least,” a beaming Welch said as she watched her fiancé hoist the Astor Cup on the championship stage. “The level of competitiveness in this sport is unreal. Any different guy can come in and win any different race.

“For him to be leading all of those different guys who had just as much potential, if not more sometimes. It means so much. We had a friend tell him after the first one, anyone can win one championship, but they remember you if you win two. So I think he feels like ‘Oh, it’s not just luck. I’m meant to be here.’ And that is …”

Welch paused and her voice briefly quavered as she watched Newgarden, whom she has been together with for seven years (they were engaged last October), hoist the Astor Cup above his head.

“Beautiful,” she smiled. “So I think you see all his emotion coming from it. I know him, and he’s thinking about how many people put their neck on the line to get him to where he is today. He talks about when he was little and starting to watch IndyCar racing, Penske was his pinnacle. Getting to drive for them but being able to perform and make an impact on their history, he feels it so much.

“You saw all the outpouring of “My dreams have come true! I’ve worked so hard, and they’re here!”

It certainly was a different feeling than two years ago when Newgarden won the pole position at Sonoma, led 41 laps and won punctuated his inaugural championship with a runner-up finish in the season finale.

Sunday’s drive was indicative of the weight – and wait — that Newgarden had endured while leading the championship standings for virtually six consecutive months since winning the season opener at St. Petersburg (he was out of the points only once – after a fourth in the Indianapolis 500 that now is the only void in his career).

“The first (championship), it was shocking and overwhelming,” Tina Newgarden said. “The second time it’s almost like he had this mark on his back because he’s been leading the points the whole season. So it would be really sad, devastating if he didn’t get it at the end of the season. But I’m so proud of him. He’s very disciplined. He just loves it so much.”

“If he’s down and has a bad day, then we’re down having a bad day as well. It’s terrible, but that’s just how it is. This is a good year, so now we can all breathe. The last two months has really been a little stressful. So yeah. We’ve been trying to keep the mood up, but God, I’m so happy!”

Newgarden, who qualified fourth and never had winning pace all weekend, said he felt “more nervous because I felt like this one was more ours to lose, and I thought we deserved (the championship). I didn’t want to make a mistake. I got a bit nervous in the middle of the race because I thought we were going down a rabbit hole we didn’t want to be down.”

But the very un-Newgarden-esque eighth – only the fourth time in 17 races he finished outside the top 10 this season – was the outcome of a sound pit strategy that delivered the title by 25 points over Simon Pagenaud, who proclaimed his Penske teammate “the most deserving guy” to win the title.

“It didn’t really start weighing on me until we got (to Laguna Seca),” Newgarden said. “I knew it would hit me here because it was double points. You know it’s going to be a very difficult situation. It’s just that intensity and that unknown, where if you make a small mistake, it can turn into a very big mistake. At another event, it wouldn’t be that way.”

Team owner Roger Penske noticed Newgarden had butterflies on the race morning before he would join Sam Hornish Jr. as the only American to win multiple IndyCar championships in the past two decades. “I think there’s so much emotion inside for someone like that because you’ve got to be perfect,” Penske said. “And I think the fact that he was able to execute the way he did, it was just a time to let it all out.”

Newgarden now is among lofty company on a list of multi-time champions at Team Penske that includes Rick Mears, Tom Sneva, Al Unser and Gil de Ferran. And his four-win season helped him take a critical step toward putting his name with true IndyCar legends such as A.J. Foyt (seven championships), Scott Dixon (five) and Mario Andretti (four).

“I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s harder to win a second championship than a first,” he said. “And I think in a lot of ways, that’s true. It’s very difficult to win a championship. But then to follow it up and make it happen again, it seems like a bigger mountain almost.

“I don’t know what causes that. But I just had it in my mind that if we could get this done, it’d be the achievement of the year.”

It’s especially impressive considering everything Newgarden is trying to accomplish in 2019. Besides winning a championship, he also:

–Will be getting married Oct. 26 to Welch in Nashville;

Moved from Davidson, North Carolina, (near Team Penske headquarters) to his hometown;

–Began building a house with Welch, who also brought home a rescue pup named Zoomer (or affectionately known as “Zoom” around home). “They say a year, but it’s going to be a year and a half” to finish, Welch said with a laugh. “We were in a one-bedroom apartment. I told him I don’t want to have kids in a one-bedroom apartment.”

–Underwent several oral surgeries to correct some improper dental work from childhood.

“We could have taken a couple things off the plate,” Newgarden said. “But you know what? Everything needed to be done. We wanted everything to get done, and we’re doing it all. I don’t know how the year worked out, because (racing) is the priority. You do all those things and decide, ‘Yeah, we’re going to make the plate this full.’ But something still has to take the cake at the end of the day, and the racing is what does that. And everyone knows that’s the program, and this is the most important part of the year, because you don’t get that back.

“If you have an opportunity to race and compete for a championship, when it’s there, you’ve got to take it. So I tried to keep that at the forefront of my mind all year, and I made it the priority, but it was just a little more difficult with all the other things going on.”

Josef Newgarden kisses his fiancee, Ashley Welch, after winning the NTT IndyCar Series championship (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images).

Welch, who knew nothing about racing while working as a princess cast member at Disney World when Newgarden “swept me off my feet,” provides a release valve. Though she is comfortable with being a knowledgeable member of the paddock (“I know what push to pass means. That was a big thing for me”), Welch also can help distract him from the pressure of IndyCar.

“I think it’s better to know less, because then he is able to escape at home and make home be home, and then work be work,” she said. “Because when you’re in a professional sport, you can’t really escape the work. It comes home with you whether in interviews or social media, or just obligations in general, or practice, or research. You’re always living in it, so I think it’s really smart to just have your home be home.”

In that sense, staying busy in his personal life has been good for the extremely affable Newgarden, a self-described introvert who gradually has withdrawn from social media in his late 20s.

Though he is as articulate and eloquent as any driver in auto racing, he also is happy to defer to his teammates on promotional opportunities because “I go home and am happy to be away from all of it. … I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just my introverted-ness that’s getting worse. I really try to do the best I can for the series and team and partners. It is so important to represent in the right way, but at the same time, it’s gotten harder” to be on social media in a professional setting.

“It’s all the racing,” Tina Newgarden said when asked about the source of her son’s stress. “Him building a house and all that, that’s nothing. That’s easy. (Winning a championship) is not easy. Anything else is easy.

“He got it, so I’m so proud of him. He’s one of the very lucky ones that made it here, because for every one, I’m sure there are 500 (drivers) looking in, wanting to have that. But he worked hard, and I just told him one time, ‘Don’t be so moody about it when it doesn’t go well.’ He’s still moody about it if it doesn’t go well! He’s still the same.”

That’s why the bowl of corn chowder still is waiting in her freezer.

A hearty meal for two-time champion who finally can relax.