Newgarden, Penske honored at INDYCAR ‘Victory Lap Ceremony’

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INDIANAPOLIS – An incredible week for Team Penske and Josef Newgarden culminated Thursday night in Indianapolis as the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series champions were honored at the annual season-ending “Victory Lap Ceremony.”

The event was held at Union 50 in the popular “Mass Avenue” district of Indianapolis. NBC Sports Kevin Lee served as the master of ceremonies.

The team was honored by INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles. Newgarden and his team were officially award the championship check, worth in excess of $1 million in total prizes. Also, he received a replica of the Astor Cup. The permanent Astor Cup is on display at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum.

It was Newgarden’s second-career NTT IndyCar Series champion. He also won the title in 2017 in his first season with Team Penske.

“I didn’t feel like I got to do this right in 2017, so I want to make sure I get this one right,” Newgarden said in his victory speech. “It’s been an amazing year with a lot of pressure, and I felt the pressure more this season. I don’t know why, but certainly coming to the end I had not had such good runs and I felt like it was ours’ to lose at the end when we got to the finale.

“But our team shined, like they always do.”

Newgarden credited his team and his competitors including second place in the championship finisher Simon Pagenaud, one of his two teammates, and racing rival Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport, who finished third in the championship after finishing second in 2108.

He also singled-out race engineer Gavin Ward and crew chief Travis Law.

Newgarden tied his career high with four race wins in 2019. He won two street races (St. Petersburg and Detroit 1) and two ovals (Texas Motor Speedway and Iowa Speedway). He also won a pair of poles (Detroit 2 and WorldWide Technology Raceway at Gateway).

For team owner Roger Penske, it was his record-extending 16th career IndyCar “National Championship.”

“The difference is they are different drivers and to see the emotion of the different drivers and the team itself is the most rewarding to me,” Penske told NBC Sports.com before the ceremony began.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Felix Rosenqvist, who finished sixth in the standings, was named Rookie of the Year and received a $50,000 bonus.

Honda was the Manufacturer Champion for the second year in a row.

The list of awards included the following:

Mini Astor Cup (Championship Driver): Josef Newgarden, Team Penske

Mini Astor Cup (Championship Owner): Roger Penske

Championship Team Manager: Kyle Moyer, Team Penske

Championship Chief Mechanic, Travis Law, Team Penske

Rookie of the Year: Felix Rosenqvist, Chip Ganassi Racing

Second Place in Championship: Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske

Third Place in Championship: Alexander Rossi, Andretti Autosport

NTT P1 Season Award: Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske

Manufacturer Champion Award: Honda

TAG Heuer “Don’t Crack Under Pressure” Award ($25,000): Tony Kanaan, A.J. Foyt Enterprises

Indy Family Foundation Award: Seeds of Hope (Father Glenn O’Connor, INDYCAR Ministry)

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.