Josef Newgarden compares Indy 500 to Kentucky Derby

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INDIANAPOLIS – Two of the most traditional, time-honored and revered sporting events in America are hosted by adjoining states in the same month of the year. And both feature horsepower.

The Month of May kicks off with the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. This year was the 145thrunning of the famed horse race with a crowd of more than 150,000 watching the fabled event.

May ends with the Memorial Day Speed Classic, the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The May 26 race will be the 103rd edition.

THE 103RD INDIANAPOLIS 500: Click here for how to watch, full daily schedules

Churchill Downs and Indianapolis Motor Speedway are just 123 miles apart, down Interstate 65.

Both are national treasures that represent the pride of two great Midwestern states – Indiana and Kentucky.

Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden got the “Kentucky Derby Treatment” as a guest of NBC Sports when he attended “Derby Day” with his fiancé, Ashley Welch. The Indy 500 veteran was thrilled at the spectacle of 19 horses in the race for the roses.

On Sunday, May 26, more than 300,000 fans will watch Newgarden and 32 other drivers compete in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” featuring a combined 26,000 horsepower.

By attending the Kentucky Derby, Newgarden said it sparked his interest in horse racing. He won’t be able to watch NBC’s coverage of “The Preakness” on Saturday because he will be participating in qualifications for the Indy 500.

But he will be paying attention to what happens at Pimlico after his qualifications have concluded.

“I am interested but will be much more focused on Indy 500 qualifying, but I’ll definitely check out what happens after the fact,” Newgarden told NBC Sports.com. “My pick to win on Saturday is War of Will.

“It’s like coming to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the first time, when you go to the Derby, you start studying it more.”

By attending the Kentucky Derby as the guests of NBC Sports, Newgarden got to experience a great event for the first time. This will be his eighth Indianapolis 500 as a driver.

He is in a unique position to compare the two sporting events have each feature a slice of Americana.

“You feel the festivity of it, it has the same sort of vibe to it,” Newgarden told NBC Sports.com. “The way the stadiums are built, and the way people fill the infield and the stadium sections and seats. It looks like Indy, but just to a one-quarter or a half scale. To me, the whole vibe and atmosphere was very similar.

“I can see why the Kentucky Derby is such a special and historic event. Indy has that same charm. I hope people watching on NBC have that same sort of feeling.”

The fans who come to each event are big fans of the event, maybe more than for the sport. On Derby Day, 150,000 at Churchill Downs are big horse racing fans for that one day. The same can be said for the Indy 500.

“There are a lot of similarities,” Newgarden said. “There isn’t any live betting going on like you get at a horse track, but they have their books out, they see their stats and look at the drivers. At the Derby, they take look at the stats of the horses, try to understand the pedigree of the horses and their speed results.

“At Indy, they see the information on the drivers. People pull out their stopwatches.

“Horses and cars are quite different but very similar throughout the day.”

Fashion is also very important at both events in vastly different ways.

At the Kentucky Derby, it’s pastel-colored sport coats and fancy bow-ties for the men; springtime dresses with hats for the ladies. At the Indy 500, it’s checkerboard shirts, shorts and hats or American flag-themed apparel for both genders.

“It’s a little different fashion,” Newgarden said. “Here, you express yourself in creativity. At the Derby, you express yourself in color, style and tradition. People like to be creative about their racing gear and who they are supporting.

“You have styling on each front, but both are different at the same time.”

Newgarden and his fiancé were in the Stakes Room as guests of NBC on the top level of Churchill Downs.

“It was a very cool privilege to watch the race there,” Newgarden recalled. “I could see the infield and it’s like the ‘Snake Pit’ at the Indy 500. You don’t have the EDM artists or the fire going on during the race, but you could see people had been there and were having a great day. You could tell they were there for 24 or 48 hours prior.

“It was very similar to the 500.”

Both have a very similar, distinctive feeling of being a truly, “Big Event.”

“I wanted to take the event in and take a closer look to it, but people are there because it’s a big deal, too,” Newgarden explained. “Both events are all about horsepower at the end of the day.”

Newgarden placed a $100 wager on Maximum Security and was ready to collect on the 9-to-2 odds. But for the first time in Derby history, an “objection” was requested about the finish. Race stewards determined Maximum Security had changed lanes and impeded other horses in the race.

The horse that crossed the line first and was believed to be the winner was disqualified.

Newgarden still holds the betting ticket.

“It’s in my wallet if they ever change it,” Newgarden admitted. “I’m not expecting it, though. But if they do, it’s in my wallet to collect.

“I thought it was going to take heaven and earth to strip the winner. Don’t expect the unexpected, just like the Indianapolis 500.”

Extreme E reveals competition format for its global races next season

Extreme E
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Extreme E, a new series that will raise awareness about climate change by racing electric SUVs around the world, unveiled its competition format Friday.

The five-race environmentally conscious series will begin next season with races held in Senegal, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Greenland and Brazil.

Chip Ganassi Racing and Andretti Autosport are among the eight teams that will race in the series. Each team will have a male and female driver who alternate in each event.

ELECTRIC APPEAL: Why Ganassi is going to the Extreme E

In the details provided Friday, the two-day events will feature two qualifying races Saturday and two semifinals and a final round Sunday. Each race is two laps: One driven by the male driver and the other by the female. Results are based on finishes, not times.

The first semifinal is slotted with Saturday’s top four qualifiers, and the top three finishers advance to the final. The second semifinal (also known as the “Crazy Race”) will feature the last four qualifiers with the winner advancing to the final.

Click here to see the details of Extreme E’s sporting format.

Here’s the release from Extreme E:

29 May, London: Extreme E, the revolutionary electric off-road racing series, has outlined the race format for its five-event adventure to some of the most formidable, remote and spectacular locations across the globe, starting early 2021.

The series has devised an innovative format unlike any other, likened to a Star Wars Pod Racing meets Dakar Rally, which is designed to break the mould in motorsport with all-action, short, sharp wheel-to-wheel racing, world-class drivers and teams, the cutting-edge ODYSSEY 21 electric SUV and its stunning, formidable environments, all firmly in focus.

Each race, which will be known as an X Prix, will incorporate two laps over a distance of approximately 16 kilometres. Four teams, with two drivers – one male, one female – completing a lap apiece in-car, will race head-to-head in each race over the two-day event.

Qualifying takes place on day one to determine the top four runners who will progress through into Semi-Final 1 and the bottom four competitors who will go on to take part in Semi-Final 2: the unique ‘Crazy Race’.

The Crazy Race will be a tooth-and-nail, all-or-nothing fight, with only the quickest team progressing into the Final, while the top three will make it through from Semi-Final 1. The winner of the Final – the fastest combination of team, drivers, car and engineers over the epic two-day battle – will then be crowned the X Prix Winner.

Another innovative feature is the Hyperdrive. This will award an additional boost of speed to the team who performs the longest jump on the first jump of each race. Hyperdrive power can be used by that team at any point in the race.

This initial format is designed to incorporate eight teams, and can be adapted to accommodate additional entries.

Teams will field one male and one female driver, promoting gender equality and a level playing field amongst competitors. Each driver will complete one lap behind the wheel, with a changeover incorporated into the race format.

The teams will determine which driver goes first to best suit their strategy and driver order selections are made confidentially, with competitors kept in the dark as to other teams’ choices until the cars reach the start-line. Contests between males and females will therefore be ensured.

X Prix circuits will also incorportate natural challenges that will leave viewers at the edge of their seats, and drivers and teams will be pushed right to the limits of their abilities; with hazards to navigate and defeat such as extreme gradients, jumps, banks, berms, pits, dunes and water splashes.

Alejandro Agag, Extreme E Founder and CEO, said: “Extreme E is a championship like nothing else that has come before in sport. Its goal and objective is to accelerate innovation and tackle climate change head on using transportation.

“Creating this innovative sporting format, which we’re likening to Star Wars Pod Racing meets Dakar Rally, is vital in order to engage the next generation of motorsport fans. We hope our fans will enjoy the short, sharp, wheel-to-wheel racing this format has been built around, and with our high performance electric vehicle, driver changeover, the Hyperdrive feature, and the Crazy Race qualification format, there is plenty to watch out for, and many chances for positions to change hands, Our races really will go right to the wire.”

Extreme E’s cutting-edge 550-horsepower, ODYSSEY 21, incorporates a number of innovations to enable it to cope with all the rigours of racing over the toughest terrain, where no car has raced before. The battery-electric, 400kw (550hp), 1650-kilogram, 2.3-metre wide E-SUV is bespoke from the ground up. Capable of firing from 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, at gradients of up to 130 percent.

It is made up of a common package of standardised parts, manufactured by Spark Racing Technology with a battery produced by Williams Advanced Engineering. This encompasses a niobium-reinforced steel alloy tubular frame, as well as crash structure and roll cage, whilst tyres, for both extreme winter and summer requirements, supplied by founding partner Continental Tyres.

As well as being used as platform for equality and illutstrating the capabilities of electric vehicle technology, Extreme E will highlight the impact that climate change is having on its remote race locations, using a committee of leading scientists to help bring global attention to issues such as deforestation in Brazil, rising sea levels along the West African coastline, melting Arctic icecaps in Greenland, and more.

The championship will announce further drivers, teams and partners over the coming weeks as it builds towards its early 2021 start-date apace.