From the ‘Team that Roger Built’ to the ‘House that Ruth Built’ for Josef Newgarden

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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.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500 

Donny Schatz edges Kyle Larson for Outlaws victory at Lake Ozark

Trent Gower/World of Outlaws
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Donny Schatz made a last-lap pass on Kyle Larson, snatching a World of Outlaws victory Saturday night at Lake Ozark Speedway.

Larson started on the pole, led 30 of 35 laps and was in control until a caution set up a two-lap shootout to the finish before a limited crowd in Eldon, Missouri.

Schatz and Larson traded the lead twice over the final two laps, but the 10-time champion emerged with his first victory since the NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series returned in mid-May from a two-month layoff because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

‘THEY’VE STUCK BEHIND ME’: Kyle Larson comments on future, Outlaws plans

“Man, I don’t know what to say, but Kyle’s a damn good racer,” Schatz, who led five laps, told DirtVision after his 296th Outlaws win. “I kind of had to go where he didn’t. We got that green-white-checkered, and I decided I was going to send it. He decided the same thing.

Donny Schatz celebrates at Lake Ozark Speedway after his second Outlaws Sprint Car victory of the season (Trent Gower).

“I’m glad to get the win. It feels like it’s been forever. I’ve been out here 24 years, and every night is a learning experience still.”

Larson finished second in his fifth start since he began racing with the Outlaws after being suspended from NASCAR.

“Obviously, it would have been nice to get the win,” Larson said on DirtVision. “I figured Donny would rip the middle. The restarts before, he’d almost clear me in (turns) 3 and 4. I should have known to protect and block his momentum. I felt I exited 2 OK. We don’t have spotters or rearview mirrors so you can’t see how close he is or really hear it when the pace is so slow.

“I just didn’t do a good enough job to run a smarter final couple of laps.”

Brad Sweet, Larson’s brother in law, finished third, with Shane Stewart and David Gravel rounding out the top five.

Larson rebounded from a 10th in Friday’s feature at Lake Ozark Speedway, continuing his streak of top-10 finishes in all five of his starts since the Outlaws’ return.

“We got our car a lot better from last night, so that was a plus,” said Larson, who finished second and first in back-to-back nights last week at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at Pevely, Missouri. “These guys are really tough. To be on the podium with Donny and Brad, they’ve won lots of big races and championships, it’s nice. I just didn’t do what I needed to do that last restart.”

Larson nearly had a flawless night Saturday, turning a 11.426-second lap to capture his second pole position this season and won the pole dash to start first in the feature.

Larson, who was fired by Chip Ganassi Racing from his NASCAR Cup Series ride last month for using a racial slur in an iRacing event, said last week that he plans to run several more NOS Energy Sprint Car Series races this year.

Larson remains indefinitely suspended by NASCAR but was approved to race by the Outlaws after completing sensitivity training.