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 

Australia SuperCar Champion gets IndyCar Test at Team Penske

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Scott McLaughlin’s latest reward for winning the 2019 Virgin Australia SuperCar championship is an INDYCAR test at Team Penske.

“Scott has been incredibly successful for DJR Team Penske over the last three seasons and he has become a true champion of our sport,” said team owner Roger Penske, who will become the owner of INDYCAR, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500 in early January. “He certainly embraces new challenges and we think this is a great opportunity to utilize the IndyCar Series rookie testing program so Scott can experience what it is like to get behind the wheel of one of our Indy cars.”

McLaughlin, who has scored back-to-back Virgin Australia Supercars Champion for DJR Team Penske (DJRTP), will participate in an INDYCAR Rookie Evaluation test at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. on Monday, January 13.

“I am always open to new challenges and I’m thankful to Team Penske for providing this opportunity to test an Indy car,” said McLaughlin, who established a new Supercars single season record with 18 victories this past season. “We had an amazing year in 2019 and I’m looking forward to defending our Supercars championship next season. I’m also excited to grow as a driver and being with Team Penske creates cool opportunities to try something new. Although I have spent a few hours in a simulator earlier this year, it’s going to be a blast to see what one really feels like at a place like Sebring.”

McLaughlin joined DJR Team Penske in 2017 as one of the brightest stars in Supercars. He has produced 35 victories and 44 pole positions over the last three seasons while helping DJRTP claim team championships in 2017 and 2019, the driver’s title each of the last two seasons and the legendary Bathurst 1000 race in October, along with co-driver Alex Premat.

McLaughlin will defend his Supercars title for DJRTP in 2020 in the No. 17 Shell V-Power Ford Mustang.  He will build on his already successful racing career by driving a full-sized open-wheel car for the first time.

Team Penske enjoyed another successful IndyCar Series season in 2019. The team earned its record 18th Indianapolis 500 victory as Simon Pagenaud captured the checkered flag in May, while Josef Newgarden won his second series title in three years and the team’s 16th INDYCAR Championship. Team Penske will once again compete with three full-season entries in 2020, featuring series champion drivers Newgarden, Pagenaud and Will Power.

Team Penske is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports. Cars owned and prepared by Team Penske have produced more than 540 major race wins, over 620 pole positions and 37 Championships across open-wheel, stock car and sports car racing competition. Over the course of its 53-year history, the team has also earned 18 Indianapolis 500 victories, two Daytona 500 Championships, a Formula 1 win, overall victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring along with a win in Australia’s legendary Bathurst 1000 race. Team Penske currently competes in the IndyCar Series, the NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The team also races in the Virgin Australia SuperCars Championship, in a partnership with Dick Johnson Racing, as DJR Team Penske.

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500