With a record 18 Indianapolis 500 victories and a record 16 IndyCar “National Championships” including the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship, Team Penske has often been referred to as the New York Yankees of IndyCar racing.
Wednesday at Yankee Stadium, Team Penske’s latest IndyCar champion got to experience the history and heritage of the most successful professional sports franchise in the world.
Newgarden’s championship week continued with a trip to Yankee Stadium, where he was guest of fellow NTT IndyCar Series team owner George Michael Steinbrenner, IV. The 22-year-old Steinbrenner is the grandson of legendary Yankees owner, the late George Steinbrenner.
Today, the Yankees are co-owned by young Steinbrenner’s Uncle Hal and his father, Hank.
The stop at Yankee Stadium capped Newgarden’s two-day New York media tour.
Newgarden, a first timer to the ballpark, was able to hold the notched bat Babe Ruth used to swat many of his record-setting 60 home runs in 1927. Newgarden also held a uniform Lou Gehrig wore and saw all 27 of the Yankees’ World Series rings and signed baseballs.
Newgarden, who played the sport growing up in Nashville, Tenn., was in awe of the memorabilia, particularly as it related to Derek Jeter, his favorite Yankee.
“It’s very cool to see how they have immortalized the greats,” Newgarden said. “Through a program called ‘Hands on History’ they let people put on white gloves and physically touch these important pieces of baseball history. It reminded me of the (Indianapolis Motor Speedway) Museum with all the history there. It was awesome.”
Team Penske’s excellence has earned the racing operation a legion of fans, and probably an equal number of people who root against the team. That’s the same as the Yankees in Major League Baseball.
“That’s sports, (and) it should divide people,” Newgarden said. “There should be people who love us, and there should be people who hate us, and if (sports) didn’t have that why would it be interesting?”
“You want to see someone win, and you want to see someone (lose).”
Newgarden’s championship is his second in three years, and his four race wins this season gave him 14 for his career. Only 32 drivers in the sport’s history have more of the latter. He also became the 21st American driver with multiple INDYCAR titles.