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 

Supercross: Talon Hawkins to debut in Houston in relief of Jalek Swoll

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Talon Hawkins, 19, will make his Monster Energy Supercross debut on a 250 this week in Houston, Texas as a fill-in rider for Jalek Swoll.

During the Anaheim 2 weekend, the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team announced Swoll underwent successful surgery to repair a broken arm suffered in a practice crash.

That same weekend, Hawkins made some noise. He took the lead from teammate Casey Cohran on Lap 2 of the 250 SX Futures Main and led for three laps before he was overtaken by eventual winner Daxton Bennick. Cochran also got around him to push Hawkins to third.

This will not be Hawkins SuperMotocross professional debut, however; he made three Lucas Oil Pro Motocross starts last year with results of 19th at Spring Creek in Millville, Minnesota, 27th at Ironman in Crawfordsville, Indiana and a best finish of 17th in the season finale at Fox Raceway in Pala, California.

Hawkins also has a top-10 finish in the 125 All-Star division at Pala in 2019 riding a Husqvarna.

Speaking with RacerXOnline.com before the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals, Hawkins predicted his future with Husqvarna would come down to how he performed in that race.

“It all just comes down to how I perform at Loretta’s,” Hawkins said. “Say I do really well, I get a top three in both classes and do a pretty solid job, I would like to go pro and just kind of finish out the rest of the series. But there’s also the option of waiting a little bit longer, going back out to [Aldon] Baker’s [Factory] or going anywhere and training, and just being prepared. I’m also open to that too. Honestly, it’s whatever the team wants. Whatever we think is the best option is what we’re going to go with. So, I don’t really have a plan right now, just looking into the future.”

Hawkins finished third overall in the 125 B/C and Schoolboy divisions at the Loretta Lynn Amateur Nationals.